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Princesses in a land of Machos | Photographer: Nicola Ókin Frioli

Princesses in  a land of Machos | Photographer: Nicola Ókin Frioli | PHOTOGRAPHERS | Scoop.it

Before Spanish colonization blanketed Mexico with Catholicism, there were cross-dressing Aztec priests and hermaphrodite Mayan gods; gender flexibility was inherent in the culture. In much of the country now, machismo prevails and attitudes toward sex remain relatively narrow. But things are different in the southern state of Oaxaca where more pliant thinking remains. In the Zapotec communities around the town of Juchitán, men who consider themselves women—called “muxes”—are not only accepted, but celebrated as symbols of good luck.

 

Mexico City-based photographer Nicola “Ókin” Frioli traveled to Juchitán to photograph muxes for the series, We Are Princesses in a Land of Machos. His photos capture just some of the estimated 3,000 muxes in the area, which has a total population of around 160,000. The muxes traditionally adopt female roles like cooking, embroidery, sewing, and preparing for celebrations. They are seen as having special intellectual and artistic gifts.

Local lore has it that the muxes fell from the torn pocket of San Vicente Ferrer, the patron saint of Juchitán, during his holy walk over the town. Which is to say, they are the lucky, chosen people; colonizing the ephemeral state between genders, and bringing good fortune to a culture already blessed with open minds and good will.

 

Photo report's insight:


Nicola Okin Frioli's Official Photography website; Fine Art, Portraiture, Advertising, Fashion and Reportage Photography, Biography, Exhibitions. Okin is currently based in Mexico City.

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Jimadores | Photographer: Rene Cervantes

Jimadores | Photographer: Rene Cervantes | PHOTOGRAPHERS | Scoop.it

I went to the agave fields to shoot the jimadores on their schedule and under their terms. Every situation was different but everyone was kind and respectful, though doubtful at times.

 

There was one occasion I ended up meeting some illegitimate jimadores and they took me to an illegal distillery. I spent four days trying to shoot at the distillery (which the person in charge said I could do) but every time we were invited to come, somehow the place was deserted and on lockdown. It was a bit frustrating but it was obvious to us why they wouldn’t want to be photographed. The curious part of it all was that we were never told not to come back.

 

My homebase for the trip was Guadalajara which is only a 45 minute drive from the agave fields. Before going there I had no contacts at all. I speak the language and took a big gamble on doing it this way. I didn’t want to be shown what every tourist is shown. Any time you do something like this it is easy to find local people to help you and make your work easier, but most likely they will point you to what they think you should be looking at (or what every tourist wants to see) and not to what you are searching for.—Rene Cervantes

Photo report's insight:

Photographer Rene Cervantes explores Mexico’s agave harvesting fields in his recent project, Jimadores. He grew up on the Texas/Mexico border in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez and spent his teenage years and early 20’s playing in bands before leaving to California to study photography at the Brooks Institute. He is now based in New York.

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