Our pick of the key stories from the past week, including: World Press Photo Foundation’s 6×6 talents from North and Central America; Kensuke Koike and Thomas Sauvin’s No More No Less; Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico; JA Mortram’s Small Town Inertia; and the Jimei x Arles festival in China
Behind a shop vitrine, a human skull, wearing a helmet adorned with a swastika, grins. Next to it, an animal – apparently taxidermic – stands rigid on the floor. The silhouette of a pair of legs belonging to a passer-by on the street reflects in the glass. Above this desultory display, a banner stuck to the top of the window reads, “Mexico… ¡quiero conocerte!”. In this single photograph, taken in 1975 in Chiapas, Graciela Iturbide projects her vision of Mexico: a country of political, religious, social, cultural and economic pluralities and tensions. A place where contrasts present themselves at every turn – sometimes harmonious, sometimes tense.
It is this multilayered image of Mexico that Iturbide has slowly peeled back and revealed through her photography over the last five decades. She has travelled extensively across her own country, between urban and rural landscapes, living with different communities, and moving from the physical to the transcendental, the ancient to the contemporary, witnessing and experiencing the juxtapositions intertwined in Mexican culture.
The World Press Photo Foundation has announced the six talents from North and Central America in its ongoing 6×6 Global Talent Program. Aimed at picking out under-recognised visual story-tellers from around the world, the 6×6 programme is now on its fifth region, out of the six identified around the world. This time, the talents picked out were: Dylan Hausthor, USA; Ian Willms, Canada; Mariceu Erthal García, Mexico; Nydia Blas, USA; Tomas Ayuso, Honduras; and Yael Esteban Martínez Velázquez, Mexico.
Each talent has been picked out for two stories: Hausthor, for example, submitting a project called Past The Pond, Setting Fires, about arson in small-town America; and Wood Grain Lick, a documentary and fictional look at life on the edges. Willms’ projects are As long as the sun shines, a story about oil sands extraction in northern Alberta, Canada, and its effect on the local community; and We shall see, about the death of his biker father. Mariceu Erthal García’s projects are Iriana, shot on a holiday in Cuba; and Letters to Gemma, about a young Mexican woman who disappeared seven years ago.
Nelson Morales was seven years old when he saw a Muxe for the first time. Seeing an individual he didn’t identify as a woman proudly wearing a tiny swimsuit, fluffy feather boa and glistening sequins at a local festival, he was “shocked”, he says.
But Morales was growing up in the city of Oaxaca, central Mexico, where the Muxes are regarded as a third gender – assigned male at birth but interested in codes of dress and behaviour associated with femininity, often from a young age. Asked to photograph the Muxes community, Morales soon found himself liberated by them.
He continued to photograph the Muxes – and himself – for eight years, hoping to capture the complexity of their lives and to confront his own identity as he joined their community. His book, Musas Muxes, is published by Mexican collective Inframundo.
In the city of Oaxaca, the Muxes are regarded as a third gender. They are assigned male at birth, but from a young age they dress and behave in ways associated with the female gender.
One day, Morales was asked by a friend to photograph this gender-fluid community, and soon he found himself liberated by them. Over eight years he photographed them, and himself, hoping to capture the complexity of the Muxes lives, while confronting his own identity in the sensual and challenging space of the Muxes.
On 7 September 2017, just before midnight, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake hit Mexico’s southern coast, the second strongest earthquake in the country’s history. It was felt by 50 million people across Mexico and, in the heavily affected states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, killed dozens of people and left over 100,000 homes damaged.
When the earthquake hit, Andres Millan was living in his hometown in Bogota, Colombia, preparing for a four-month residency that would start in November at Casa El Ocote, a gallery and cultural centre in Oaxaca. At quarter to midnight, alerts started to pop up on Millan’s mobile phone. When he switched on the news, the first image he saw was of the Mexican flag at the Municipal Palace in Oaxaca, lit up by lights coming from police cars.
My home is my castle references these first images that Millan saw from Colombia when the earthquake hit. “I wanted to recreate the light from the police car, so the photos are made with two flashes, one with a red filter and another with a blue one. The mixture of colours made the images acquire that pink colour,” he explains.
Between 1993 and 2010, Harvey Stein visited Mexico 14 times, which makes every year bar three. Fascinated by what he found, he photographed communities in small towns and villages, mostly during festivals such as Day of the Dead, Easter, and Independence Day.
In his new book, Mexico – Between Life and Death, Stein explores the disparities of a culture he became fascinated by, showing Mexico as a country of contrast – where life meets death, deep-rooted tradition meets creeping progress, and religious belief meets worldly corruption.
“Most of my initial photography projects have grown by asking myself questions about my heritage, culture and where I come from,” says Kovi Konowiecki, who’s currently based between his native California and Mexico City. Brought up in a Jewish home in Long Beach, the 25-year- old former footballer has intimately captured his hometown and its surrounding areas, as well as travelling further afield, to document the wider Jewish diaspora. The nebulous concept of home – what it means and what it is like to voyage beyond it – is a recurring theme in his work. From exploring contemporary notions of Orthodox Judaism in England, the US and Israel, to the racial and cultural discrimination faced by Ethiopian Jews in Israel, Konowiecki’s drive to better understand aspects of his own identity has brought him into contact with a broad range of distinct cultures and communities. Over the past three years, he began to trace similarities between the people he was photographing, who all tended to occupy a liminal space between belonging and isolation. His latest project, …
ALMANAQUE opened in February 2016 in Mexico City, with a dedication to contemporary photography. The gallery exhibits and sells international works from both established and emerging artists, exploring current manifestations on image as an artistic dispositive. Alongside gallery work, ALMANAQUE has begun a Portafolio initiative, offering professional consultations on collecting, curating and art direction for individuals, corporations and institutions. We spoke to director Arturo Delgado ahead of Photo London, to find out more about the artists ALMANAQUE are bringing to the event, and to hear Arturo’s insights on collecting. What excites you the most about exhibiting your artists at Photo London? The opportunity to share our multi-award winning artists with the UK public. We are bringing four artists to the fair; three from Mexico and one from Russia, representing several generations of contemporary imagery. These renowned artists all have an unexpected bond to the UK. Which artists’ work will you be showing at Photo London? Why? We will be showing work by the preeminent Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, one of the most renowned Mexican photographers, whose …
With her tent pitched on a local family’s front garden, Cécile Smetana Baudier spent five weeks photographing Costa Chica’s hidden Afro-Mexican community
“I’m not concerned with being an environmental photographer, I’m concerned with making images that make you feel something you can’t quite understand. There’s something that happens when you’re presented with what you can’t quite fathom.” In Matter, Michael Lundgren explores deserts in Spain, the US and Mexico but his landscapes are a departure from more traditional photographs in this field. He wants us to question the world around us and find a magical realism in life, death and our environment.