On the Cover: Aperture’s “Mexico City” Issue
Ghost-like hands reach out from a dark background and create the outline of an invisible camera in Iñaki Bonillas’s Adiós fotografía (Bye bye photography), the cover of Aperture’s fall 2019 issue, “Mexico City,” the fourth in a series of city-focused issues, following São Paulo, Tokyo, and Los Angeles. The staging of this mysterious photograph echoes the relationship between artist and subject. “Here I asked an actress to portray, with her hands only, a photographer in action,” says Bonillas, in an interview with Iván Ruiz for Aperture. “What we see is nothing but the gestures of the hands while taking a picture and the voids that form around those hands where a camera no longer is used—yet it is somehow still there.”
As a young photographer, Bonillas worked for his uncle, the photographer Carlos Somonte, as the assistant to Somonte’s assistant. In that role, he was responsible for preparing every step in the photographic process, aside from actually taking the photograph itself. “This limit allowed me to begin to work in the margins of the notion of the photographic, and to become more interested in the extra-photographic aspects of the medium,” Bonillas recalls. That early education guides the defining works of Bonillas’s career, from the phantom camera in Adiós fotografía to his inventive reworking of the photographic archive he inherited from his grandfather, who moonlighted as a conceptual artist while working as an aluminum salesman.
Bonillas describes himself as an “attic photographer,” adding, “I spend a lot of time looking for traces of images that are hidden somewhere.” Aperture’s “Mexico City” issue is full of photographer-detectives like Bonillas—artists who reconsider the past to tell new narratives, from the personal to the collective. Throughout the issue, artists like Graciela Iturbide, Gabriel Orozco, Miguel Calderón, Jesús León, Pablo Ortíz Monasterio, and Tania Franco Klein, and writers and curators Chloe Aridjis, Álvaro Enrigue, Kit Hammonds, and Sarah Hermanson Meister examine the diversity of Mexico City and its vibrant cultural scenes, reflecting on the ways Mexican photographers are pushing new visions for the medium.