Mexican photographer Graciel Iturbide is one of the most celebrated contemporary photographers today, and one of the most important and influential photographers in Latin America. Known for her visual social studies through photography, she imbues intimacy and art in the objective nature of her work. For 2020, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C. will be opening a special and exhaustive showcase of her body of work Graciela Iturbide's Mexico, on 28 February.
At first, Iturbide had the ambition to become a film director and even enrolled herself in cinema school. However, she became more drawn to still photography due to the works of Mexican photographer Manual Alvarez Bravo, whom she worked for as an assistant and had trained her as an artist. She traveled with the photographer between 1970 and 1971 when she mostly honed her creative visions. She was also inspired by Josef Koudelka, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Sebastiao Salgado.
Eventually, she started becoming more interested in the daily life of Mexico's indigenous cultures and people, while also focusing on their identity, culture, sexuality, roles of women in these societies, life, and death.
"Photography for me is a ritual. To go out with the camera, to observe, to photograph the most mythological aspects of people, then to go into the darkness, to develop, to select the most symbolic images."
The documentary photographer's known for transforming reportage into art -- drenched in iconic silver monochrome. The showcase will be divided into nine sections, all delving into the culture, history and daily life. Early Work will be showing Iturbide's photographs on structure and urban geometries. Three sections will then be highlighting her documentation on indigenous societies:Juchitan for the Zapotec people, a matriarchal society; Seri, the nomadic folk with fishing as their primary livelihood, found in the Sonoran Desert; La Mixteca for the Oaxacan, the community that holds an annual goat slaughter festival. The revered portrait Nuestra Senora de las Iguanas (Our Lady of the Iguanas ), an image of a woman wearing a wreath of iguanas around her head, the Mujer Angel (1979), a portrait of a Seri woman in traditional garbing as she holds a boom box at the desert, and Carmen (1992), a portrait of a floral-wearing woman holding a knife between her teeth as she holds the ankle of a goat, will be up for viewing.
The sections Fiestas, Death, and Birds will be featuring Iturbide's penchant for symbolism and its relations to Mexican culture. Botanical Garden will be a section solely dedicated to her photographs on flora and fauna, and the final section, Frida's Bathroom, will be dedicated to the commissioned works to photograph the renowned artist's belongings in the bathroom at Casa Azul, where Kahlo was born and also died.
The photographs to be featured will date from 1969 to 2007, with over 140 works from the artist. The show will be open until 25 May.
For more information on the exhibition, visit the NMWA's website.