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LUNA CORNEA Número 11

1999

$50

ISSN 0111-1005


Martin de Voos. San Jorge y el dragón. Díptico del siglo XVI. Óleo sobre madera. Colección: Museo Soumaya.


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Ho ku sai. Un viento fuerte en Yeijiri, ca. 1831-1833. Del libro l eff Wall. London: Phaidon, 1996.

jeff Wa ll . Una repentina rĂĄfaga de viento (a la manera de Hokusai), 1993. CortesĂ­a del artista.


Vanessa Beecroft. Show, 1998. Performance en el Museo Guggenheim de Nueva York .

11. Los maniquíes en la galería. La acción y el performance han renovado, de manera consciente o involuntaria, la estética del tableau vivant. El artista Kounellis introdujo, en 1969, doce caballos vivos en una galería romana, representando a todos los corceles que h an aparecido a través de la historia del arte -desde aquellos que vigilan la Basílica de San Marcos en Venecia h asta los que habitan los cuadros de Gericault. Al año siguiente, los ingleses Gilbert y George posaron en traje de carácter y con la cara pintada en una ga lería. Vanessa Beecroft presentó, en 1998, una pieza en la que maniquíes vivientes, vestidos con bikinis negros y tacones altos, permanecieron inmóviles durante más de diez horas en el Museo Guggenheim de Nueva York. En los tres casos, se utilizó -la cámara como testigo de calidad . La documentación fotográfica les ha permitido al performance y a la acción - efímeros por naturaleza- la posibilidad de fijarse en un objeto artístico. Los galeristas y los coleccionistas han hecho que esos registros, fotográficos o videográficos, se conviertan en obras independientes y comercializables.

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José Salomé Pina. Sansón y Dalila, 1851. Óleo so bre tela . Colección: Museo Nacional de Arte. Archivo Javier Hinojosa.

Miguel Calderón. Empleado del mes #3 (a parti( de Sansón y Dalila de José Salomé Pina), 1998. Cortesía: Andrea Rosen Gallery, Nueva York.


SORDERA (DEAFNESS), 1998 Fernando Ortega

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Al ini cio del n uevo siglo cund e n los rem ed os de El Cóm ico; pub li cacio n es li geras y humorísti cas co m o Fri volidades, de Ma nuel La rrañaga y Portuga l y La IVsa diri gida po r José F. Eli zo n do. En esta ú ltim a a pa rece n hi sto ri etas fo tog ráficas leve me nte sica lípti cas co n puesta en página modern style. La sá tira po lítica y el humo r bl an co o co lo rado eran propios de la "pren sa chi ca", los se man a ri os de ta maño tabloide, com o El M undo Ilustrado, eran m enos dados a la comi cidad y po r ello a la n arrati va fotográfi ca de fi cción . Sin emba rgo, en este últim o se publi ca ro n histori etas gráficas de im po rtación / 9 un a fo to hi stori eta mud a titul ada En el pecado ... 20 y rea lizada po r Arriaga, y otras va riantes de la foton arrativa, como el reporta je de Lan ge a la cant a nt e it a li a n a Rosa lí a C h a lí a, 21 qu e co n st a d e nu eve fo t os sec u e nci ad as y con ap oyaturas e n itali a n o qu e sinte ti za n la hi sto ri a d e Fedora , ó pe ra d e Gi o rd a no; o la fotohi storia did ácti ca en doce to mas que nos enseñ a a hace r un corpiñ o." En A rte y Letras, R. Peón del Va ll e ilu stra una hi sto ria con una secuen cia de fo tografías retocadas 2 ! y el muy con servador El Ti empo /lustrado publi ca una n a rració n criminal do nde en tres im áge nes se mu estra la reproducció n policíaca de los balazos que el poeta y bravero Sa lvador Díaz Miró n le die ra al diputado Ch apital. "

VI Ninguneados Lo cierto, lo indudable, es que la fo tonovela excede con mucho los límites de la prensa fe m enina. A unque [ve rdad tambi én[/a fo tonovela irrllmpe en la Cl/l tum de masas trémula, arrobada y rosácea ... Ferna ndo Curiel. Ma l de ojo.

Nos en ga ñ aro n . Teó ri cos y croni stas de la literatura de la image n n os en gañaron . Cuando Ro m án Gubern afirm a que: li Las foto n ove las [... ] nacie ron [... ] en Itali a en 1947, a partir d e la «cin e n o ve la », es d ec ir, d e l re la to d e l argum e nto de un film e a través de un a selecció n de fotos fij as del mismo, o rden adas y dispuestas pa ra una lectura secuen cial, y a las qu e se les h a brá n supe rpu es to tex tos ex pli ca ti vos o d e di álogos, p a ra facilita r la recon stru cc ió n d el rela to", el in a pela bl e es peciali sta falsea, sin qu e re r, la rea lidad . Y -43


Arriaga . " En el pecado ... " (fragmento). El Mundo, 20 de marzo de 1898.

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Pablo Boneu (Córdoba, Argentina, 1969) ha realizado documentales, instalaciones y escenografías, así como diversas producciones fotográficas, entre las que destaca la serie de fotomontajes historiados Burke & Hare, donde los dos asesinos

clásicos de la crónica policial británica se introducen en hi sto ria s extraídas de la literatura o de otros cómics. El texto que a continuación reproducimos fue extraído de " La sonrisa de América", que a su vez se integra a la trilogía intitulada Cuentos caníbales . Las imágenes forman parte de esa misma estructura narrativa .


