Fig. 13. Graciela Iturbide, b. 1942
|In spite of America's bullish way with the world, people persist. They refuse to be diminished to grist for the economic mill. Graciela Iturbide's marvelous photograph, Angel/Woman (1979; fig. 13), shows a Mexican woman in the Sonoran Desert fabricating her existence from a cultural past, a bleak landscape, and the consumerist world of American capitalism represented by the ghetto blaster she totes through a difficult passage. Identity is not something one inherits intact and is destined to carry through life as a fixed burden. Character is the product of history, a hybrid of cultures, and the choices that individual people make about the lives they wish to lead. Identity is negotiated between the present and the|
past. This woman, a Seri Indian whose face is hidden from view, walks in her traditional dress as if out of the magical space of a novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. She is an anomaly, but also a survivor, and more: she is a harbinger of a larger, future American identity. This mysterious Angel and Woman bears a message of what may come to pass as the border culture between Mexico and the United States broadens across North and Central America in a historical rhythm of change that we can now only begin to intuit.