Coming soon to Legenda: Photographing the Unseen Mexico: Maya Goded’s Socially Engaged Documentaries by Dominika Gasiorowski, which will be volume 21 in our Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Cultures series.
It's always good to publish a full-length study of a living and highly active cultural figure. Our bibliographic data currently shows that we have books on 460 major figures: Maya Goded is in a three-way tie for the most recently born, along with the German opera director Jenny Erpenbeck and the French novelist Marie NDiaye. Since Legenda has to cover more or less all of European and Latin American culture since the middle ages, we don't get to contemporary artists as often as we might like. It's also a real luxury, if a little disconcerting, to publish about people we can talk to by email, or indeed social media. We don't get to tweet at Dante to ask him what he meant in Purgatorio XV.
We are very grateful to Maya Goded for giving us permission to use one of her photographs from Terra de brujas (2008) on our cover. (To see it in more detail, click on the thumbnail here to visit the book's page, and then click the cover again to magnify.) As Dominika notes in her book, there is much more to this extraordinary landscape than first meets the eye. Despite a luminous beauty in the quality of the light, our view is also unsettling. We have a house, a form of transport, a farm animal, the sky and in it the moon, all of which we might expect to find in a classical landscape composition. But the house seems very small against the hard-scrabble farmland. Not a place where you can be sentimental and make a living. The pick-up truck is abandoned and on wooden blocks, which can only make us more anxious for the fate of the young white lamb, lonely in a vast slew of gravel, as if she's being washed away by a great grey river. Once it is even noticed, the wire-frame cube of her cage, which is so very small, asks insistent questions. Is she forgotten? How long has she been there? What will happen when the men come back?
This isn't a 'typical' Goded photograph at all, except that it is. Her work is better known as a compelling portraiture of people on the margins of society: people without prominence, people not usually filmed or spoken to. But with her photographs of resting prostitutes, too — their awful situation, their uncomplaining faces — you want to ask: Is she forgotten? How long has she been there? What will happen when the men come back?
Dominika Gasiorowski's study will be published in the autumn, and we are, as I said, very grateful to Maya Goded for her help in making this book a reality.