At 75 years old, Graciela Iturbide refuses to slow down. In fact, she’s about to become more relevant than ever. The legendary Mexican photographer will have her work displayed in two exhibits this month: at Scripps College “Revolution & Ritual: The Photographs of Sara Castrejon, Graciela Iturbide, and Tatiana Parcero” and the Hammer Museum’s “Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1965-1980”. Most importantly, she’ll also finally have her own biography published thanks to Getty Publications.
“Photographic: The Life Of Graciela Iturbide” covers the photographer’s life from her conservative childhood in Mexico City through Catholic school, her marriage and subsequent divorce and many of her famous images to the present day. There is one major catch though. The biography is not just a novel but a graphic novel, a combination of letters and imagery influenced by Iturbide’s work.
“It took a while learning to do a script for [a graphic novel],” admits author Isabel Quintero who penned the script with artist Zeke Peña. “It was very stressful because later we learned … it usually takes two to three years to write a graphic novel. We got this project last June.”
It all began with the iguanas. One of Iturbide’s most famous and impressive photos is “Nuestra Señora De Las Iguanas,” Our Lady Of The Iguanas, which features a woman named Zobeida from the town of Juchitán bedecked in a crown of live iguanas sitting on her head. The power and symbolism of the imagery spoke to Quintero and Peña and they built their initial pitch to The Getty around that image.
“It’s a graphic novel, but it’s very experimental,” explains Quintero. “Initially, I wanted animals to tell her story because in Juchitán, she has that image, Nuestra Señora De Las Iguanas.”
The iguanas hold a conversation about that moment and fantasize about being immortalized along with Zobeida thanks to Iturbide and her lens. The pitch worked and the moment remained in the final draft of the book.