Lola Álvarez Bravo: Subverting Surrealist Photography in Mexico

Walden, Lauren (2023) Lola Álvarez Bravo: Subverting Surrealist Photography in Mexico. Photography and Culture. pp. 1-25. ISSN 1751-4517

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Rather than merely draw inspiration from Surrealism, I argue that Mexican photographer Lola Álvarez Bravo actually subverts some of its founding tenets and iconography. Though archived letters documenting the turbulent relationship with her former husband Manuel Álvarez Bravo, I contend that empirical experience incited her to deconstruct the male anatomy similarly to the surrealist treatment of the female body, photographically subverting surrealist iconography from within. I consider how Lola’s staunchly Catholic religious beliefs impacted upon her feminist stance and how she navigated the female iconography of the Catholic faith in a Surrealist manner. Subsequently, I chart how Lola’s photography reversed stereotypical gender roles in a post-revolutionary society, repurposing the surrealist penchant for the mannequin in the service of feminism. Lola’s practice corresponds to a form of intersectional feminism, whereby her own battles concurrently engender sympathy for other marginalized communities such as the poor and the indigenous. Nevertheless, due to her reliance upon government commissions, her photographic repertoire does sometimes stray into propaganda despite her ardent denials thereof; Manuel clearly had more artistic freedom compared to Lola. Lola’s subversion of surrealism is underpinned by the dichotomy of the generalized and concrete other, elaborated by feminist-cosmopolitan philosopher Seyla Benhabib.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
14 February 2023Accepted
15 February 2023Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Lola Álvarez Bravo, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, feminism, photography, surrealism, Mexico
Subjects: CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-05 - media studies
CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-01 - creative arts and design > CAH25-01-04 - cinematics and photography
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Institute of Media and English > Birmingham School of Media
Depositing User: Gemma Tonks
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2023 15:44
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2023 15:44

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