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1 Graciela Iturbide. EL RAPTO (THE ABDUCTION). Juchitan, Oaxaca, 1986. Photograph. With permission of the artist. In this issue, Western American Literature features the work of internationally celebrated photographer Graciela Iturbide. Raised as an upper-middle-class, bourgeois woman, she reinvented herself after the sudden death of her six-yearold daughter, apprenticing herself to the great Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo. Combining the strange and the familiar, her photographs explore her dreamlike encounters with primarily rural women, speaking of “the transfiguration of death into something tangible—into intimacy, into witness,” as Roberto Tejada observes. Lyrical and surreal, the images nevertheless are political statements. As Tejada writes, one of Iturbide’s major concerns “has been to explore and articulate the ways in which a vocable such as ‘Mexico’ is meaningful only when understood as an intricate combination of histories and practices.” Attesting to the ongoing power of pre-Hispanic mythology, infused with an indigenous visual vocabulary and with Christian imagery, the photo­ graphs capture Mexico’s history of violence and grace in images of everyday life, revealing the power of tradition within a vibrant ever-changing culture. For more information, see Images of the Spirit: Photographs by Graciela Iturbide, with a preface by poet and critic Roberto Tejada. ...


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