Yael Martínez
Yael Martínez

Through narrow, winding, and treacherous mountain terrain, ancestral communities in Guerrero, Mexico travel on foot for 50 kilometers, or about 31 miles, to reach their sites of ritual. Once there, they perform rain rites, processions, dances, animal sacrifice, and other indigenous spiritual practices of gratitude to the earth to ensure good harvests and full rivers, and to protect against water scarcity and the ravages of heat.

More than performance, these rituals represent a philosophy of life that holds in balance the wind, the sun, and the rain. From the moment of creation, there has been a reciprocal relationship between the earth—generator of life—and the meteorological phenomena associated with the agricultural cycle. These phenomena are thought of not only in their natural forms as winds, clouds, rays, springs, and rivers, but also as forces inhabited by spiritual beings with whom it is possible to establish a ritual relationship. Believers receive life-sustaining material and spiritual goods from them through dreams, invocations, prayers, and offerings.

“The Blood and the Rain” is a multimedia collaboration by photographer Yael Martínez and graphic artist Orlando Velázquez, who have been welcomed by the Nahua communities to observe their practices. Because the rituals themselves are not allowed to be photographed, Yael and Orlando sought a way to document and honor the community’s cultural expressions without exposing or violating them. Combining photography with drawing, Yael and Orlando have generated a new visual form that portrays the physical and metaphysical layers of the rituals and the relationships that exists between the people, their gods, and nature.

This project is made possible by The Henry Luce Foundation and is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Artist Bios

  • Yael Martínez

    Yael Martínez explores the connections between poverty and organized crime in his community of Guerrero in southern Mexico. He often works symbolically to evoke a sense of emptiness, absence, and pain suffered by those affected by drug trafficking in the region. Martínez is a grantee of the Magnum Foundation, and was named one of PDN’s “30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch” in 2017. In 2015 he was selected for the Joop Swart Master Class of Latin America; he was a finalist for the Eugene Smith memorial grant in 2015 and 2016; and he was nominated for the Paul Huf Award, the Prix Pictet, and the ICP Infinity Awards.

  • Orlando Velásquez

    Orlando Velásquez is is an award-winning graphic artist and illustrator from Guerrero, Mexico whose work explores concepts of the sacred and the profane through the lens of Guerrero’s current state of violence and death. A graduate of the Visual Arts Center in Morelos, his work has been exhibited at Fonca, the National Fund for Culture and Arts, and the Institute of Graphic Arts of Oaxaca.


  • Magnum Foundation

    Magnum Foundation

    Magnum Foundation expands creativity and diversity in visual storytelling, activating new audiences and ideas through the innovative use of images. Through grant making, mentorship, and creative collaborations, we partner with socially-engaged imagemakers exploring new models for storytelling.

    This program was produced with the support of Magnum Foundation’s Counter Histories initiative supporting projects that creatively reframe the past to engage with urgent questions of the present and future.

The Blood and the Rain

 archive : 2017

Featuring: Yael Martínez Orlando Velásquez

Presented by:

  • Magnum Foundation


View Location Details Download a detailed map of this location Brooklyn Bridge Park – Emily Warren Roebling Plaza

1 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Number 1 on the official photoville map Click to download this year's map

This location is part of Brooklyn Bridge Park
Explore other locations and exhibitions nearby

This website was made possible thanks to the generous support and partnership of Photowings