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© Graciela Iturbide, 2022
In 1993 the French newspaper Libération presented a section dedicated to the subject of happiness and requested a photograph from Graciela Iturbide to illustrate one of the articles to be published within the segment. The photographer accepted the commission and sent an image she decided to entitle—not without humor —Happiness. The image belongs to the series En el nombre del padre [In the Name of the Father], and was published that same year. The project had been produced a year prior and involved researching the concepts of ritual and sacrifice. Iturbide decided to document the goat killings that take place every year in La Mixteca, a region in southern Mexico.
The image displays some of the traits that are characteristic of work that is closest to the registers of documentary photography and anthropological study. In her observation of the vast, complex, and rich rural Mexican world there always seems to be an approach that is motivated by wonder and empathy. However, her photographs do not fall into an exoticist categorization or an idealization of anything that is rural or indigenous, and likewise they do not contest the realities of their settings from a false objective distance. There is emotional and physical closeness in her gaze, as is apparent from the crude presence of the corpses, the blood, and the gestures in En el nombre del Padre.