YVONNE VENEGAS
The Most Beautiful Brides of Baja California
Photography
November 11th, 2006 - January 14th, 2007

 

The Most Beautiful Brides of Baja California
Rachel Teagle (Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, CA, USA)

Yvonne Venegas approaches photography as a method of social critique and self-exploration. Her ongoing project, The Most Beautiful Brides of Baja California, began three years ago in response to her father's work as one of Tijuana's society wedding photographers. He portrays the city's wealthy families in a "picture-perfect" world. She shoots the same weddings, showers, and birthday parties from the perspective of a documentary photographer-focusing on moments of equivocation when her subjects hesitate between revealing an authentic gesture and adopting a socially acceptable pose.
Yvonne Venegas' photography, on the other hand, is both of and inherently about class in Tijuana-a unique place with a social structure distinct from both the United States and Mexico. The Spanish term desde, loosely translated as from, with its implication of location, time, and personal point of view, aptly describes her work's intimate interaction with the city. Her previous photography-composed portraits of stereotypical Tijuana characters such as, wrestlers, vaqueros and hustlers-ascribed to a more straightforward documentary approach.
Now, Venegas studies Tijuana explicitly through the lens of class. Her work internalizes French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu's conviction that photography's function and meaning is inseparable from the implicit system of values maintained by a social or economic class. Venegas illustrates Bourdieu's belief in photography's authority to affirm generalized processes of social formation that must be understood through their local manifestations.
Her studies of group dynamics, seen in photographs such as Lighter and All Ready, speak to the complicated notion of class in Tijuana. While other artists emphasize the cultural hybridity of the city perched between the permissiveness of California culture and the constraints of Mexican tradition, Venegas reveals a social reaction against the fluidity that defines so many other aspects of this transnational society. Her recurring characters, events and places speak to the insularity of Tijuana's upper-classes.
 

 

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