New Book: ‘Photographing the Unseen Mexico’ by Dominika Gasiorowski

By Maria Montt Strabucchi • blog, news • 24 Sep 2018


This autumn, my first book entitled Photographing the Unseen Mexico: Maya Goded’s Socially Engaged Documentaries will be published by the Modern Humanities Research Association imprint Legenda ( Based on nearly a decade of research, which included my PhD supervised by Prof Parvati Nair and funded by the Westfield Trust Research Studentship, the book establishes Maya Goded as one of the leading lights in Latin American photography.


Self-portrait. Maya Goded©


Born in Mexico City in 1967, Maya Goded ( is an acclaimed photographer and documentary filmmaker. Throughout her career as a visual artist, she has maintained a focus on working with hidden and invisible communities and phenomena, most often documenting the lives of women. Among her subjects are Afro-descendant communities in Mexico, as well as prostitutes/sexworkers, women practicing witchcraft and traditional healing methods, and families bereaved through the epidemic of feminicides. In a country where visual culture is synonymous with national culture, Goded’s work shows the omissions and gaps in contemporary visual landscapes.


Photograph from Plaza de la soledad (2006). Maya Goded©


My encounter with Goded’s imagery and the subsequent research into her practice informed my thinking on visibility and representation as functions of power, mediated through photography. Within the book, I used the concepts of subalternity and hegemony as an axis for examining the work done by controversial images, where their subjects had been hitherto excluded from the arena of socio-cultural or political representation. I wrote the book with the sense of responsibility not only towards Goded as a photographer, but also towards her marginalised subjects. In my role as a cog in the Western academic machine, writing in the current lingua franca with all its colonial and neo-imperialistic implications, I searched for ways in which academic discourse could account for its own omissions. I investigated ways to connect the blind spots of epistemology with gaps in our shared horizons of vision. Making links between what is seen and what is known allowed me to find new ways of thinking through the power of photography and representation, examining how Goded’s work resonates with Mexican realities and wider epistemic trends and their exclusions. In that sense, I hope that my inquiry captures some of the zeitgeist of our time, with more people vocally opposing the persistent silencing of women’s voices and stories.


Maya Goded and Dominika Gasiorowski in 2013, Mexico City. Stella Corradi©


Nearly a decade on, I still find Goded’s images and films very compelling and I will always be grateful for the generosity and openness with which she welcomed my interest in her work. The book also marks an important chapter in my personal life, since my two children were born while I was working on it, with motherhood leading to breaks and reflections that would not have happened otherwise. The work, while often challenging, also brought my way a wealth of new personal and intellectual connections and inspirations. I hope it will become part of the growing debate on how we understand and use photography in our hyper-connected and hyper-visual world.


Dominika Gasiorowski

Associate Lecturer in Hispanic Studies

Queen Mary University of London

Twitter: @Gakinimod


Recent publications:

‘The muxes of Juchitán: Representations of Non-binary Gender Identities in Contemporary Photography from Mexico’ in Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 95(8), 2018, 895-914

‘Bodies that Do Not Matter: Marginality in Maya Goded’s Photographs of Sex Workers in Mexico City’ in Journal of Latin American Studies Special Issue: Visual Culture and Violence in Contemporary Mexico 24(4), 2015, 501-515


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