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Archivo Trinidad Romero. Bocetos e indi cac iones pa ra la elaboraci贸n de un foto montaje, ca. 196 7.


atrás, que íbam os a saca r fotos de ova lito, pero nadie m e hizo caso . En m edi o d e l a lb oro to yo qu edé a sus pies y me tuve qu e queda r se ntado. Pusieron un ba nquito muy bonito, una m es ita y una copa. Cuando le estaba n sirviendo el champagne fu e qu e disparé la foto en la que la so rprend í cruzando las piernas. Fue un a foto de suerte" . La imagen que al reve la rse e imprimi rse m os tró el m ás cé lebre fI as hing d el fo t o peri o di sm o m ex ica n o (ve r Luna Córnea 12) , y q ue se p ubli có por prim era vez con un sticker sobre la "pa rte pú bi ca", sirv ió pa ra unas cuanta s co pi as de rega lo y des pu és desapa rec ió . Según Caballero, el n ega ti vo estuvo en man os de su compadre Ma rsan o, luego en las de Ra úl "El egro" Is un za y fin a lm e nt e lo hi zo p e rd e di zo un t a l Se rví n , q u e traba jaba en El So l de M éx ico y en El Naciona l.

No fu e la Mom oe la ún ica be ll eza que tuvo a t an co rta di stan cia, ni su impúdico retrato la única fot o q ue h a extrav iado este fotógrafo -sob re tod o después de las mudan zas a las que lo ob li garon los terremotos de 1985. Aficionado a los n o ti c ie r os fílmi cos qu e p asa b a n e n e l c in e Ca pito lio o en el Brise ño, a través de los cuales Antonio Caballero. Lucha Moreno y "losé l uan " , su es poso en la vid a real, d urante la film ación de " Una mu jer insegura " para la revista Nocturno, ca. 1968 .

Antonio Caballero. Toma de un anuncio luminoso en las calles de Orizaba y Álvaro Obregón para un capítul o de la fotonovela " Una mujer insegura", publ icado en la revista Nocturno, ca. 1968.


VIaJO por África mientras masticaba muéganos, la fotografía llegó a su vida por conducto de una cámara Brownie Fiesta comprada por su padrastro y, principalmente, porque su familia compartía la vecindad de la colonia Guerrero con una modista muy guapa -María Sánchez Castañeda- quien más tarde se casaría con el reportero gráfico Héctor García, al que apodaban l/El Ciclotrón". "María sabía de mi afición por la fotografía y me propuso trabajar con Héctor. Entré con un sueldo 'tremendo' de cinco pesos a la semana. Y tenía que hacerla de mandadero, lavador de coches y de todo lo que fuera. La oficina estaba en Reforma 12-503 y se llamaba García Fotopress. Duré tres meses así, con ese sueldo . Traté de renunciarle varias veces pero me volvía a .llamar. La verdad, fue un buen maestro, y una persona muy especial para mí. Muy cariñoso y muy ogro, las dos cosas." Ya provisto de una cámara Retina II, para cuya compra su madre empeñó un radio Majestic, el joven Caballero trabajó con Antonio "El Indio" Velázquez en

Antonio Caballero. Leny Fuentes y Enrique Álvarez Félix durante la filmación de "Gitanos" para Novelas de amor, ca . 1970.


Silenciado o modificado el sentido de su discurso y el marcaje de sus textos, la fotonovela recupera la deriva de sus imágenes; libera su catálogo de gestos, objetos, acciones y decorados. Eso que parece una secreta cita de amor o una dolorosa despedida desde el andén, bien puede ser la conspiración de nuestros más oscuros pensamientos. El fotógrafo que dirigió a Macaria, Ofelia Medina y Verónica Castro, y al Enrique Guzmán de la "generación jet", no es el único que existe en el archivo de Antonio Caballero. Hoy, dedicado a la fotografía científica en el Instituto de Investigaciones de Materiales de la UNAM, la revisión que ha emprendido de su trabajo le ha devuelto la ciudad, la política y los rostros de otros tiempos . La revuelta memoria de los "asuntos varios" donde siguen bailando el oso y el gitano que retrató al día siguiente del temblor que ocasionó la caída del Ángel de la Independencia.

Antonio Caballero. Los actores Blanca Sánchez y Xavier Loyá durante la filmación de un capítulo para la revista Capricho. Locación : Ciudad Satélite,

1967.

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de manera que dejo volar mi imaginaci贸n, sin estar sujeto


a juicios a priori.

De la serie: AlegorĂ­as de la belleza (#23), 1990.


UNO Louise y Suzanne, dos mujeres viejas, solas, recluídas, dos hermanas. Pequeñas, grises y encorbadas; para aquél que se cruza con ellas en la calle, banales. Dos mujeres que viven desde hace más de cuarenta años en un hotel particular en el quinzieme arrondissement. Un jardín tupido en verano, miserable en invierno, clausurado por una pesada puerta de metal negra. Dos mujeres protegidas por un perro, un gran pastor alemán: Whysky. Un perro adquirido para cuidar el dinero de estas dos mujeres, un perro guardián. Éste podría ser un lugar para el crimen, pero se va a desarrollar solamente como un simulacro. Es Suzanne, la más grande, la que tiene el dinero. Louise, su hermana, la vieja carmelita, juega el papel de la sirvienta, de la humilde y la tirana. Suzanne hace el relato de la mezquindad, de los recuerdos, del sufrimiento. Ella dice: l/Jamás he amado más que a

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mí misma". También dice que jamás ha llorado y que jamás ha sonreído, que jamás ha bailado. Louise hace el relato de la euforia, de la ascesis, de la muerte. Desde la venta de la farmacia, ya nadie viene a verlas, salvo su joven sobrino. Él escribe una obra sobre ellas. Cuando están solas, no se hablan. Louise, a la mesa, lee novelas de folletín, mientras que Suzanne escucha en la radio el juego de los Vingt millions cash". No se hablan, salvo 1/

cuando él viene a verlas cada domingo. No le preguntan sobre su vida ni sobre su trabajo, sino que hablan a través de él. Para él, actúan la comedia de sus relaciones. Lo seducen, son celosas. Él se calla y las escucha. Se sorprenden del interés que les demuestra, halagadas, conmovidas. Suzanne le dice: l/Si nos vinieras a ver al parque, la gente te consideraría mi novio" . Sospechan que él escribe algo sobre ellas; es por eso que hablan sin reparos, de un modo casi exagerado, sin nada que perder.

