press release

During this summer, Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, presents the exhibition Rich and Famous by the Mexican photographer Daniela Rossell. In her surprising colour photographs she turns her ethnographic gaze on the stylistic taste and whole way of life of the Mexican upper class. The social photography is turned upside down, and focus is on the conspicuous consumption and economic power of this affluent minority in Mexican society.
Daniela Rossell (born 1973) works with a grotesque staging which provides the setting for a series of cultural studies of affluence and the psycho-social identity of being famous. She records and examines an extravagant way of life which contrasts sharply with that of the large majority of the impoverished Mexican population. Rossell’s photographs thus suggest culture-historical themes and point to a social criticism.

Daniela Rossell’s portraits are primarily of women, presented in various overwhelming scenarios; often these are very young women on the threshold of adult life, preoccupied with their own identity and with staging themselves. Daniela Rossell herself comes from the very upper class which her photographs describe, and some of the people portrayed are family and friends. By virtue of her familiarity with this milieu, Rossell has obtained a level of trust and intimacy with her subjects which is visible in the personal, bold and not least revealing expression of her photographs.

With her oblique camera angles, seductive mirror reflections and intense choice of colour Daniela Rossell establishes a relationship between her subjects and their milieu, a relationship which at one and the same time contains irony, humour, intimacy and criticism. And yet these photographs are far from being judgmental. They illustrate the photographer’s sympathy with the people she portrays; but all the while she remains conscious of the artificially constructed existence of which these self-proclaimed princesses and odalisques are a part.

One of Rossell’s sources of inspiration is the Mexican photographer Álvarez Bravo which can be seen, for instance, in the baroque and surreal expression of her photographs. Her subjects are fixed in a distorted reality of vulgar materialism and almost come across as phantoms, sequestered from the rest of the world. Moral and political aspects are thus present in the way these photographs revolve around affluence, power and consumption, and in this her works become relevant not only to Mexican culture but also come to constitute a critical commentary on the materialism of the Western world at large.

Rich and Famous has previously been shown, among other places, at the Greene Naftali Gallery in New York, at the Galeria OMR in Mexico City and at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.

The exhibition has been created in co-operation with the Greene Naftali Gallery in New York.


only in german

Daniela Rossell - Rich and Famous / Ricas y Famosas