Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Starfish, Graciela Iturbide, and a gift from Sardegna

Zoe with starfish, August 2007.

This portrait of my daughter, Zoe, is a tribute to my favorite photographer, Graciela Iturbide, the Hasselblad Award winner for 2008 who is best known for her disturbing yet moving depiction of indigenous Latin American cultures.

In the mystical world of Iturbide, animals are everywhere. Birds, iguanas, dogs and other animals populate her images of ritual, mourning, celebration and destruction like a menagerie of portents and symbols. In her self-portraits, eyes become birds, snails crawl up her skin, snakes come out of her mouth. "They are inside of me," she says of the animals, echoing the Mesoamerican belief in tona and nahual: the animal designated at birth to be a person's guardian angel (tona) and the animal the person transforms to in a separate reality (nahual), akin to the daemons in Golden Compass.

In yet another instance of one image begetting another, Sardegnan photographer Massi Peana sent us this really cool picture of himself with a red starfish and dedicated it to Zoe. Massi is a remarkable photographer whose self-portraits and images of his native island fortress of Alghero possess the painterly quality of dreamscapes. Aside from being a talented photographer, he is a chemist, a sportsman, an accomplished violinist, and is getting married in a few weeks. Tanti auguri, Massi!

Graciela Iturbide, Eyes to fly with? Coyoacan, Mexico, 1991.
Graciela Iturbide, Self-portrait, Coyoacan, Mexico, 1993.
Graciela Iturbide, Self-portrait in the country, Pachuca, Mexico, 1996.
Graciela Iturbide, Self-portrait with snakes, Oaxaca, Mexico, 2006.


  1. I lve the works of Graciela Iturbide. I am studying her photos for an academic essay. Indeed I am also going to Coyoacan in my first visit to Mexico.

  2. Beautiful !! She is my favorite photographer. Ir was nice to read the story of this picture.