Beyond the Mask: Journey Through 1980s Mexico • Abbas • Magnum Photos

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Beyond the Mask: Journey Through 1980s Mexico

Abbas took over nine trips to Mexico during the 1980s to capture a cultural landscape torn between ancient traditions and contemporary society

Abbas

Abbas | Beyond the Mask Boy wears a mask made of cardboard. Village of San Augustin de Oapan, State of Guerrero, Mexico. 1984. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask A sugar cane cutter holds her machete. State of Morelos, Mexico. 1984. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask A man drags a reluctant pig in midday. Village of San Augustin de Oapan, State of Guerrero, Mexico.1983. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask Boxers train in a gym set in a courtyard. Monclova, State of Coahuila, Mexico. 1983. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask Man under a table in the desert. Village of San Augustin de Oapan, State of Guerrero, Mexico. 1984. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask Men carrying TV down street with dog. Mexico city, Mexico. 1983. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask Children bath and play in the Rio Balsas. Village of San Augustin de Oapan, State of Guerrero, Mexico. 1985. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask A drunkard sleeps under the statue of Jose Antonio Torres, hero of the independence. Town of Guadalajara, State of Jalisco, Mexico. 1983. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask Oil refinery. Town of Minatitlan, Mexico. 1983. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask Track race. City of San Miguel Allende, Mexico. 1983. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Beyond the Mask Inside the Catholic church, young "pastorella" girls dance an Aztec ritual to the tune of a violin. Village of San Augustin de Oapan, State of Guerrero, Mexico. 1985. © | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask Upper class wedding party. Town of Tepotzotlan, Mexico.1984. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask A little girl holds skulls over her eyes. Skulls are part of the ritual of the Day of the Dead. Mexico City, Mexico. November 1, 1984. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask Family mourns a boy killed in an accident. Town of Creel, State of Chihuahua, Mexico, 1985. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask Wedding procession with a music band and villagers carrying gifts. Village of San Augustin de Oapan, State of Guerrero, Mexico. 1983. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask Sainte Helene district. Illegal linking of the electrical communication. Mexico city, Mexico. 1983. © Abbas | Magnum Photos
Abbas | Beyond the Mask A woman in a dust storm, a walking tree. Village of San Augustin de Oapan, State of Guerrero, Mexico. 1985. © Abbas | Magnum Photos

The result of nine trips over a period of three years, Return to Mexico is a memorable document of a passionate adventure which reveals the contrast between an ancient country and the objects and things that proclaim the modernity of those who possess them. In Mexico – a country that was brutally conquered and then learned to mask its own culture – Abbas traveled, photographing the country as if writing a novel, and keeping a journal as if taking snapshots.

Through both his photographs and excerpts from his personal daily journal, Abbas poignantly conveys the effect of Mexico’s transition into a modern state, and also suggests the causes in their historical perspective. The images were published in a book with an eloquent introduction by Carlos Fuentes, which provides great insight into the understanding and appreciation of Abbas’s photographs.