Whether concealed by a fig leaf or locked by a chastity belt, a woman's erogenous area has traditionally been kept hidden from view. Flouting convention, Manuel Alvarez Bravo staged this scene by clothing the model's upper thighs, hips, and waist, and exposing her pubic region. Although this photograph challenges traditional representations of women, it alludes to confinement through the use of bandages around the model's wrists and ankles. These devices can be interpreted as symbols of bondage and lack of free will.
In this seemingly serene setting, the star cacti lined up beside the slumbering model signal pain and danger. The plants impede the woman's free movement, while at the same time protecting her from the sexual advances of a potential intruder. In naming this photograph The Good Reputation, Sleeping, Alvarez Bravo drew upon the Mexican proverb: Earn a good reputation, then rest on your laurels. (source)
A self-taught photographer, Manuel Alvarez Bravo (1902-2002) purchased his first camera at age twenty while working at a government job. His earliest success at photography came around 1925, when he won first prize in a local photographic competition in Oaxaca. He returned to Mexico City, where he had been born, and in 1927 met Tina Modotti, who introduced him to a lively intellectual and cultural environment of other artists from various disciplines. Among them was Edward Weston, who encouraged Alvarez Bravo to continue photographing; Weston wrote to him in 1929: "Photography is fortunate in having someone with your viewpoint. It is not often I am stimulated to enthusiasm over a group of photographs." (source)