UNTITLED (JANITA HAREM ROOM, VILLA ARABESQUE, ACAPULCO, MEXICO)
Daniela Rossell (born 1973) is a Mexican painter and photographer. Ricas y Famosas is one of her most famous photography series. Created between 1998 and 2002 and published in 2009, the series features mostly women from Mexico’s most privileged class posing in opulent rooms. Rossell is the daughter of a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party and was raised within this elite class—the women portrayed are her friends and relatives. In the opening of her book, Rossell writes, “The images depict actual settings. The photographic subjects are representing themselves. Any resemblance to real world events is not coincidental.”1[KS1] The use of these phrases, adapted from the disclaimers that frequently accompany works of fiction, further blurs the line between fiction and reality presented in these images. In Untitled (Janita Harem Room, Villa Arabesque, Acapulco, Mexico) (2001), Rossell draws attention to the process of gender performance via the act of applying makeup, doing hair, and dressing up. The painting behind the reclining woman (whose pose has been discussed at length throughout this site) collapses the line between a fictitious Orientalist vision and the reality of the lavish and ostentatious lifestyle lived by a very small percentage of Mexico’s population. This series has faced heavy backlash from the Mexican public, as 10% of the Mexican population controls 40% of the nation’s wealth, while 53.7% live in poverty. Rossell has received threats because of the series’ allusion to a corrupt political situation.
Daniela Rossell, Mexican, born 1973
Untitled (Janita Harem Room, Villa Arabesque, Acapulco, Mexico) from the series Ricas y Famosas,
30 x 40 in.
Purchased through gifts from Charles W. Gaillard, Class of 1962, Kenneth I. Reich, Class of 1960, James and Susan Wright, Lee and Marguerite Berlin, Karen Berlin, Class of 1989, Elizabeth E. Craig, Class of 1944W, Jan Seidler Ramirez, Class of 1973, and the Class of 1952. Selected by participants in the seminar "Museum Collecting 101": Sarah Bohlman, Class of 2004, Jeffrey Cooperman, Class of 2006, Joanne Kim, Class of 2005, Amy Kurtz, Class of 2006, Sarah Murray, Class of 2004, Rolaine Ossman, Class of 2004, Arielle Ring, Class of 2007, Catherine Roberts, Class of 2005, Emily Salas, Class of 2006, Liz Seru, Class of 2004, Eleanor Smith, Class of 2004, Miell Y. Yi, Class of 2002; PH.2004.18
© Daniela Rossell, courtesy of Greene Naftali Gallery, New York