© Graciela Iturbide, 2022
Death is one of the cardinal subjects in the work of Graciela Iturbide. In the series entitled En el nombre del Padre [In the Name of the Father], the artist documents the killing of goats that occurs during the annual festivities in the region of La Mixteca, where death becomes present and ritualized by the multitude. This work captures an experience of death that is different from the private and intimate process of grieving for the loss of a loved one. In La Mixteca, death is summoned and conjured simultaneously as the community’s annual celebration expresses and renews a cyclical temporality; one that always returns, that is never extinguished. It is an experience of time that engages the rites of death and resurrection. According to what is being documented in these photographs, what is ultimately recurrent in La Mixteca are a series of gestures that are repeated annually, indefinitely and onto different bodies.
The series follows a path parallel to the ongoing slaughter. The initial images of an enormous herd of goats give way to prayers, blood, and piled corpses. In the photograph entitled Carmen, the protagonist executes the dismembering of a corpse with a knife held between her teeth. Like in the rest of the images within La Mixteca, the timeless gesture—like that of a bacchant who is officiating a sacrifice— embodies a vision of the sacred similar to what the renowned magazine Documents illustrated with Éli Lotar’s photographs of the slaughterhouse in La Villet, Paris, in 1929.