There exists a long history in art of depicting pain and suffering as devils in the flesh – Goya, Blake, Bosch etc. These images are simply my version of that metaphor.
In this short series I wanted to show the invisible struggles within – secrets not to be shared in an uncertain world. What may lie behind the surface of a beautiful face.
An appeal to look deeper in ourselves and others and find solace in shared pain.
“…THOSE WHO DANCE WERE CALLED INSANE BY THOSE WHO COULD NOT HEAR THE MUSIC” – NIETZSCHE
THIS SERIES IS AN HOMAGE TO NAHUI OLIN (B. CARMEN MONDRAGON), THE MUSE, ARTIST, POET, SOCIAL REBEL AND GREAT BEAUTY OF MEXICO IN THE 1920s – A WOMAN WHO MESMERIZED THE ARTISTS OF THE PERIOD – DIEGO RIVERA, DR ATL, AND EDWARD WESTON AMONG OTHERS – WITH HER EXTRAORDINARY BEAUTY, HER INTELLIGENCE, AND HER EXTRAVAGANT, UNINHIBITED BEHAVIOR.
A PRECOCIOUS FREE SPIRIT WHO BELIEVED IN THE POWER AND THE BEAUTY OF HERSELF AS A WOMAN.
A WOMAN WHO CONSIDERED HER BODY THE SHAPE OF HER SPIRIT AND REFUSED TO HIDE IT.
A WOMAN WHO LOVED PASSIONATELY AND TO EXTREMES.
A WOMAN WHOSE TEMPESTUOUS AND TORMENTED 5 YEAR LOVE AFFAIR IN A RUINED CONVENT WITH DR. ATL, FAMED PAINTER AND VOLCANOLOGIST, BECAME THE SCANDAL OF THE DAY. HE WAS TO REFER TO HER HENCEFORTH AS ‘MON DRAGON’ (MY DRAGON).
A WOMAN WHO LIVED HER SEXUALITY FREELY AND WITHOUT PREJUDICES.
A WOMAN WHO BOWED TO NO MAN OR WOMAN AND COURAGEOUSLY LIVED HER LIFE AS SHE SAW FIT.
A WOMAN WHO LOVED ART, POETRY, SEX, CATS, FLOWERS, PARIS, THE SEA AND THE SUN.
A WOMAN WHOSE EYES SPOKE VOLUMES.
A WOMAN OF POETIC DELUSIONS.
A WOMAN WHO TOOK THE SUN IN AS HER LOVER EVERY MORNING, CARRIED HIM THROUGH THE STREETS OF MEXICO CITY AND LAID HIM TO REST AT THE END OF EACH DAY.
A WOMAN WHO DAILY VISITED HER YOUNG BLIND NIECE TO READ CERVANTES, VICTOR HUGO, ALEXANDER DUMAS AND VOLTAIRE TO HER.
A WOMAN WHO AT THE DEATH OF HER LAST GREAT LOVE WITHDREW INTO SADNESS, POVERTY AND SOLITUDE.
AN OLD WOMAN WHO WITH HER SMALL GOVERNMENT PENSION FED ALL THE STRAY CATS IN THE ALAMEDA PARK OF MEXICO CITY.
A WOMAN WHO HAVING BEEN BORN INTO THE WEALTHY CONSERVATIVE MEXICAN ARISTOCRACY WAS SHUNNED BY HER FAMILY AND SUPPORTED HERSELF – BEHOLDEN TO NO ONE – FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE.
A WOMAN WHOM THE SOCIAL ELITE DECLARED INSANE AND THEREBY ERASED.
SPECIAL THANKS TO ELENA PONIATOWSKA FOR HER CHAPTER ON NAHUI OLIN IN HER BOOK “LAS SIETE CABRITAS” TO ADRIANA MALVIDO FOR HER BOOK “NAHUI OLIN” AND TO ELIZABETH GILLETTE.
