Guns & Gangs Meet Grape Glamor

“101 Tragedies of Enrique Metinides,” Enrique Metinides’s opening at Aperture Foundation, was a concise documentation of crime scenes taken in Mexico. Curator Trisha Ziff completed a comprehensive collection, as well as filmed an in-depth account, of Metinides’s fifty years worth of artworks. Despite the works previously being exhibited internationally, this exhibition marks the first time that the artist also selected personal pieces, thereby offering insight, thoughts and commentary to the show.

Back in Time

Metinides began his prolific career at the age of twelve, when he published his first photograph. He would continue his work as an artist for the next five decades, capturing the intimacies of murder, crime, car wrecks and other accidents. His images left me with a haunting feeling. Their large scale format was confrontational; there was no way to escape the stark reality of the images. Daily horrors usually enter our lives via newspapers, television and word of mouth, but being in a room surrounded by all these deaths and tragedies was a much more sobering experience.

Metinides was front and center when he took his pictures, shadowing crime, making his life work to record death and suffering. He captured the raw intensity, the unedited spectrum of emotions and actions lying underneath the surface of people. The brutality is honest, truthful, and in his case, a part of his life. The constant flow of daily tragedy as well as being part of photojournalism give the photos a clinical and detached edge which makes the resulting image almost cruel. The viewer becomes involved, standing behind the camera, witnessing the pain, and being unable to interfere.

Enrique_MetinidesNYC-AP skype swith artist Enrique Metinides. Hey girl! Photo: Camilo Fuentealba

Amongst the many images of car crashes and trains overturned from the rails, with people still trapped inside the vehicles, were murders and deaths. A woman is laying face down on a bed in a festive garb, blood pouring out of her bag and onto her legs. The photographer’s proximity is frightening because the viewer equally as engaged. Two men try to pull out a boy’s arm from a meat grinder where he has stuck his arm, his nails and fingers oozing through the holes along with minced meat. This image made my stomach turn, the gore was so unbearably realistic and the pain unimaginable. A woman is holding her dead child in her arms, looking directly into the camera, defeat and denial written all over her face.

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