Josephine Sacabo

Josephine Sacabo



May – July 2, 2000

El Mundo Inalcanzable de Susana San Juan is a series of photographs based on the Mexican novel Pedro Páramo a tragic myth of Mexico, by Juan Rulfo.

The setting is a town in ruins; the characters, souls wandering in it, doing penance, telling their stories.  Among them is Susana San Juan, whose entire discourse is one of memory and delusion, delivered from her tomb. It is the story of a woman forced to take refuge in madness as a means of protecting her inner world from the ravages of the forces around her: a cruel and tyrannical patriarchy, a church that offers no redemption, the senseless violence of revolution, death itself. These photographs are my attempt to depict this world as seen through the eyes of its tragic heroine. It is my homage in images to Mexico, to Juan Rulfo, and to Susana San Juans everywhere who will not be possessed.

This series was created in collaboration with Jacqueline Miró and is dedicated to my daughter Iris.

El Mundo Inalcanzable de Susana San Juan es una serie de fotografías basadas en la novela Mexicana Pedro Páramo de Juan Rulfo, un mito trájico de México. El entorno es un pueblo en ruinas, los personajes almas en pena que en murmullos cuentan sus historias. Entre ellos está Susana San Juan, cuyo relato es uno de recuerdo y alucinación. Es la historia de una mujer que se a refugiado en la locura, único medio de proteger su mundo interior de las fuerzas que la amenazan: un patriarcado cruel y tiránico, una iglesia que no ofrece redención, la violencia de una revolución y la muerte misma. Con estas fotografías intento ilustrar este mundo del punto de vista de esta heroina trájica. Son mi homenaje a México, a Juan Rulfo, y cada Susana San Juan en su lucha por no ser poseída.

Esta serie fué creada en colaboración con Jacqueline Miró y está dedicada a mi hija Iris.

Josephine Sacabo lives and works mostly in New Orleans where she has been strongly influenced by the unique ambiance of the city. She is a native of Laredo, Texas, and was educated at Bard College, NY. Previous to arriving in New Orleans, she lived and worked extensively in France and England. A self-taught photographer, her earliest work was in the photojournalistic tradition, influenced by Robert Frank, Josef Koudelka, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Sacabo moved away from the photojournalism and began making images that were subjective and introspective. She uses poetry as the genesis of her work and it is poets she lists as her most important influences – among them – Rainer Maria Rilke, Charles Baudelaire, Pedro Salinas, Vincente Huidobro, and Juan Rulfo. Her first visual essays in photography were inspired by literature – a suite of pictures made ten years ago suggested by the Duino Elegies of Rainer Maria Rilke.

In 1991, she created a series inspired by the work of Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro that appeared as a book, Une Femme Habitee, published by Editions Marval in Paris. Her current body of work, El Mundo Inalcanzable de Susana San Juan, is homage to the novel Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo. “When I first read Pedro Páramo,” said the photographer Josephine Sacabo, “I was struck by the familiarity of the world Juan Rulfo was describing – that ranchero culture that existed from Jalisco, Mexico, where Rulfo came from, as far north as San Antonio, Texas. This is the culture into which I was born, and I soon realized that this very ‘regional’ novel was in fact universal.”  Josephine is in negotiations with Bill Witcliff and the University of Texas Press for the publication of a new luxury edition of Pedro Páramo illustrated with her images in this series. Projected publication date is slated for Fall 2002. Sacabo’s work has been seen in Madrid, Buenos Aires, Paris, Los Angeles, Guatemala City, London, Mexico City, New York, and of course, in New Orleans. Her photographs are included in the collections at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Bibliotheque Nationale.