Mexico seems to be some sort of breeding house for amazing artists, so Graciela Iturbide is a Mexican photographer born in 1942, the eldest of thirteen children. She took to photography after the death of her daughter in 1970, when she went to study at the Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematograficos at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and met her mentor, the teacher and cinematographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo. Inspired by the masters of black and white she began photographing daily life in Mexico City, Juchitán, Oaxaca and on the Mexican/American border. In 1979 a man approached her and asked her to photograph his village, which she did eventually, an experience that shaped her as a feminist and also resulted in her first collection: “Mujer Angel”. Other famous collections are ”Señora de Las Iguanas” and ”A Day in the Life of America”. She has received numerous awards, has been exhibited worldwide and is a member of the Mexican Council of Photography.
Through the magnificent photography of Iturbide we come to understand the real and versatile Mexico as it is. It’s all about observing people and their cultural context. Urban, rural, indigenous, modern, this country is filled with contrasts and no one captures this better than her. Through her images we come to understand the secret realm of this country and its people, the church dominant but still never able to extinguish the power and rituals of the pre-Hispanic cultures that give Mexico such a mystic significance. Her exploration of identity, gender, sexuality, death and all that by simply photographing everyday life is unbelievably sharp and captivating. Graciela Iturbide’s personal journey through her homeland can become any viewer’s personal journey no matter where from because the issues she touches are universal. Her culture and human oriented photography has extended the concept of documentary photography and remains one of the most potent in visual strength and beauty influencing lots of young photographers today.
Image and text courtesy of le ombre el cielo