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Expanded Documentary

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Graciela Iturbide, Mexican, b. 1942
Untitled (flock of black birds flying from tree), Guanajuato, Mexico, 1999
Silver gelatin print on paper
16 in. x 20 in. (40.64 cm x 50.8 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Scripps College. Purchase made possible by the Jean and Arthur Ames Fund
Accession Number: 2005.6.3

Although Graciela Iturbide documents ordinary life in Mexico, her photographs often capture the extraordinary moment, when something seems both real and unreal. Such a moment appears in her picture of hundreds of birds flying en masse from a tree. On one level, she documents “flocking,” the collective animal behavior seen in birds, fish and insects, in which animals instinctively synchronize and align as they move together in space. On another level, however, Iturbide captures something more elusive, a sense of something magical as birds and leaves merge to be indistinguishable. Like Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), who influenced Iturbide, she searches for arresting moments when time seems to stop. Looking through her camera lens, in this photograph she freezes a moment uniting the ephemeral and the eternal. For Iturbide, “Photography is very subjective…”I never take any…only as a document; rather, I try to find something poetic in what I am photographing.” While she seizes nature’s changing moments, through photography she makes these moments permanent; as Iturbide says, “the fugitive remains and lasts.” Mary MacNaughton Associate Professor of Art History

Signed, dated and captioned by the artist in pencil on verso.

Silver gelatin print, printed by the artist.

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