PRINT January 2019


Martine Gutierrez, Covertgirl, 2018, digital photo collage.


The world disappears, a parade of ancient colonizers determined to take it with them when they leave.

I think: Don’t let the door hit you on your way out!

We’ve got a lot of reading to do.

Last fall, the twenty-nine-year-old artist Martine Gutierrez debuted Indigenous Woman at Ryan Lee Gallery in New York. It is a singular achievement, three years in the making: 146 pages of autonomous, autochthonous delectation. Every image produced, designed, and starring one person: Gutierrez herself.

There in its juicy, oversize pages is Gutierrez as a Mayan demon (Chin) and an Aztec deity (Xochipilli). There is Gutierrez as migrant maid. As perfume cynosure. She is Antonio Lopez, Cindy Sherman, Yasumasa Morimura, Laurie Simmons. Defying (Helmut) Newtonian physics, she is gazer and gazed-at, maker and muse. Diana Vreeland and Richard Avedon. Irving Penn and Lisa Fonssagrives. She is Condesa Nast.

She is . . . MARTINE.

“I’m a scam!” she protests, in her magazine’s interview with Aponi “Butterfly.”

She pushes kitchen-sink realness to its extravagant edges. Her budget glamour looks like moneyed glamour, which is to say, it is glamour at its best: transformation. At the moment of print’s purported obsolescence, Gutierrez restores its purpose, makes it new again. I never envy other magazines, but I envy Indigenous Woman. Thank goddess there’s only one issue.

So many issues in that one issue.

The old labels stutter as they speak. She’s a young high-femme of Guatemalan and Northern European descent, a nonbinary transwoman of color and/or a Latinx artiste, depending on who’s asking. She shoots a splendid arrow straight into the whole fabulous history of magazines, lodging in their codes of colonization and fantasy, articulating the wound and its dressing. Indigenous Woman is smart and sexy and wildly funny: an object of desire and a tool for reeducation and a petition for genuine, mutual understanding.

Who wouldn’t want some of that? How fun to mingle our editorial realities. And so, for the January issue of Artforum, Gutierrez produced several new spreads and tweaked a few old ones. The results are, predictably, unpredictable—marvelous.

“To control our own image we need to be our own photographers, distributors, CEOs . . . all of it!” she tells us. “We need to make our own gags. That’s tea.”

Tea, and sympathy.

––David Velasco