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Los cabellos de Louise Louise se cortó el cabello. No se lo había cortado desde que dejó la orden Carmelita, en 1945, y no la reconocí. Por cruel que pueda parecer, no veo ahora más que una pequeña mujer, vieja, sin belleza, sin dimensión. De inmediato me pregunto cómo pude tomar esas fotos. Por otra parte, ella se cortó el cabello poco tiempo después de que yo lo fotografiara. Me dice: "Qué suerte que tomaste las fotos" (como si la fotografía fuera \.tna práctica sacrificial). Me muestra su cabello cortado, la despreciable masa gris y enmarañada que colocó en una bolsa de papel.

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El cadáver Suzanne, al al fin, como en un desafío, me propone aq aquello uello que se refiere especialment deseo en este relato fotográfico, y que yo no me había atrevido a hacer consciente. Me dice: Voy a hablar para l/Veamos el núm ero de teléfono en el carnet de la Facultad de Medicina. Vaya preguntar si puedes seguir mi cuerpo cuando yo muera, fotografiar lo que van a hacer con él". Me doy cuenta, entonces, que hago esta serie del simulacro de la muerte de Suzanne, únicamente para liberarme de la angustia de este rapto: ni bien muera, debemos llamar a la Facultad, el cuerpo será llevado de inmediato, será arrebatado, nadie lo estará velando. Me informo sobre aquello en lo que se va a convertir exactamente: de la furgoneta , envuelto en una manta, el cuerpo es colocado sobre una camilla. Es desangrado sobre una palangana, cortando una arteria en la base de la ingle, para poder, enseguida, llenarlo de formol por el cuello. La piel se vuelve azul muy rápidamente, a veces casi morada; todo el cuerpo adquiere una apariencia de cera. Es inmediatamente bajado en ascensor hasta un cuarto subterráneo, sin ventanas, iluminado solamente por una luz de neón. Un ventilador gira sobre un gran cubo de vidrio transparente, lleno de formol, donde flotan los cadáveres que un hombre en bata blanca, subido a una escalera, agita con una vara de madera. Hu ele a vinaza y a· desinfectante. Una vez que los cadáveres han sido bien remojados, se los saca por los pies con una polea para que se escurran. El cuerpo es colocado en un cajón de metal dentro de un cuarto frío, en espera de que sea donado a un estudiante. Se cubre el rostro con una funda, los dedos no llegan a las partes más internas sino a través de la membrana translúcida de un guante. Ninguna parte del cuerpo es conservada, sino que es echada sucesivamente en una gran bolsa de plástico negro, para ser quemada. Traducción del francés: María José Ramos y Patricia Gola. ___ 131


UN ÁLBUM RECOBRADO Ana Casas

Durante años mi abuela tomaba fotos de todo. Era su manera de estar presente. Cuenta que mi abuelo solía decirle: Toma una más, por si acaso. Los domingos ella pasaba transparencias. Él se quedaba dormido.

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En 1963 mi abuelo dijo que iba a comprar cigarrillos y no volvió. Se fue con otra mujer. Mi abuela se quedó sola en la casa. Poco después mi madre también se marchó a Londres a continuar sus estudios de etnologías.

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Viena, 28 de julio, 1988. Desde niña siempre vuelvo a la casa de mi abuela en Viena y sus

álbumes de fotografías e jercen un a atracción especial sobre mí. Parece esconderse en ellos un secreto, la clave de algún misterio. No distingo las fotos de mis recuerdos, ya no sé si los he construido a partir de las imágenes. Viena, 12 de mayo, 1989. Hace unas semanas llegué a casa de mi abuela . Ayer bajé al jardín,

me desnudé y tomé fotos. Un rato después allí estaba ella, sentada, mirándome. Poco a poco nos acercamos silenciosamente y empezamos a hacer fotografías juntas. Mi abuela me regaló su cámara. La ha usado casi cincuenta años. ~

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LISBOA O EL CAMINO DE LA VIDA Patricia Arriaga

A MANERA DE PRÓLOGO

Uno de los placeres de visitar Lisboa es pasear por sus barrios, fotografiando las calles y la vida cotidiana de quienes ahí habitan. Una mañana me refugié de un breve chubasco de primavera bajo los portales de la Pra~a do Comércio donde, como todos los sábados, se había instalado un pequeño mercado de antigüedades, fierros viejos y enseres usados. Me llamó la atención un puesto atendido por un joven que tarareaba con entusiasmo la música que escuchaba a través de los audífonos de su walkman. Sobre una pequeña mesa

Patricia Arriaga estudió Ciencias de la Comunicación en la Universidad Iberoamericana, y Economía (maestría y doctorado) en la New School for Social Research de Nueva York. Es fotógrafa y creadora de libros de artista. Ha tenido varias exposiciones individuales y el año próximo dos de sus libros serán exhibidos en Holanda y Portugal. Las fotos que aquí aparecen forman parte de Lisboa o el camino de la vida, libro que aparecerá próximamente bajo el sello de Artes de México .

