Graciela Iturbide (1942 - )

Benares, India (1999)

Silver gelatin photograph on paper
height: 21cm
width: 31.4cm

Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund and the PINTA Museums Acquisitions Programme 2011-2012


Iturbide has often worked outside of Mexico, including in India, where this photograph was taken on the streets of Benares or Varanasi, a city on the banks of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh. Here Iturbide’s shadow is the smaller of the two. She has turned the photograph on its side, a change in the original orientation that shifts the viewer’s perspective and adds to the slightly surreal feel of the image, which shows metal tools and false teeth laid on the canvas cloth of a street dentist. In both subject matter and composition the photograph demonstrates the influence of Manuel Álvarez Bravo’s work on Iturbide and, if not for the sign written in Hindi, could easily be a scene from a Mexican street. Benares, known for being the oldest continuously inhabited city in India, is respected for its ‘high’ culture and religion but, in choosing to focus on a street vendor, Iturbide is able to bring out universal themes that connect this place to her country of origin.

(Display caption from the exhibition Mexican Migrations, 2013)

browse the collection

artist a-z > work type > advanced search >