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Graciela Iturbide: Shadowlines

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Friday, 14 June 2024 to Sunday, 22 September 2024

‘Photography never ceases to surprise me. It continues to give me a reason to learn about the world and about myself.’ - Graciela Iturbide

 

This summer at The Photographers’ Gallery, Graciela Iturbide: Shadowlines celebrates the work and world of Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide (b. 1942, Mexico City). Widely recognised for the poetry and introspection of her work, Iturbide’s captivating black and white images explore themes of Mexican culture, identity and belonging.

 

From the Seri people of the Sonaran desert to the Mexican-American cholo gangs of Los Angeles and Tijuana; the cinematic flatlands of American highways to the sculptural cacti of the botanical gardens of Oaxaca, Iturbide captures her subjects with depth and sensitivity.

 

Describing her black and white photography as ‘an abstraction of the mind’, Iturbide’s work offers a unique perspective on Mexican society and culture by combining a documentary and humanist approach with an imaginative quality of image-making. With a belief that photography is ‘self-discovery’, she has said ‘I just take photographs of what surprises me and what I like.’

Throughout her career, Iturbide has documented the lives of Indigenous people of Mexico, often living closely with them for months. She offers a glimpse into the rituals, traditions and struggles of their everyday lives, capturing their resilience and dignity.

 

“I lived with them in their homes, so they would see me, always with my camera and know that I am a photographer. In this way, we were able to become partners.”

 

The exhibition will include works from several of her most iconic series, including Juchitán de las Mujeres (1979-1989), focusing on the matriarchal society of the Zapotec people of Tehuantepec, south-eastern Mexico. Having immersed herself in their lives for a decade, her photographs show the strength and vitality of the Juchitán women who lead all aspects of social life, from the economy to religious rituals.

 

Iturbide's iconic images reference Catholic traditions and prehistoric rituals, portraying a culture in a state of constant transition. By engaging directly with her subjects, she reveals a utopian, dream-like world, imbued with empathy and complicity.

 

Over time, Iturbide's images have gradually become empty of people as she has focussed on materials, textures, nature and light. As people disappeared from her work, instead she concentrated on photographing empty landscapes and cacti, sometimes bandaged in protective canvas and netting or tied to ropes and cables stretching across the sky. Whatever her subject, Graciela Iturbide seems to have never stopped tracking the sunlight with her camera and experimenting with ‘shadow lines.’

Venue ( Address ): 

The Photographers’ Gallery 16-18 Ramillies St, London W1F 7LW

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