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tenía un vieJo archivo con postales de los años cuarentas. Me detuve a admirar el cuidado con el que los fotógrafos de entonces coloreaban a mano hasta el último detalle. Cuando me apartaba caí en cuenta de que junto a ellas había varias pequeñas cajas rotuladas con nombres de ciudades portuguesas. Por curiosidad abrí la caja marcada Lisboa y encontré varios recortes y artíeulos de revista cuidadosamente doblados. El material era de fines de los años veinte y había sido sacado de Presenra, una importante revista literaria de la época. Le pregunté al joven por el precio de la caja. Con cierto enfado se desconectó los audífonos y citó una cifra francamente accesible. Seguía lloviendo. Decidí atravesar la calle e ir al café Martinho da Arcada a disfrutar de mi adquisición. El lugar estaba casi vacío. Tomé una mesa cerca de la ventana y ordené unos pasteis de natas y un café. Al sacar los recortes de la caja descubrí un pequeño atado. Un pañuelo le servía de envoltura y un listón negro lo amarraba. Con el morbo de mirar lo

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que no está destinado para uno, lo desaté. El pañuelo contenía una colección de fotografías y algunas cartas de los años treinta, todas dirigidas a Inés do Mar, Calc;:ada da Vida 96, Lisboa . Por el cuidado con el que estaba envuelto y ordenado deduje el valor que su dueña le había dado. Era evidente que las fotografías habían sido tomadas por ella pues llevaban un sello con la leyenda l. do Mar. Fotografia. La composición de las imágenes mostraba una visión de vanguardia para su época . Al reverso, alguien de nombre Fernando había copiado algunas frases y versos, seguramente para su novia. Los poemas mostraban que el amigo de Inés tenía un alma fina y melancólica. No me cupo la menor duda de que debieron haber hecho una buena pareja: las fotografías compartían con las líneas escritas una profunda melancolía. Empecé a leer. Poco a poco me fui adentrando en una vida que por azar me había tocado conocer. Pero no quisiera narrarles lo que ese día de primavera encontré. Sean ustedes mismos quienes lo descubran y hagámonos cómplices de lo que alguna vez fue.

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Repito lo más descorazonador de esta malévola teoría sobre las las artes: según ella, sálo mediante la ficción de una representación podríamos acercarnos acercarn os a algo real y verdadero. Sin la ficción de una representación caeríamos en la irrealidad y falsedad de la pura nada. En el d deal. eal. Féli x de d e Azú a Félix

Cosa rara : varias veces me han pedido una foto (sin haberla visto y con la finalidad de exhibirla en muestras con temas inesperados in esperados y curadurías caprichosas) donde aparezco a parezco trepado en el monumento a la Cibeles, vaciando agua sobre mis pies con una regadera . He descrito la situación y mostrado el video y las fotos con los que registré tal evento . Más allá de que nunca he expuesto esa obra como fotografía, el hecho me ha llevado a pensar si valdría la pena convertirla en una ima___

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gen fija, atemporal y abierta a interpretaciones de todo tipo, o no mostrarla, y permitir que viva exclusivamente nte en la memoria de me quienes estuvimos allí, que continúe viviendo en un formato form ato llamado rumor. Involuntariamente, creo, este hecho se emparenta con una serie de preguntas poco novedosas pero pertinentes: ¿qué es la obra?, ¿el evento?, ¿el video?, ¿la foto?, ¿la Cibeles?, ¿el agua?, ¿este texto? No tan involuntariamente hubo registro de esa acción y la mera presencia de las personas que yo decidí, hizo posible que la obra existiera en un ámbito á mbito permanente. Algunos eventos espaciales, hechos exclusivamente para ser registrados fotográficamente, han sido ,olocados ,alocados

en el filo de la navaja gracias a nuestra complicidad. Tambié n algunos artistas han bién adoptado esa ambivalencia pantanosa para comenta comentarr sobre la distribución del aarte, rte, el contexto de la obra y su consumo. Tambi También é n ha permitido una más elástica acepción del arte contemporá contemporáneo. neo . Conocemos, vía el documento, por ejemplo, la - eflrnl~1

espiral

e Robert Smithson, si .I;¡e t.a a all allíí (al menos yo) . Probablemente, como sugiere Damián Ortega, tan sólo sea una engañosa maqueta realizada en el jardín clasemediero del artista, eso sí: muy bien fotografiada. En otros casos, las imágenes forman parte de un imaginario colectivo como hechos reales, a sabiendas de


Hiroshi Sugimoto. Mar de Irlanda.

Hiroshi Sugimoto. Mar Tirreno.

mientos, de tiempos y espacios que distan mucho entre sí pero que mantienen una constante: el personaje principal siempre es el mismo. Valdría la pena observar la distancia que existe entre la primera y la última imagen y la importancia que cada una conlleva en el acto de volver a estar en escena . Siguiendo las secuencias que esta narración nos ofrece y los innumerables cortes que realiza, ¿podríamos hablar de una imagen inaugural? ¿o acaso debemos mantenerlas todas al mismo nivel y dejar que jueguen entre sí para proponerse como tiempos paralelos? Si creemos que existe un tiempo de la enunciación, un tiempo

sujeto se ve obligado a hacer visible su presencia protagónica con cada nuevo disparo de la cámara. Ahí está esa parte del coche que delata al artista, que lo vuelve parte substancial de esta relación subjetiva que mantiene con el afuera . La idea parece bastante sencilla: subir al auto y retratar todos los camiones de carga que encuentre a su paso durante el trayecto. P,ero la ecuación se vuelve mucho más compleja y tenemos que, sobre lo mismo, Baldessari ha construido un entramado de diferencias y lleva su proyecto hasta una especie de mitología personal: el espectador siempre ocupará el lugar del artista sentado en su auto.