“What would such an inexperienced soul do without the solution that a body had been” – Clarice Lispector
“Snapshots of the life within.
Echoes of thoughts and feelings expressed in the only terms I really understand which are those of light and shadow and the softening of edges.
The things expressed have already happened. Here they are remembered tenderly, in the repose of passion.” – Josephine Sacabo
“My transcendent experience with nature. Each time I return I find more there. Light and water and the infinite universe contained within. I am there to remember it, see it, and record it.” – Josephine Sacabo
[2010, MEXICO AND NEW ORLEANS, TRANSLATION OF ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS]
“Noche Oscura was inspired by the poem of that title, one of the greatest of all love poems in Spanish, by St. John of the Cross, the 16th century Spanish mystic. A woman waits in the night until all is quiet. She goes out into the darkness guided only by the light within, meets her lover and becomes one with him, in a state of mystical union leaving her cares abandoned among the lilies.” – Josephine Sacabo
(“Hear Me With Your Eyes”) For Sor Juana
“This series was inspired by the life and work of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the 17th century Mexican nun who was one of the greatest poets and intellectuals of the American continent. She created the most renowned salon of her time from behind the bars of her cloistered cell.
And in that cell she studied science and philosophy, wrote poems, plays, and music, and championed women’s right to intellectual and spiritual freedom.
In the end, after resisting valiantly for over 20 years, she was silenced by the Inquisition.
It is my hope that these images will break that silence and we will once again ‘hear her with our eyes.'” – Josephine Sacabo
“These images are glimpses of the light that prevails even in the harshest places once the human spirit has assimilated it – images that have become a part of us beyond their meaning.” – Josephine Sacabo
“Invisible connection is stronger than visible. To arrive at the basic structure of things we must go into their darkness.” – Heraclitus
“Only what we extract from the obscurity within truly belongs to us.” – Proust
“We dream in images. Images are at the most basic level of our true psychic reality. Our dreams are the metaphorical pictures of our individual realities. I believe that through them we can forge a deeper connection between ourselves and the world. By uniting dream and reality we can produce an art that will resonate and in the process learn something about ourselves and others. I photograph things not as I ‘see’ them but rather as I might have ‘dreamt’ them.
The way I’ve put it together in my head is that you have the moon moving across the sky, looking in our windows and seeing our dreams. The ‘Nocturnes’ are what she sees.” – Josephine Sacabo
“I’m after what’s beyond thought.” – Clarice Lispector
“This series is guided with exquisite precision by the writings of the Brazilian author Clarice Lispector.
She has guided me to what I call the ‘I wish I had my camera’ moments in my life – moments of experiencing the essence of something before it is embodied in a word or image; moments ‘beyond thought’.
She found the words and I in turn have formed an image for her words. I hope these images have done justice to the power of the sensations at their source. And to Clarice Lispector.” – Josephine Sacabo
“Walking the graffiti gauntlet from my house to my studio, I am confronted by a lexicon of rampant misogyny, violence and sexual insults. The messages may be verbal but their effects are visceral. We are being ‘tagged’- as hos bitches and worse. But I am not that woman.
Why have women become the targets of the rage and frustration expressed? Why are women bearing the consequences for injustices they have not committed? Where are the graffiti messages by women meant for men?
I do not have the answers to these questions, all I have are these images of what it feels like to be a woman walking these streets. And in this I know I am not alone.” – Josephine Sacabo
“All that’s left for me is to bark at God.” – Clarice Lispector
“I began working on the images one day out of anguish and I ended up rescued by a depth of meaning that I never really meant to touch.
The resulting fifty-two images are 21 x 26 inch hand-colored photogravures combining the graffiti of New Orleans with religious imagery from San Miguel in Mexico – the dueling iconographies of the two places I call home.
I have no final judgment to make on the subjects. Each expression is presented with its consolations and its cruelties. They are what they are and I hope the viewer finds something in them that speaks to what they themselves may have experienced, needed or felt.” – Josephine Sacabo