History of photography is reviewed again and again, but always under specific criteria of the historial and the serious, ignoring what seems inconsequential. Under those standards, what to preserve in the stock of photo libraries and newspaper records is decided along with what to keep for the construction of the collective memory. But a gigantic bundle of images, that in due course were of popular consumption, and that linked entertainment with eroticism along with the sensuality of a specific group of women, are now aslant by a patriarchal vision.
Las fabulosas, outstanding vedettes from the 70s and 80s, where characters that from theater and cabaret stages, the small screen and the seventh art in its most patibular version, build a different image of the feminine, the body and sexuality of soap opera women in Mexico, in the midst of economic crises, accustomed to lousy televised entertainment at the time. All this in parallel to the growing wave of women’s liberation movements that seeked legitimacy and equal rights.
How many times was it necessary to repeat the names of Lyn May, Sasha Montenegro, Princess Leia, Wanda Seux, Rossy Mendoza, Olga Breeskin or princess Yamal to become part of the collective language and imagination? How much permeated the “Mexican Night” in today’s society? Why a film made with such limited means has had so much echo in portraying the city and its inhabitants?
Nowadays, these images are perceived with the same nostalgia as the Golden Age rumberas from the mexican cinema provoked in authors like Carlos Monsiváis, because they show us a Mexico City that became blurred after the earthquake of 1985.
María José Cuevas’ research for the production of the documentary Bellas de Noche are materials, press collection and gathering of images of Jesús Magaña, Antonio Caballero, Paulina Lavista, Juan Ponce, el Archivo Cinematográfico de Permanencia Voluntaria, IMCINE and AGN’s Fondo Hermanos Mayo. In short, the axis of this photographic exhibit that recalls an entire era and its divas.
In these vedettes’ sinuosus curves the story of Mexico City is drawn and how we have changed.
Research and File María José Cuevas
Curatorship Melissa Valenzuela / Gustavo Prado / Samantha Urdapilleta
December 2016 to March 2017.