del hablante, tenemos que decir que, después de la segunda imagen, todas tienen la función afirmativa que ya estaba. en la primera. El acontecimiento marca una geografía y un mapa cuya importancia está en el objeto de la repetición pero, incluso a regañadientes, el

A diferencia de Baldessari, Hiroshi Sugimoto es un artista que realiza enormes traslados para construir siempre la misma imagen en blanco y negro. Partiendo en dos el cuadro, el horizonte se impone con una calma exquisita,

Segunda aproximación

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Luis Felipe Ortega. Sin título (La distancia necesaria), 1997. Cortesía: Kurimanzutto

exóticos de toda la galaxia y tan-tan ... final feliz una vez más. Es evidente que toda fotografía cuenta una historia, de lo que sea, de nada, de algo. Es evidente que al hacer un reportaje fotográfico se busca que el espectador tenga una buena noción de qué viene después de qué, que halla una historia bien contada. Algunos reportajes lo hacen de una forma casi didáctica, es decir, después de A viene B y luego C. Pareciera que en este sentido la fotografía no cuenta historias en fotos, sino con fotos . Generalmente una sola imagen no nos basta para comprenderlo y se tiene que recurrir a las series, lo cual nos acerca un tanto más al lenguaje cinematográfico y nos aleja de lo instantáneo y contundente de la fotografía. Creo que sólo algunas fotografías

logran encerrar dentro de un solo cuadro una historia más compleja, una donde el final es sólo el principio de una serie de preguntas que nos llevan a varios lados al mismo tiempo. El porqué el arte contemporáneo se ha dedicado a variar estos métodos es claro, pero las preguntas siguen siendo casi las mismas, y a mi parecer, éste es un lugar en el que uno como artista y como espectador debe seguir indagando. Personalmente estoy en contra de la didáctica en el arte. Creo que no debemos tomar al espectador como un tonto que no entiende nada y que no está dispuesto a hacerse las preguntas que uno, como artista, se hace . . y entonces viene la ambigüedad. Por supuesto que en cuanto conocemos cierto desarrollo, en cuanto entendemos los procesos, las imágenes ~

159


CONVOCATORIA El Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, a través del Centro de la Imagen, en el marco del festejo Año 2000: del siglo XX al Tercer Milenio presenta la convocatoria para la edición del libro

Iconografía de la vida cotidiana mexicana en el siglo XX El volumen deberá constituir un recorrido de la vida cotidiana en México a lo largo del siglo que termina. La factura de sus páginas tendrá por objetivo conjuntar las fotografías que capten el desarrollo de la sociedad civil de nuestro país, en géneros fotográficos tales como: documental, artístico, publicitario, etcétera. Bases: 1. Podrán participar con seudónimo todos los curadores e historiadores radicados en la República mexicana o que vivan en el extranjero sin límite de edad, quienes entregarán en sobre cerrado (identificado con seudónimo), conteniendo curriculum detallado y síntesis, incluyendo domicilio, teléfono, fax y e-mail. Podrán participar extranjeros residentes en México que comprueben estancia de más de tres años. 2. Una vez emitido el fallo se procederá a la apertura del sobre anexo con la identificación del postulante ante Natario Público. 3. La recepción de los trabajos será a partir de la fecha de la publicación de la presente Convocatoria hasta el 25 de marzo del año 2000. En el caso de los trabajos remitidos por correo, se aceptarán aquellos que la fecha de matasellos sea anterior o coincida con el cierre de la Convocatoria. 4. Los resultados se publicarán a más tardar el 20 de abril del 2000. 5. No podrán participar funcionarios del Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (directores de área, subdirectores, coordinadores y jefes de departamento) de cualquiera de sus dependencias. 6. No se devolverán originales ni copias de los trabajos no premiados, sino que serán destruidos. 7. Las propuestas podrán ser individuales o de grupo. 8. Se entregará un guión del libro por triplicado apegado a los siguientes puntos: • El postulante deberá entregar una breve justificación del guión que propone.

• El libro final deberá conformarse de 140 imágenes, aunque la muestra puede estar conformado por un mínimo de cuatro imágenes por década. No se aceptarán listados generales. • El guión deberá establecer un recorrido iconográfico por el México del siglo XX. • El guión deberá privilegiar aquellas imágenes que revelen el desarrollo del país a través de la transformación de la vida cotidiana de la sociedad civil. Algunos ejemplos temáticos: ·Aparatos electrodomésticos • Arquetipos de belleza • Moda • Autos • Cinematógrafos • Deportes • Oficios • Espacios (la calle y el campo) • Fiestas 9. El pago o derecho de publicación de las fotografías propuestas será tramitado por el CNCA a través del Centro de la Imagen. 10. El postulante deberá entregar un original engargolado (y tres copias) que refleje la concepción serial. 11. Premio único e indivisible: $150,000.00 (CIENTO CINCUENTA MIL PESOS 00/1 00 m.n.) y la edición del libro. 12. La obra ganadora será publicada por el CNCA a través de Centro de la Imagen y la Dirección General de Publicaciones. 13. El jurado estará formado por tres autoridades de reconocido prestigio y su fallo será inapelable. Las actas de dictaminación serán confidenciales. El jurado no podrá declarar desierto el certamen. 14. Las propuestas deberán enviarse al siguiente domicilio: Centro de la Imagen / Iconografía de la vida cotidiana mexicana en el siglo XX. Plaza de la Ciudadela 2. Centro Histórico 06040, México, D.F . Tel / fax: 57 091510,6095 Y 5914.


