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Photographs by Joseph Rodríguez
with Introduction by Rubén Martinez
Essay by Trisha Ziff
Afterword by Pedro Meyer
Photography / Latin American Studies / Gender Studies
7.5 x 10 inches
55 duotone photographs
“Spirit, flesh: in the end the same quest, born of a crumbling economy and identity. The single most apparent sign is the proliferation in prostitution, an ‘outing’ of what has always existed, but furtively. The government has officially admitted that it is impossible to rein in the sex trade; Mexico City is not busy busting working women and men, but formulating legal and health guidelines for sex-workers.”
From Nezahualcoyotl, the largest working-class suburb on earth, to La Condesa, Mexico City’s hipster hangout, putas and putos stroll the streets, cruising for johns and surviving on their wit, born out of true desperation. These men, women, and everyone in-between are sex-workers in a country where extramarital sex is considered a mortal sin, and, confoundingly, where they ply their trade without official reprisal. In Mexico, macho husbands consort with other men, and virgencitas are anything but. Joseph Rodríguez and Rubén Martínez confront these contradictions head-on in Flesh Life: Sex in Mexico City.
In Rodríguez’s series of startlingly intimate black-and-white photographs and Martínez’ gripping text, we encounter a re-sexualized and re-spiritualized country in flux, embracing religious dogma while discarding taboos that once shrouded sex in a haze of artifice, euphemism, and history. Rodríguez’s beautiful and brutally honest images suggest a culture in which spirit and flesh have always been inextricably intertwined.
Internationally recognized photographer Joseph Rodríguez was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in such publications as
Rubén Martínez is the author of a trilogy of books on migration and globalization: The Other Side (Vintage, 1993), Crossing Over (Picador, 2002), and The New Americans (New Press, 2004). He is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of Houston. He previously collaborated with Joseph Rodríguez on East Side Stories: Gang Life in East L.A. (powerHouse Books, 1998).
One of Latin America’s most prominent photographers, Pedro Meyer has been widely published in magazines, books, and periodicals. He is the director of ZoneZero, the online community and gallery dedicated to the work of over 1,300 international photographers. His own work has been exhibited in over 200 group and solo shows, and is held by major museums worldwide. Meyer has taught and lectured in numerous parts of the world, and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation.