The powerful images of the great Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide are at the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, which is devoting its first retrospective to her in Paris, From February 12 to May 29, 2022.
A major figure in Latin American photography
the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain presents Heliotropo 37, the first major exhibition in France devoted to the work of Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide, from the 1970s until today. Winner of the W. Eugene Smith Prize in 1987 and then of the Hasselblad Prize in 2008 – the highest photographic distinction – Graciela Iturbide is a major figure in Latin American photography. For more than 50 years, she has been creating images that oscillate between a documentary approach and a poetic gaze: “I sought surprise in the ordinary, an ordinary that I could have found anywhere else in the world”.
Famous for her portraits of Indians
If she is famous today for her portraits of the Seri Indians of the Sonoran desert or those of the women of Juchitán as well as for her photographic essays on the communities and ancestral traditions of Mexico, Graciela Iturbide has also always paid almost spiritual attention to the landscapes and objects. The exhibition presents for the first time these two sides of the artist’s work and thus offers a renewed vision. She is known for her work in the indigenous communities of Mexico, first in the Sonoran Desert in 1978 where she spent two months with the Seri Indians, a nomadic group with austere faces, who live in great destitution. It is there that she photographs, from the back, the Woman-Angel, a sort of apparition floating in a large white skirt and carrying a cassette player in her hand.
An immersion in the Zapotec culture
Magic is found in rituals and popular festivals, goat sacrifices in the Mixteca region or a carnival figure, and then in everyday images, chickens hanging on a bicycle, a mural. From 1979, Graciela Iturbide immersed herself in the Zapotec culture, with the women of Juchitàn, in the region of Oaxaca, on the Pacific coast. She lives among them, a job that will last six years. We feel in these images, the most famous of the photographer, a complicity and an intimacy with her subjects.
Interested in death rituals
Graciela Iturbide is interested in death rituals, so present in Mexican culture. To exorcise the disappearance of her daughter in 1970, she photographed the “little angels” who died prematurely in their coffins, a man dressed as a pregnant bride wearing a skull mask or a first communion girl with a skull. To the magical realism with which she has often been associated, Graciela Iturbide prefers the idea of a “dose of poetry and imagination” which pushes documentary interpretation further and finds in travels around the world the opportunity to know and wonder.
37 Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art
261 boulevard Raspail,
Every day except Monday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., evening on Tuesday until 10 p.m.
Prices: €11 / €7.50
From February 12 to May 29, 2022