T H E

S T O R Y


TELLING

1\1 A

e

HIN E


Presentation

"Is it possible to think in terms of a truly photographic narrative form?" John Berger asks himself in the last chapter of Another Way of Tellmg. Thls issue of Luna Cornea reformulates this questlon and presents some posslble answers to it. The genres we take a look at here combine, in different and contradictory ways, text and image, fiction and reality, artlflce and documento This urge to narrate, fictionalize, and stage is expressed both in Peach Robinson s tableaux-vivants and Sam Samore's paintinq cinema, in the traditional use of photomontage and in popular photo-novellas as well as in the redefinitions of visual dlscourse put forth by certain forms of contemporary art practice. So fixed images could tell us their stories, comic-strip artist José Trinidad Romero's archives were dusted off and the origlns of na-rative photography in the Mexican press were researched. John Baldessari's spheres alterna te with the circular vision of Borges's Aleph, as seen by Raul E. Stolkiner, and with Roger Omar s no less metaphysical globes. A roman-photo by Herve Guibert, a family album by Ana Casas and a series of fake objets-trouvés by Patricia Amaga explore the posslbilltles of photographic Introspectlon. Passerby Nacho López bumps into stage director Duane Michals on San Slmon Street in the Portales neighborhood to discuss the art of the photographic sequen ce. Displacements, repetitlons, superimpositions, journals, graphlc defense, romantic stories and macabre allegories make up this issue, In whlch visual artist Laureana Toledo and researcher Armando Bartra participated as guest edltors. Luna Cornea's readers will decide upon seeing these stories if a picture is worth more than a

thousand words.

Patricia Gola


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Galia Eibenschutz nació en la ciudad de México y es egresada de la Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas de la UNAM. Su obra -dibujo, grabado e instalación- ha sido exhibida en el Museo del Chopo, e! Museo Nacional de Arte y en diferentes espacios alternativos. Para esta entrega de Luna Córnea, Galia se apropió de la pedacería fotográfica que aún conserva el archivo de José Trinidad Romero -el prolífico fotomontajista de cuya trayectoria se ocupa en estas páginas Juan Manuel Aurrecochea. En el espacio virtual que les abrió la artista, que ya antes se había ocupado de fábulas y lugares imaginarios, ~os descatalogados héroes y villanos de historietas de hace cuatro o cinco décadas retoman sus trabajos de asustar, atacar, huir, conmoverse o azorarse, a las que sus poses los condenaron para siempre. Arrancados de su cementerio de pape!, están ahora disponibles para enredarse en nuevas tramas, ya no mediante la ayuda de la tijera, sino medidnte el indoloro sistema del photoshop. Luna Córnea agradece la colaboración de Arturo Romero, el hijo y heredero de José Trinidad, quien facilitó el material para que Galia diera nueva vida a estos per~onajes hoy legendarios.

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Galia Eibenschutz was born in Mexico City and is a graduate of the National School of Visual Arts of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Her work -drawings, prints and installations- has been exhibited in the Chopo Museum, the National Museum of Art and in various ~Iternative spaces. For this issue of Luna Córnea, Eibenschutz appropriated a number of the photographic clippings which are still preserved in the archives of José Trinidad Romero, the prolific photomontage artist whose development Juan Manuel Aurrecochea reviews in these pages. Eibenschutz, who had already been working with fa bies and imaginary spaces, placed these chippings in a virtual spac where the uncatalogued comic-book heroes and villains of four or five decades ago resume their tasks of frightening, attacking, escaping, being moved to pity or alarm -tasks to which their poses and posltions condemn them forever Torn from their paper cemetery, they are now ready to become entangled in new plots, no longer with the help of the scissors, but rather through the painless system called Photoshop. Luna Cornea is grateful for the support of Arturo Romero, son and heir of José Trinidad, who provided the material so that Eibenschutz might give new life to these now legendary characters.


Contents

THE LIVING STATUES Ana Elena Mallet

172

THE CRIME AT SANTA JULIA jacinto Barrera

178

PHOTOGRAPHIC NARRATIVE IN THE MEXICAN PRESS Armando Bartra

181

THE STAGE DIRECTOR AND THE PASSERBY Carlos Monsivรกis

198

BORGES'S PANOPTICON

202

Mauricio Molina

THOUGH OUR EYES MIGHT ALMOST BE ROUND

Roger Ornar

204

MR. WITTINGHAM'S RIDDLE

Patricia Gola

205

CANNIBAL TALES

Pablo Boneu

206

CARNIVAL OF IMAGES Juan Manuel Aurrecoechea

207

THE AESTHETIC OF THE PHOTO-NOVEL jean-Claude Chirollet

212

ANTONIO CABALLERO'S JET-SET Alfonso Morales

213

SUZANNE AND LOUISE

Herve Guibert

218

LlSBON, OR THE WALK OF LIFE Patricia Arriaga

222

SPATIAL DOCUMENTS Abraham Cruzvillegas

223

TO ARCHIVE, TO REPEAT, TO TRAVEL Luis Felipe Ortega

228

FINALE Laureana Toledo

232

AII onglnal Spanlsh texts translated by Richard Moszka and len Hofer, except lor "The Aesthetlc 01 the Photo-Novel" and "Suzanne and Louise" translated lrom the French by Richard Moszka.


