Graciela Iturbide was born in Mexico in 1942 and her first run-in with ‘professional’ photography happened in 1979 when she was asked by a man to document his village in Mexico’s Sonoran desert. Her works are included in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum in New York. She is the recipient of the Hasselblad Foundation Photography Award in 2008. Hindustan Times asked her two questions before the exhibition of her works with those of Raghu Rai open next week:
You are interested in capturing movement, whether it be of birds in flight or emotions across a face. Do you agree?
Yes, that is correct. I have always enjoyed capturing photos of birds especially in India where I seem to find a lot more. I want to capture the motion of flying or the motion of freedom. These works are based on the writings of two poets. The first is a 16th century Spanish poet San Juan de la Cruz who explained the five qualities of the solitary bird: 1. It flies the highest 2. It does not suffer for company, not even its own kind 3. It aims its beak to the sky 4. It does not have a definite colour 5. It sings softly. The second was a Sufi poet, Attar, who spoke of the language of birds. For me one of the very important aspects in my photography is surprise.
Every photo has a point (punctum) where the eye moves to. Do you see this detail before you shoot? No, nothing is a conscious effort. Almost all the photographs are not. For example, when I make a portrait, I work in complicity. Most of the times, the people in the picture have asked me to take a photograph and I cannot control the punctum in the photograph. An Eye For An Eye will open on September 1, at the Gallery of the Instituto Cervantes, New Delhi, and will be on display until October 31.