ABOUT THIS BOOK
The Mexicanas is a game of double sets and double exposures; a game whose board is reminiscent of an ancient motley diaporama.
The first of these series, from early 2015, consists of images that seem to come out of the drawer of a collector of forgotten photographs: lost scenes from travel diaries that have passed through too many hands and too many moves; overexposed, accumulated, detached from a specific time or space. Images of Mexico City, as enchanting in their surface effects - veils, tints, perforations, superimpositions - as they are apparently devoid of intention.
Thus, rather than showing, these images are above all small exercises in obstructing the gaze: fabrics, folds of velvet, raffia curtains and unfolded canvases that interpose one sieve after another; branches and trees that are more like looms or lace; veils that are also crystals, reflections and textures.
Behind this gauzy parade, stereotypical images appear and disappear before the eyes to the rhythm of a postcard cart in a chacharita market: gringo cars in apparent disuse, hotel facades, street cake stands, billboards with charro figures, deco illustrations of elegant women, miniatures of cheap plastic dancers, the ingrown peaked collar of a pachuco's shirt, Chinese lamps, double-brimmed straw hats, the long feather of a pheasant.
Images that do not arrive in time: closed gates, raw canvas awnings secured by ropes that seem to make up an urban encampment, or a police unit crossed, in the foreground, by a figure on horseback about to disappear.
But also, and finally - as an intruder in this series that seems to herald the next - we see the headless body of a woman; her hands at her hips and the fold of her skirt yellowed by celluloid chemicals. As if this other world, between stereotype and opacity, were not hers at all.
A haunted world, no doubt. But what kind of enchantment is this, who haunts it, and who is haunted by the ghosts that haunt it? The spectral and overexposed city of these photographs is but the materialisation of a background noise over which other images - the Mexicans - strive to appear. Mexican, but also Spanish, Brazilian, Colombian... the images of these women, overexposed and interspersed in that carousel of worn-out stereotypes, make up a second series and obey another working procedure. They are portraits of women who, in the interior salons of the Barba Azul cabaret in Mexico City where they work as ficheras, have lent their image to make a gesture appear that is no longer their own: neither the spectacular gesture that stigmatises them inside the dance hall, nor the documentary gesture that naturalises them in the closed circuit of their intimate spaces.
On the contrary, the poses are an attempt to pull out a figure that is rehearsed in the encounter with the camera, and which thus embody a joint effort to give oneself an image. Against the spectral quality that exposes them to disappear, the effort to appear and invent a common gesture.
Miguel Errazu, "Back to exhibit".
This text accompanies Paola Bragado's publication, The Mexicanas.
Cádiz and Mexico City: Kursala and Hydra Inframundo, 2021.