Published by Aperture. Introduction by Pablo Helguera.
Over the past six years, Stefan Ruiz (born 1966) has gained special access to Mexico’s Televisa studios, known as “The Factory of Dreams,” where nearly 50,000 hours-worth of telenovelas (soap operas) are produced and exported annually to more than 100 countries. These intriguing tales of revenge, love, money and despair are one of Mexico’s largest exports, popular throughout Latin America as well as in Africa, Asia and Europe. Former Televisa stars turned Hollywood favorites include Salma Hayek and Gael García Bernal. Rogelio Guerra, who starred in Los Ricos También Lloran (The Rich Also Cry)--a show whose finale was watched by 70 percent of the population of Russia--once delivered the Russian New Year’s presidential address when Boris Yeltsin fell ill. Stefan Ruiz’s photographs of the factory and its people reveal a behind-the-scenes look at this special place with humor and affection. Ruiz’s photographs reveal a secret world of elaborate and surreal studio sets, and include portraits of the television stars in character and students being groomed for future celebrity at the Televisa “soap school.” This is the world of beautiful women, handsome men and rags-to-riches Cinderella stories, which reveal the underlying fantasies of social aspiration, as well as entrenched racial hierarchies. Accompanying Ruiz’s pictures are informative texts, plot summaries and bits of dialogue that illuminate both the factory and the dreams behind this fascinating cultural phenomenon.
Published by Chris Boot. Introduction by Chris Boot.
In photographer Stefan Ruiz's San Francisco Berlin series, large-format portraits depict gay men dressed up for fetish-themed events in two cities that have played pivotal roles in defining gay male aesthetics. Shot in an improvised street studio, Ruiz's pictures are documentary in feel, their subjects captured against blank backgrounds, leveling steady, implacable gazes at the viewer. Some pictures fulfill expectations of fetish sexuality, as in the shot of a dour-faced, tattooed man who is nude except for a thick metal chain sashing his torso and a black leather strap fastened around his genitals. Other subjects' accoutrements are more playful--sleek black leather wrist cuffs abound, and one man sports a Batman face mask, complete with bat ears. With texts drawn from interviews with some of the subjects, and an introduction by Chris Boot (who curated the "Gay Men Play" exhibition for the New York Photo Festival in 2009), San Francisco Berlin is both a document of extreme fashion and a serious consideration of contemporary gay sexual identity.
Stefan Ruiz's portfolio of portraits and social landscapes, photographed over the last five years, reveals a striking vision of the fragility of the "family of man." With photographs of his own family, Mexican soap opera stars, Cuban mental asylum patients, Texan cowgirls and Rwandan refugees, as well as portraits of celebrities such as Liza Minelli and James Brown, this photo essay establishes Ruiz as a key contemporary image maker.