Espectacular de lucha libre

Fotografias de Lourdes Grobet

reviewed by Martin Hoyem

Blue Demon ante si mismo (Blue Demon against himself)
  Photo: Lourdes Grobet

Blue Demon ante si mismo

(Blue Demon against himself)

Espectacular de Lucha Libre: Fotografias de Lourdes Grobet

Espectacular de Lucha Libre: Fotografias de Lourdes Grobet

Lourdes Grobet (Photographer),
Carlos Monsivais (Author),
Alfonso Morales (Editor),
Carlos Rodriguez (Contributor)

Trilce 2008
296 pages
11 x 8.5 x 1.1 inches

I love lucha libre cinema. I love it when Santo and Blue Demon team up to fight Dracula’s daughter or invaders from Mars (mind you, in this world the two can be the same – Dracula’s daughter might well turn out to be an invader from Mars). And I love it when the two luchadores, dressed in their funky 1970’s suits, sit down with their girlfriends to eat cake and drink coffee in a fancy restaurant, and they’re still wearing their masks. And I love how the movies are interspersed with wrestling matches, like dancing sequences in Bollywood blockbusters. So, not surprisingly, I also love Lourdes Grobet’s photos. But while Grobet has worked on the film sets of some of these movies and photographed Santo in between shoots – when the star grabs a taco or an ice cream – Espectacular de Lucha Libre: Fotografias de Lourdes Grobet (Trilce) shows that lucha libre is much more than the secret agent sci-fi monster super hero universe of the films: Grobet’s book takes as its subject the full world of Mexican wrestling.

Santo con helado (Santo with ice cream)

Santo con helado

(Santo with ice cream)

Photo: Lourdes Grobet

Espec­tacu­lar de Lucha Libre is pack­ed with images Grobet has taken of lucha­dores and lucha­doras, and the world sur­round­ing them, over a per­iod of close to 30 years. Here are the arenas, the prom­oters, the vendors, and the fans. And, of cour­se, the wrest­lers – as they pre­pare for their match­es, leave home, ar­rive at the arena, sign auto­graphs, and … well, wrestle. There are posed studio por­traits and candid shots in the wrest­ler’s homes. (As she seeks to re­flect lucha libre in the Mexi­can cul­tural-po­li­ti­cal hist­ory, Grobet also photo­graphs a pre­hi­spanic stone head from Cho­lula, and Te­cuan­es from Zit­lala – dres­sed akin to lucha­dores they pre­pare for their ri­tual com­bat where they ask for a good rainy season. “In Mexi­co,” Grobet once pointed out, “po­li­tics and cul­ture, rites and sur­vival are con­densed in the sym­bol of the mask.”)

Through hundreds and hundreds of photos on 296 beautiful pages, Grobet’s work makes for a thick visual description of the Mexican wrestling scene. I find myself going back to this book, again and again, to engulf myself in the life steaming from its pages. It’s good stuff.

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