Images of the Spirit by Graciela Iturbide

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Images of the Spirit by Graciela Iturbide

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Images of the Spirit
by Graciela Iturbide

Aperture, 1996
128 pages

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Graciela Iturbide makes subtle yet powerful photographs that blend evocative scenes, primarily the cultures of her native Mexico, with her own deeply personal vision. Images of the Spirit, the first major publication of Iturbide's photography, demonstrates how in her dreamlike encounters with what may first appear to be ordinary, she perceives the surreal and the marvelous. Iturbide's work is a mixture of history, lyricism, and portraiture, sometimes informed by the art of Mexico's photographic master, Manuel Álvarez Bravo. In Iturbide's photographs, she combines the story of a culture in transition with issues of identity, diversity, and selfhood.

As the poet and critic Roberto Tejada points out in his Preface, "Sidelong Mirrors and Invisible Masks," Iturbide's photographs "underline time and again the rift between belonging and citizenship, rendered often against a backdrop of Mexican icons or heroes--be it the frail displacement of a rural campesino in Puebla, or the triumph of locals in East Los Angeles." Tejada who has lived in Mexico for the last ten years, provides a trenchant illumination of this Mexican photographer's use of her country's lore and stories of conquest, it's pre-Hispanic past, its indigenous visual vocabulary, and its centuries of tradition and ceremony, often infused with Christian iconography.

Writer and scholar Alfredo López Austin is an anthropologist studying Latin American cultures. In his series of letters to Iturbide, which form the poetic Epilogue to Images of the Spirit, he envisions her "on a promontory set over the world in such a way as to see from one ocean to the other, to approach the vault of heaven and to surpass the artificial boundaries." Reflecting on the breadth of her expansive, insightful mind while invoking many narrative voices and identities drawn from Mexico's richly vibrant mythologies, López Austin shows us how Iturbide's photographs mirror the artist herself. Through his writing Iturbide is revealed as observer, searcher, affirmer.

Images of the Spirit is produced at the highest level of the printer's art, enhancing the resonance of Iturbide's imagery, and the luminosity of her vision. Iturbide's compassion and dedication to her native land and its people make Images of the Spirit a power evocation of the underlying forces inspiring the complex, diverse, and ever-changing cultural landscape of Mexico.

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