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Expanded Documentary

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Graciela Iturbide, Mexican, b. 1942
Mujer ángel, Desierto de Sonora, México, 1979
Silver gelatin print on paper
16 x 20 in. (41 x 51 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Scripps College. Purchase made possible by the Jean and Arthur Ames Fund
Accession Number: 2018.19.1

Alternate Title: Angel Woman, Sonora Desert, Mexico

A woman heads into the desert, boombox in hand. Her long, flowing hair and billowing skirts contrast with the modern musical invention she holds. The landscape and open sky stretch out into infinity, with a cluster of mountains in the distance, and the woman moves toward it with confidence and a sense of purpose. Her image is an anomaly to the viewer, as most would not associate her traditional appearance with the rock music one might imagine she is listening to (it is the late 70’s, after all). And yet it is fitting- one senses that she couldn’t care less what the audience thinks. She is on a mission, and no one is getting in her way.

Before pursuing photography, Graciela Iterbide wanted to be a filmmaker. It is in photographs like this one that her interest in film comes to life, with its visual narrative and dramatic scenery. One has the sense that it is a snapshot of a story. In 1978, Iterbide was commissioned by the Ethnographic Archive of the National Indigenous Institute of Mexico to photograph indigenous communities in Mexico. Iterbide became close with the Seri people of the Sonoran Desert the following year, and took this photograph on a walk with this Seri woman to the area's caves. The photographer was interested in the way the community stayed true to their own traditions while simultaneously accepting parts of capitalistic American culture. All of Iterbide’s indigenous portraits were taken in collaboration with the indigenous communities portrayed, and the consent of the subject.

Vivian Monteiro, SC '23

Signed by the artist in black ink, lower right, recto.

Silver gelatin print, printed by the artist.

Object Description
A woman (left foreground), her back to the viewer, with flowing hair and skirts, carries a large radio in her right hand as she moves deeper into a desert landscape.

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