Raúl de Nieves: Fina, the first solo museum exhibition by Raúl de Nieves (b. 1983, Michoacán, Mexico), will feature new work in a site-specific installation developed for the Cleveland Museum of Art at the Transformer Station. Narrative facets of the installation will be informed by de Nieves’s experience of Mexican cultural traditions, considered through the lens of this moment in history. These will unfold in relation to the particular architecture of the Transformer Station. As a whole, the installation will be characterized by the artist’s ongoing interest in transforming humble materials into spectacular objects that alter the spaces around them.
De Nieves, who lives in New York, traces his artistic practice back to his childhood in Mexico: at school and alongside family members, he learned traditional Latin American sewing and beadwork that now permeate his art in multiple ways. At the age of nine de Nieves migrated to San Diego with his mother and two brothers. Later he moved to San Francisco and finally to New York, where his multimedia practice, including painting, sculpture, and performance, has taken shape. De Nieves has presented solo projects and performances at The Kitchen and the Watermill Center, New York (both 2017), and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2016). He has participated in major contemporary art surveys, including Documenta 14 (2018), the 2017 Whitney Biennial, and Greater New York at MoMA/PS1 (2015). His work is part of the Swiss Institute for Contemporary Art’s inaugural exhibition in its new building that opened in New York in summer 2018.
The photographs of Graciela Iturbide not only bear witness to Mexican society but express an intense personal and poetic lyricism about her native country. One of the most influential photographers active in Latin America today, Iturbide captures everyday life and its cultures, rituals, and religions, while also raising questions about paradoxes and social injustice in Mexican society. Her photographs tell a visual story of Mexico since the late 1970s—a country in constant transition, defined by the coexistence of the historical and modern as a result of the culture’s rich amalgamation of cultures. For Iturbide, photography is a way of life and a way of seeing and understanding Mexico and its beauty, challenges, and contradictions.
This is the first major East Coast presentation of Iturbide’s work, featuring approximately 125 photographs that span her five-decade-long career. Organised into nine sections, the exhibition opens with early photographs, followed by three series focused on three of Mexico’s many indigenous cultures: Juchitán captures the essential role of women in Zapotec culture; Los que viven en la arena (Those Who Live in the Sand) concentrates on the Seri people living in the Sonoran Desert; and La Mixteca documents elaborate goat-slaughtering rituals in Oaxaca, serving as critical commentary on the exploitation of workers. Thematic groupings highlight Iturbide’s explorations of various aspects of Mexican culture, including fiestas, death and mortality, and birds and their symbolism. Her more recent work is presented in two series related to Mexico’s cultural and artistic heritage, featuring plants—mainly cacti—in “intensive care” at the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Gardens, as well as El baño de Frida (Frida’s Bathroom), a selection of photographs in Gallery 335 depicting personal belongings in Frida Kahlo’s bathroom at the Casa Azul that had been locked away for 50 years after the artist’s death.
Iturbide’s powerful and provocative photographs are anti-picturesque, anti-folkloric. Her work embodies her empathetic approach to photography and her deep connection with her subjects, asking questions through its capacity for imaginary associations. Drawn primarily from Iturbide’s own collection, Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico also includes the Museum’s recent acquisition of 37 works by the artist, as well as loans from museums and private collections throughout the US and Mexico. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue produced by MFA Publications.
Click here for more information on the exhibition, and here for the accompanying publication