Critics’ Picks

Graciela Iturbide, Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas, Juchitán, Oaxaca (Our Lady of the Iguanas, Juchitán, Oaxaca), 1979, black-and-white photograph, 21 x 71".


Graciela Iturbide

Fundacíon Mapfre | Recoletos
Paseo de Recoletos 23
June 16–September 6

Fotografías de Graciela Iturbide” follows the artist’s travels through India, Mexico, Spain, Madagascar, and the United States from the 1970s to the present, as she documents her encounters with landscape and street life. While some of the 180 photographs in the show contain only a trace of human presence, such as a jacket that hangs delicately and improbably from the tip of a tree branch in Khajuraho, India, 1998, other images focus on the whimsical violence of daily life. Baile de cabrito, La Mixteca, Oaxaca, México (The Goat’s Dance, La Mixteca, Oaxaca, Mexico), 1992, presents a dead goat, whose head, muzzled and bedecked with flowers, placidly lies beside someone’s feet. Iturbide transforms such scenes into lyric, nearly abstract elegies to the places she visits, unearthing the uncanny from the everyday. A girl wrapped in a white towel with her back to the camera in La niña del peine, Juchitán, México (Girl with Comb, Juchitán, Mexico), 1979, evokes a classical bather’s pose, but for the oversize comb stuck in her long black hair, which playfully destabilizes the formal trope. At once lively and abstract, Cholos, White Fence Gang, East Los Angeles, Estados Unidos, 1986, records the shadows of four figures making gang symbols against a white wall.

Iturbide immerses herself in her subjects, even dressing in a similar manner to them in Autoretrato con los indios seris, desierto de Sonora, Mexico, (Self-Portrait with the Seri Indians, Sonora Desert, Mexico), 1979. Such uneasy signaling of cultural difference also marks the series “El baño de Frida, Coyocán, México,” (Frida’s Bath, Coyocán, Mexico), 2006, wherein legible signs of the iconic artist, such as her back brace or a photo of Trotsky, are placed by her tub, making Iturbide’s usual meditative tone seem staged.