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La AscensiĆ³n (The Ascension), Chalma, State of Mexico

Graciela Iturbide


Graciela Iturbide is one of the best-known Mexican photographers of the last four decades. The images in this gallery represent series from different parts of Mexico, of which the most important is her breakthrough photoessay Juchitán of the Women (1979–86). In a documentary style notable for its humanistic grace, the series focuses on the indigenous Zapotec people in the town of Juchitán, in southeastern Mexico, where women dominate all aspects of social life, from the economy to religious rituals. The most emblematic image of the series, Our Lady of the Iguanas, shows the power and dignity of a Zapotec woman, who carries on her head live iguanas that form a bizarre crown. Four Fishes shows a woman displaying fish for sale from the private space of her home, the clay and straw of the wall echoing the scales of the fish.

Like her teacher, the photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo (at one time the husband of Lola Alvarez Bravo, whose work hangs nearby), Iturbide portrays Catholic traditions intertwined with pre-Hispanic rites and superstitions, showing a culture in constant flux. Approaching her subjects directly and frontally, Iturbide represents a dreamlike reality with great compassion, or, to use the artist’s own word, “complicity.”
MEDIUM Gelatin silver photograph
DATES 1984
DIMENSIONS image: 12 x 8 in. (30.5 x 20.3 cm) sheet: 14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm)
SIGNATURE Signed in pencil on lower right verso
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Gift of Marcuse Pfeifer
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