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Stefan Ruiz: Factory of Dreams

Introduction by Pablo Helguera.

Stefan Ruiz: Factory of DreamsOver 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.

Featured image, of Yadhira Carillo as Leonora "Nora" Guzman Madrigal de Orta de Palacios-Garcia in Amarte es mi Pecado (Loving You Is My Sin) in 2003, is reproduced from Stefan Ruiz: Factory of Dreams.


Wall Street Journal

Rebecca Horne

Welcome to the world of the telenovela, where love is found, lost, and found again. In the new book “Factory of Dreams,” from Aperture, photographer Stefan Ruiz takes his camera behind the scenes at Televisa Studios (Televisa is the largest Spanish-language broadcaster in the world) in Mexico City and introduces us to actors and actresses, giving us a close-up view of the meticulous sets, costumes and lighting that create cross-sections of Mexican society.

W Magazine

Maura Egan

In his book 'The Factory of Dreams,' photographer Stefan Ruiz goes inside the Mexico City television studio where many of the country's cultishly popular telenovelas are filmed. Since 2003, Ruiz has spent time on set, documenting the classic archetypes--young lovers, the kindly partiarch, the long-suffering maid--and the actors who have populated such sappy soap operas as 'Loving You Is My Sin' and 'The Rich Also Cry.' While the shows' devout fans have a hard time parsing fact from fiction, Ruiz deftly expands the frame to give us a crew's-eye view of the proceedings: gaffers' ladders lean against half-built sets, a chandelier hangs amid production lights, actors loll about between takes. Such workaday details, Ruiz implies, are the stuff these dreams are built on.


Passion Project: Stefan Ruiz has spent years of photographing Televisa Studios, where many Mexican telenovelas, or soap operas, are filmed. (Telenovelas air in over 50 countries worldwide.) His book, The Factory of Dreams, offers an intimate glimpse of that world.


Carolina A. Miranda

The New York-based photographer returned regularly to Televisa to capture the surreal life behind one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world. Using a large-format camera, he staged portraits of dramatically posed actors in fake living rooms and doctors' offices, with tangles of stage lights just overhead. He recorded the often hyperreal decor of the sets, including a replica of Michelangelo's David standing before a textured fuchsia wall. And he photographed the studio's acting school, where budding soap stars are taught how to kiss for TV. Ninety of these images have now been compiled in the book The Factory of Dreams: Inside Televisa Studios, published by Aperture. For Ruiz, the series was an opportunity to explore an important aspect of popular culture in a critical yet dignified way.

Stefan Ruiz: Factory of Dreams

"This project started while I was creative director of COLORS magazine at Benetton's Fabrica in Treviso, Italy… With COLORS, I had photographed in refugee camps in Tanzania, a mental hospital in Cuba, slums in Latin America, and modern slavery in India. Outside of COLORS, I had done a lot of editorial work, which included photographing celebrities. Although the aesthetics of telenovelas were not really the same as my own, and I didn't watch them (except sometimes at the Laundromat), the more I thought about it, the more telenovelas seemed like a great vehicle through which to explore many of my interests, and also some of my own history.
With the actors, sets, and lighting, we could look at issues of race, class, and beauty through a very different aesthetic than the more traditional documentary portraiture we were using in COLORS at the time. I wanted to make formal, almost painterly portraits of the actors, dressed in character and on set. There was a wide range of actors. I was interested in the various types, and in how the definitions of beauty and class are often defined by race. Generally, thee stars look European. The maids do not. And the villains vary."

Stefan Ruiz, excerpted from Factory of Dreams.


Stefan Ruiz: San Francisco Berlin


Chris Boot

ISBN: 9781905712199
USD $60.00
| CAN $79

Pub Date: 9/30/2011
Active | Out of stock