2. The Artistic Pose The na me tableau vivant was given to the representation theatrical, immobile and mute, with period costumes-of an artistic or literary work with historical, mythological or religious themes. Originally linked to liturgical and allegorical dramatizations from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the art of the "perfect imitation" was consolidated as a form of performance in the second ralf of the eighteenth century. At that time a close relationship arose between painting and theater in Europe, promoted by the encyclopedist Diderot in particular. For the enjoyment of the educated public, works were staged which used neither words nor oratorical voices, and which focused instead on carefully-developed details of costuming and set designo This drama tic art which anticipated the power of the image over the word appropriated the pictorial works of Leonardo da Vinci, Louis David, Poussin and Rubens . Throughout the nineteenth century these poses plastiques functioned first at the parties attended by kings, princes, aristocrats, and the bourgeoisie, and later among those who populated boulevards and fairs-as an educational form of entertainment, as euphuistic references and moralizing lessons, and simultaneously as a socially accepted game of transvestism and disgUlse. The styles which in the first decades of the last century led to the creation of "Iive museums" would later provide the basis for a whole series of stereoscopic images with narrative sequences which can be considered distant antecedents

of the modern photonovella . The art of living statues could not, however, compete with the novelty of cinema . 3. The Personified Portrait Originating in France and Germany, the tableau vivant was extremely well-received in the highest strata of Victoria n English culture. In the 1840s, two Scotsmen-the painter David Octavius Hill, with Robert Adamson as technical assistant-pioneered in the photographic use of those mises-en-scene. Between 1840 and 1870, the most prominent British photographers explored the possibilities of theatrical montage and personified portraiture. As Quentin Bajac notes (Tableaux vivants. Fantaisies photographiques victoriennes. Musee d'Orsay, 1999), the technical advances and patronage of the arts which gave rise to the High Art of Photography-the school which sought recognition for the "painting of light" as an artistic discipline-also took a favorable view of the cultivation of this new genre which functloned both to serve and to take advantage of the prestige of heroes, muses and myths. According to Bajac, the tableau

---------173


vivant functioned so that the medium of photography "might not be merely an instrument with which to record a given reality, but also a vector of dreams and imagination, just like painting and printmaking." As a result of this tendency, the first book of poems illuminated with photographic images, Alfred Tennyson's Idyl/s of the King, was published in 1875. For more than three months during the previous year, Camelot's castle had been reinvented in Julia Margaret Cameron's studio. Merlin the Magician, Lancelot, Vivian and Arthur the King were incarnated in the bodies of Cameron's friends, servants, visitors and people she did not know who agreed to become, for a brief while, part of the legend. 4. A Pastiche of Pictorial Codes In the works of the Swedish painter and photographer Oscar Gustav Rejlander, the tableau vivant was perfected as a form of theater-withcamera. Les deux modes de vie (1857), his best-known work, acquired at one time by Queen Victoria, results from the assemblage of approximately 30 different negatives. Regarding this masterpiece of combination printing, in which a panoramic view of a mural is shown in conjunction with details from the frieze, Quentin Bajac writes: "Everything in the piece tends to negate its photographic nature through the use of a pastiche of pictorial codes: the choice of an allegorical theme, the treatment of this theme, the use of nude figures which had been previously set aside in English photography of the time, 174

the general composition freely inspired by Raphael's School of Athens; in short, its meticulous creation through the use of models, which functions in opposition to the immediacy of photography." 5. The Dream Dimension In 1858, the pre-Raphaelite invaded British photography with its angels, spirits and phantoms. Henry Peach Robinson, one of Rejlander's students, paid tribute to these thematics and explored new technical possibilities at the same time. Double exposure, a more subtle method than photographic collage, was used to gain entrance to the territories of dream, agony and the Great Beyond. In his Lady Shalott, inspired by a John Everett Milliais painting which shows William Shakespeare's Ophelia on her deathbed, Robinson succeeds in creating a perfect photomontage with the use of only two negatives.

6. Wonderland Another terrain explored by artists of the Victoria n era was the realm of children. So-called tableaux miniatures or miniatures vivan tes had children as both their protagonists and their pnmary audience. Alice Pleasance Liddell, the girl who inspired Alice in Wonderland, was the model for various works created by the photography aficionado Lewis Carroll. In a studio filled with games, music boxes, funhouse mirrors and costumes from the Drury Lane Theater, Pastor Carroll discovered the possibilities of the personified portrait as a game of seduction.


Tiburcio. They maintained that Timoteo, drunk, beat his wife and that when their son intervened in her defense he ended up getting killed. Subsequently, the repentant colonel had attempted suicide. "This gutless man and his wife are embroiled in a dispute, they shout their hatred at each other, they fight... And then the beast goes for his gun, the woman goes out and grabs a piece of wood; he shoots blind ... The children scatter in every direction; and blind with rancor, with hatred, with blood, with fear, Andrade shoots and shoots and josĂŠ falls ... So this man violated his paternity, he is no longer a father. So what is he, Members of the jury? ... He is ... Timoteo Andrade."4 A judicial scandal for the regime, comparable only to that precipitated by the death of Arnulfo Arroyo, another frustrated supposed assassin who, while his hands were tied, was stabbed to death by police officers working under orders of their superiors in September of 1897. 5 By that point, there already existed a plethora of newspapers and magazines in Mexico City and stories about the Andrade case spilled out of the spaces usually reserved for lurid crime reports to make front-page news. During the eight years his trial lasted, Andrade changed defense lawyers again and again until, happily for him, the case was taken up once again by Francisco A. Serralde, a lawyer who would make history for having been the legal expert to whom the inhabitants of Yautepec and Anenecuilco turned, in 1904 and 1909 successively, in their search for someone to mediate in their unsuccessful defense of their

lands. Among the Morelos campesinos who approached

Serralde was, we now know, one Emiliano Zapata Salazar" But as for the colonel's situation, in order to acquire his liberty Serralde had to resort to the Supreme Court of justice,' putting forth as a defense the hypothesis that what occurred in Andrade's house had been an assault, rather than a dispute. Serralde, who had positivist inclinations, distinguished himself among his contemporary colleagues for making less use of oratory, attempting instead methods involving written argument. For this reason, he tended to leave evidence of his work behind, in the form of serial pamphlets that he himself sent out for publication and distribution among the attendant judges and officials. Among the most notable of these texts is The Crime at Santa Ju/ia: Graphic Defense Presented by Licenciado Francisco A. Serra/de, Defense Counse/ of C%ne/ Timoteo Andrade, Making Use of the Physica/ C1ues Found on the Bodies of the Crime Victims.

