Photographs of the Mexican Revolution: UCR’s Osuna Collection
Madero (in white hat) arriving in Cuernavaca to meet Emiliano Zapata, June 12, 1911.
Madero (in white hat) arriving in Cuernavaca to meet Emiliano Zapata, June 12, 1911.

UC MEXUS is pleased to announce the recent (2012) publication of Mexico at the Hour of Combat: Sabino Osuna's Photographs of the Mexican Revolution, edited by Ronald H. Chilcote, photographer and professor emeritus of economics and political science at UC Riverside. Developed out UCR's Sabino Osuna collection, the book provides striking images of the Mexican Revolution that are unique and largely unknown. The 427 glass-plate and film negatives of the collection were acquired by UCR in 1986 and are housed at the Tomás Rivera Library Special Collections and Archives Department.

Sra. Madero handing out sandwiches to the troops.
Sra. Madero handing out sandwiches to the troops.

Sabino Osuna's skills as a commercial portrait photographer in Mexico City at the advent of the Revolution likely contributed to the artful and poignant composition of the photographs, which appear simultaneously familiar and foreign. Everyday life flows around scenes of war and vice-versa. The images cover primarily the early years of the Revolution, in particular the Decena Trágica, the ten days in February 1913 in which the Madero government was overthrown by Victoriano Huerta, El Usurpador ("The Usurper").

"During the Mexican Revolution, the Valley of Mexico City became the epicenter of political change, the mirror where the nation could look at itself, the drumhead where distant battles resonated in the consciousness of the ruling classes, the place where authorities were ousted or brought into power with giddying speed," comments Exequiel Ezcurra, director of UC MEXUS. "The Sabino Osuna Collection, part of the cultural heritage of the University of California at Riverside, is a powerful testimony of the incidents of the armed struggle in the Valley of Mexico, but, more importantly, it narrates the daily affairs of the different social classes in and around Mexico City. This is what makes this book so powerful; there is an eerie appeal in the images of all these men and women going on about their daily lives while their world was about to change irreversibly."

Chilcote has restored the Osuna images from the UCR archives to provide 103 archival and installation-quality prints in the book, with an eye toward future exhibits in the United States and Mexico. The photographs are placed in context with essays from Chilcote, Eluid Martinez, Tyler Stallings, Carlos Cortés, Georg M. Gugelberger, and Peter Briscoe, including a description of the acquisition of the collection and discussion of issues regarding war photography and photographic piracy that remain relevant today. Restoration of the images and publication of the book was supported by UC MEXUS, the UC Riverside Libraries, the bimonthly journal Latin American Perspectives, Laguna Wilderness Press, the UCR Culver Center for the Arts, and the Sweeney Art Gallery. For information regarding purchasing the book, please consult the publications page of the Laguna Wilderness Press.

People calling for the resignation of President Porfirio Diaz on a Mexico City street after learning of Francisco I. Madero's military victory at Ciudad Juárez on May 24, 1911.
People calling for the resignation of President Porfirio Diaz on a Mexico City street after learning of Francisco I. Madero’s military victory at Ciudad Juárez on May 24, 1911.