Graciela Iturbide

b. 1942 Mexico
Lives and works in Mexico

Graciela Iturbide’s work explores the culture, ritual and everyday life in her native country Mexico and other countries. Her exploration of the everyday life of rural peoples and indiginous communities in Mexico, brought her amongst others to the Seri Indians, in the Sonoran desert in Northen Mexico. In her portaits of the Seri people she reflects their way of life and exposes the growing divide between an ancestral past and the new customs imported by capitalism. Throughout her work Iturbide finds ways to photograph transitions, ambiguities and interferences, as in one of her signature pictures, Mujer Angel (Angel Woman). We see a Seri woman climbing a cliff in the desert while carrying a casette player. These apparent incompatible elements depict a society in flux, where old and new exist side by side and reformulate themselves as they go.  Her fascination for marginalised indiginous communities and their interference with a foreign culture led her also to the Zapotec Indians in Juchitán, in the Oaxaca state. There she lived among the Juchitech women, whom she describes as strong, independent and politicised. In Juchitán social roles are different than other parts of the country, that prides itself in a culture of machismo. Here, it’s the woman who are in charge of the family, religion and business and both men and women enjoy a legendary sexual freedom. Far from depicting exotic remote worlds, Iturbide shows people in all their uniqueness, while avoiding labels like indigenous. Gradually the human figure dissapears completely and her photographs sink into a deep silence, focussing on objects, animals and landscapes instead, but the ambivalence and poetry remains. As Vicki Goldberg puts it: “These are not pictures to be deciphered, but to be savored for their mournful pungency and whispering allusions. They write a personal fable of a country that seems to be continually in process, continually negotiating its way between one kind of existence and another, where people who are not resigned to the way things are opt for transformation instead.”

© Graciela Iturbide