The Factory of Dreams:
Inside Televisa StudiosPhotographs by Stefan Ruiz
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For the past eight years, Stefan Ruiz has gained special access to Mexico’s Televisa studios, known as “The Factory of Dreams,” where nearly fifty thousand hours worth oftelenovelas (soap operas) are produced and exported annually to more than fifty countries. These intriguing tales of revenge, love, money, and despair are one of Mexico’s largest exports, popular throughout Latin America as well as in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Former Televisa stars turned Hollywood favorites include Salma Hayek, Diego Luna, and Gael García Bernal. Rogelio Guerra, who starred in Los Ricos También Lloran (The Rich Also Cry)—a show whose finale was watched by 70 percent of the population of Russia—once delivered the Russian New Year’s presidential address when Boris Yeltsin fell ill.
Stefan Ruiz’s photographs of the factory and its people offer a behind-the-scenes look at this special place with humor and affection. Ruiz’s photographs uncover a secret world of elaborate and surreal studio sets, and include portraits of the television stars in character and students being groomed for future celebrity at the Televisa “soap school.” This is the world of beautiful women, handsome men, and rags-to-riches Cinderella stories, which reveal the underlying fantasies of social aspiration, as well as entrenched racial hierarchies.
Accompanying Ruiz’s pictures are informative texts, sample plot synopses, and character descriptions that illuminate both the factory and the dreams behind this fascinating cultural phenomenon.
Stefan Ruiz (born in San Francisco, 1966) studied painting and sculpture at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Accademia di Belle Arti, Venice. He taught art at San Quentin State Prison and began working as a photographer in 1994. His photographs have appeared in magazines around the world, including COLORS (for which he was creative director, 2003–4), New York Times Magazine,Telegraph Magazine, and Rolling Stone. His work has been published in two monographs, San Francisco Berlin (2011) and People (2006), and exhibited at Les Rencontres d’Arles, France; Photographers’ Gallery, London; PhotoEspaña, Madrid; New York Photo Festival; Havana Biennial; and Contact Photography Festival, Toronto. He lives in New York.
Pablo Helguera (introduction) is a visual and performance artist whose work incorporates pedagogy, social engagement, historical research, and language. His projectInstituto de la Telenovela (Soap Opera Institute, 2002–4) explored the global impact of Latin American telenovelas. He has authored numerous books and has received many awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship and the first International Award for Participatory Art. Since 2007, he has served as director.
“Where Telenovas Come to Life,” The SpeakEasy Blog, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Horne, May 24, 2012
“Mexico: The Factory of Dreams,” La Lettre de la Photographie, Pablo Helguera, June 2012
“The Factory of Dreams,” Cool Hunting, Perrin Drumm, June 4, 2012
“NewsWeek Tumblr Blog, June 10, 2012
“In the Factory of Dreams: Behind the Scenes on Telenovas,” Time LightBox Interview and Gallery, Elizabeth Dias, June 19, 2012
“mexicaans exportproduct: drama,” Winq Magazine, June 22, 2012
“Soap Mex,” Financial Times, June 29, 2012
“Telenova: The Factory of Dreams,” ABC News Digital-Picture This, Judith Perez, July 13, 2012
“A Decade of Mexican Soap Opera Stars Photographed by Stefan Ruiz,” Design Boom, August 1, 2012
“Photos From the Sets of Latin American Soap Operas,” NPR Picture Show, Jasmine Garsd, September 21, 2012
"Stefan Ruiz's 'The Factory of Dreams' goes behind telenovela scene," Liesl Bradner, LA Times, October 7, 2012.
"Manufactured Dreams – Stepping Inside Televisa," Alissa Guzman, Hyperallergic, February 26, 2013