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Archive History Nonfiction Photography Theory

Unconcealable Realities of Desire: Amelio Robles’s (Transgender) Masculinity in the Mexican Revolution

By Gabriela Cano, 2006

One can almost see it: a smile of satisfaction spreading across Amelio Robles’s face as he looks at the studio portrait in which he poses like a dandy: dark suit, white shirt, tie, wide-brimmed black hat, leather shoes, and a white handkerchief peeking out of the breast pocket.¹ Standing with a cigarette in one hand and the other placed prominently over his revolver as if to draw attention to the weapon holstered in his belt. The formal elements of the photograph—composition, even lighting, ambience and, above all, the contained and serene pose of the subject at the center of the scenery—largely conform to studio portrait conventions in which those who were photographed wore their finest outfits and posed with decorum. The photo was taken around 1915 in one of many photographic studios that flourished in cities and towns across the nation during the first decades of the twentieth century, when technological simplification and falling costs made it possible to satisfy the growing demand for portraits.

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