“I believe in Art as a means of transcendence and connection. My images are simply what I’ve made from what I have been given. I hope they have done justice to their sources and that they will, for a moment, ‘stay the shadows of contentment too short lived’ (Sor Juana Inés De La Cruz).” —Josephine Sacabo
New Orleans photographer Josephine Sacabo employs an array of photographic techniques to produce dream-like images that often illustrate historical and cultural narratives. Lessons from the Shadows focuses on two of Sacabo’s photography portfolios: Juana and the Structures of Reverie and Óyeme Con Los Ojos.
Juana and the Structures of Reverie consists of more than 40 wet collodion tintypes. Together they tell the tragic story of Juana la Loca (Juana the Mad) who reigned as the Queen of Spain in the 16th-century. Juana’s reign was absolved after being imprisoned for 46 years by her father, husband and son in the Convent of Santa Clara. During her forced confinement, Juana slowly descended into a perpetual state of paranoia, convinced that the nuns of the convent were plotting her death. Her paranoia often prevented her from eating, sleeping and bathing. Sacabo’s stunning tintypes illustrate the gradual decline of Juana la Loca and explore an imaginary world created by the imprisoned queen.
Óyeme Con Los Ojos consists of nearly 50 photogravures that recount the life of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the 17th-century Mexican nun who is still revered as one of the country’s greatest poets and intellectuals. Sadly, Sor Juana was victim to her time, her gender and her faith. After being imprisoned for over 20 years, Sor Juana was silenced by the Inquisition, her only sin being an inquisitive, creative and intelligent woman. Sacabo created this portfolio with hopes to break Sor Juana’s silence and once again expose one of history’s most influential yet overlooked intellectuals.
During her 36 year career, Sacabo’s work has been featured in over 40 gallery and museum exhibitions in the U.S., Europe and Mexico. She has been the recipient of multiple awards and is included in the permanent collections at the George Eastman House, the International Center of Photography, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and la Bibliothéque Nationale in Paris.