101 Tragedies brings together a collection of photographs and narratives by the Mexican photographer Enrique Metinides, who makes his own selection of images and tells his own stories. Metinides remembers everything; the streets, the characters, the families, the sadness, as much as the heroism of the emergency workers and the ‘audience’ of onlookers relieved to be watching, not participating in the dramas he cap- tures. Metinides catalogues his images according to type: train, bicycle, car or bus accident / plane crash / suicide / murder / hanging / drowning— everything is meticulously filed, stored, recorded. He creates order from the madness of the witnessed chaos he has photographed. Metinides’ work is unique and stands apart from contemporary tabloid drama photography, Nota Roja, which still sells on the streets of Mexico City. His images are distinct from the new sensationalism; his photographs, while powerful, are often filled with their own humanity, with their sense of detail and their awareness of both accident and cultural context. His work is cinematic at times and intimate at others, and his photographs present themselves as short narratives—single frame movies, so to speak. As a child Metinides loved to go to the cinema and shoot stills from the screen, and their influence is evident in his photography. His home is filled with a DVD collection that ranges from Cagney to contemporary car chase spectaculars. Metinides is a film maker of stills. Metinides has worked in Mexico City all his life—rarely leaving the city, never leaving the country; yet he has probably seen more than most. Now retired from the streets, he has begun a new series of works that revisit the scenes he once witnessed and documented. He creates hybrid images by bringing into the frame the toys of his massive collection of miniature firemen, police and ambulance workers against the backdrop of his original images like a stage set of earlier work. In this way he creates new works that hover on the edge of child-like innocence, horror and the absurd. Metinides does not belong in the tabloid world of this millennium; his work has little to do with the formulaic sensationalism of the present or with the narcotics drama which represents contemporary Mexico in the media. His work is unique, guided by his own reflections of a lifetime’s work. 101 Tragedies is a series of single frame films. Narrated by Metinides. Told through his stills and his words.
Trisha Ziff, co-curator of the exhibition, with Enrique Metinides.
Prints by LMI, Mexico and Dupon, Paris.
Framing by Jean-Pierre Gapihan, Paris.
Exhibition venue: Atelier des Forges, Parc des Ateliers.