The moment I walked into the exhibit, Revolution & Ritual at Scripps College, I immediately realized that I know nothing about Mexican history. Although an in-depth knowledge of Mexican history isn’t required to enjoy the beautiful imagery, it sparked my interest in how my Father’s country has evolved. Revolution & Ritual covers the span of over 100 years – the Mexican Revolution to present day – from the perspective of three different generations of photographers; Sara Castrejón (1888-1962), Graciela Iturbide (b.1942), and Tatiana Parcero (b. 1967). A major exhibition from these three female Mexican artists is not only a treat but offers us a rare look at a centuries worth of visual history.
Castrejón was the only woman to document the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) and is one of the first pioneering female war photographers. Even though she didn’t consider herself a photojournalist, she was the only photographer to capture Mexican armed forces as they passed through her remote city of Teloloapan, Guerrero from the rural Southern vantage point. There are many blurred pictures of the troops marching and riding through the countryside headed to the frontlines, meaning that she was capturing movement in a time when it was very difficult to take non-staged photographs. What I found most interesting was her documentation of the different roles women and children played in the Revolution. Women were typically soldiers and nurses, while children as young as 13 –who had either joined or been forced into the military– were spies, guards, messengers, or stable boys. Castrejón’s photographs of women and children within the Revolutionary efforts are some of the few in existence and many have been seldom been seen in Mexico let alone the US.