Cover

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Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Photographs

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pp. ix-xii

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xvi

This book began as an extended conversation with Eleazar López Zamora, director of the Fototeca of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) from 1980 to 1996. He introduced me to the work of Ignacio (Nacho) López Bocanegra (1923–86) and, as just one expression of his efforts to stimulate research on Mexican photography, ...

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Author’s Note

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pp. xvii-xviii

What follows is an examination of the photography of Nacho López, Mexico’s Eugene Smith, who fused social commitment with aesthetic power in the photoessays he created for illustrated magazines during the 1950s. Like Smith, López was a photojournalist, a position that generally allows little input into the cropping of images or the titles given them. ...

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1. Documenting Mexico

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pp. 1-22

The undeniable existence of the apparently invisible, the dignity of the evidently insignificant, and the quest for an aesthetic to render their testimonies—these were the focus of Nacho López, who photographed the daily life of the downtrodden for illustrated magazines during the 1950s.1 ...

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2. Photojournalism and Photoessays during the 1950s

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pp. 23-64

The decade during which Nacho López published in the illustrated magazines has been one of the shadow regions of modern Mexican history.1 The 1950s were not a cataclysmic era, such as the epoch of 1910–20, when the Mexican Revolution was the first movement of the twentieth century that appeared to create the possibility of profound socioeconomic and political transformations. ...

3. Photoessays by Nacho López

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Indians

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pp. 65-72

With his first photoessay, Nacho López entered the world of the illustrated magazines as if it were his home. “Noche de muertos” appeared in Mañana during November of 1950, and his portrayal of Purépecha families during their all-night vigil on Janitzio Island in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, demonstrated López’s interest in exploring Mexico’s pluralities.1 ...

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Prison

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pp. 72-78

A week after his 1950 debut with “Noche de muertos,” Nacho López reappeared in Mañana with a photoessay made in collaboration with Carlos Argüelles. “Prisión de sueños” (Prison of dreams) indicated that the young photojournalist’s strength was to be urban, not rural, concerns, and, with the exception of “Ante el umbral,” ...

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Church

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pp. 79-81

The fascination that the “sacred and profane” held for Nacho López led him to collaborate with Ángel Fernando Solana in his next photoessay, “Virgen india,” on the celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico.33 The opening image establishes the juxtaposition of the sacrosanct and the irreverent that so defines the article. ...

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From the Archive

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pp. 82-90

Producing illustrated articles on almost a weekly basis during November and December of 1950, Nacho López developed a photoessay form previously unseen in Mexico. “La calle lee” (The street reads) and “Yo también he sido niño bueno” (I’ve been a good kid too) are what might be called “archival photoessays”— ...

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Down but Not Out

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pp. 91-102

Disillusion was also the theme of “Noche de Reyes” (Night of the Magi), a photoessay that Nacho López did together with Carlos Argüelles a short time after having published “Niño bueno.”53 It is the Night of the Magi and the indigents sleep on petates, wrapped in their filthy rags, dreaming about “that childhood of the Magic Kings.” ...

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Celebrities

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pp. 102-107

To judge by his publications, it appears that Nacho López worked in the illustrated magazines for relatively short, but intense, periods. For example, between November of 1950 and April of 1951 he published fifteen photoessays, an average of three a month. ...

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Many Mexicos

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pp. 107-117

The photoessay “Profesionales de lo insólito” (Professionals of the unique) presents individuals with unusual work—bullfighters, clowns, organ players, acrobats— including some of López’s familiar humildes: an outdoor barber, a garbageman, and a beggar.79 ...

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Nacho López Directs

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pp. 117-127

Nacho López collaborated with Siempre! from the first issue, and he was given the red-carpet treatment to which he was accustomed. Although he did not occupy a privileged position in its masthead, the magazine published at least one photoessay by him in its first six issues. ...

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Hell Is for the Humble

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pp. 127-150

After appearing in each of Siempre!’s first six issues, Nacho López disappeared from its pages until the following year. In June of 1954, he created the most critically powerful photoessay ever published in the Mexican illustrated magazines, “Sólo los humildes van al infierno” (Only the poor go to hell), a reportage on Mexico City’s delegaciones (police stations and holding cells).119 ...

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Mexico City

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pp. 150-162

After “Sólo los humildes,” López’s own life began to be rearranged and his contributions to the illustrated magazines became increasingly sporadic. He wrote that he had left photojournalism in 1957, and was working in weekly newsreels, “with the perspective that I will soon be making important documentary films.”136 ...

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4. Thinking about Documentary

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pp. 163-192

The daily and weekly tasks to which photojournalists are usually assigned leave them little time to meditate on their work. Moreover, their forte is images, not words; what they have to say, they say with pictures. Some few photojournalists have written about the practice of their craft, or offered historical overviews of press photography in particular situations.1 ...

Notes

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pp. 193-238

Select Bibliography

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pp. 239-244

Index

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pp. 245-250