Subsequently, after finishing publication of a complete account of the extensive proceedings, Serralde posed himself the question: "How do I transmit, to a concerned society, the absolute conviction that I harbor of Colonel Timoteo Andrade's innocence?" He ansv.ered himself immediately: "Photography and sculpture will solve the problem." In The Crime at Santa Ju/ia, Serralde made a much more sophisticated use of photography than that proposed by the criminology manuals of the time, 179


Photographic Narrative in the Mexican Press Armando Bartra

1. Laaking far last time /'ve dreamt about fabricating a sort of photographic rifle that wou/d allow me [ ... ] to capture on the p/ate the successive phases of movement. Jules Marey. La Nature. December 18th, 1878.

At first, photophagous machines recorded the temporal course of things. As long as pictorial and sculptural representations resigned themselves to their immobility, the "camera obscura" -a photographic contraption the Chinese and Arab worlds had knowledge of in ancient times, and which Aristotle and Leonardo mention in their writings-reestablished the restless passage of time. The sixteenthcentury description of a University of Padua professor, Danielo Barbaro, rather than prefigure Daguerre's frozen, monochromatic images, seems to intuit the creation of the modern television screen:

There on the paper you wíll see the whole víew as it really is, wíth íts dístances, its colors and shadows and motion; the clouds, the water twínkling, the birds flying.' Movement was misplaced afterwards. To draughtsmen and painters who had relied upon the "camera obscura" since the seventeenth century, moving images were a nuisance. Thus, determined to come up with a chemical process which would replace the artist's brush or pencil strokes, Niepce and Daguerre's findings contributed to the continued use of the old optical device in static, pictorial media.

"Freezing the instant" is not consubstantial with a light trap whose representations were at first colorful and dynamic; rather, it is the result of the support's limitations and its original mimicry of painting. For this reason, after the fathers of photography had attempted to immobilize by means of chemistry what draughtsmen captured by hand, others followed who just as fervently attempted to breathe life back into frozen images. The pictorialist lens sought to recover lost time by means of the anecdote and, sometimes, dynamic composition. Following in the footsteps of Romantic painters, midnineteenth-century aestheticist photographers superimposed their negatives to depict key scenes of an underlying story. Taking more liberties, others explored specifically photographic technical alternatives, turning a common defect into a premeditated effect: blurred images. Thus, Baldus intentionally documented ghostly carriages rolling by the Royal Palace in Paris, while Famin depicted the movement of a white horse's tail in an elegant slippage of light. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Muybridge, with his rows of synchronized cameras, and Marey, with his repeating photographic rifle, recouped lost time. But, obsessed by the conundrums of dynamic anatomy, they both concentrated on locomotion. Theirs is a rhetoric of animal and human movement, not of dramatic action. As precursors of cinematographers-as 181


their images come to life when they are successively projected in sequence-, the fathers of chronophotography expanded the camera's narrative potential, though they themselves stopped short of telling stories. Under the pseudonym F. Daguerre, the writer of the artide "Photographic Curiosities. A Fraud" published June 4th, 1899 in the Mexican weekly El Mundo, explained the supposed origin of the four photos illustrating it. They were, he stated, pictures taken during the great earthquake of January 24th of that year, showing Mexico City's best-known monuments shaking from the tremor. One of the pictures depicted a triple image of a sculpture of Carlos IV with the caption "The Trojan horse transformed into a company of rural guards ... " "AII this-it continued-because [the photographers] were able to capture movement." But the writer soon ex poses the fraud: the sun at its zenith and the San Hip贸lito dock striking noon indicate how the photos were taken at midday, while the earthquake occurred at sundown. It seems the photographer has the St. Vitus dance. "He was the one moving, not the planet," condudes Daguerre. The artide and its accompanying photos are local accounts of the photographic mania to document action. They also show how photographers resorted to multiple or blurred images to represent motion, and even ex pose the trickery that often lies beneath the collodion's proverbial veracity. And finally, they can be seen as a witty attempt to portray time, an obsession which from then on would be channeled 182

towards photographic story telling, both factual and fictional. If there exists narrative music like that of Berlioz, narrative landscaping like that of seventeenth-century England, and even narrative architecture, like the constructions Edward Frank Willis James designed in Xilitla, far be it from photography not to engage in the topie. I am not referring to anecdote-Ioaded single images, but to sequences that tell a story:' a type of sequential photography which possesses its own canonical sub-genres -photoreportage, the photo-novella and the photographic comic strip. 11. What Klic Invented Halftane photoengraving joined in the fray.

Julio Poulat, El Mundo Ilustrado,

November 9th, 1913.

Tall, thin, anxious, with brown, shifty eyes, Rafael Reyes Sp铆ndola was a friendly and persuasive Oaxacan man who, during the second half of Porfirio Diaz's rule, would beco me the tzar of Mexican journalism. But in 1894 he was still a novice in the game of publishing, and when he sold El Universal to Ram贸n Prida, he promised not to issue another newspaper in the capital. Thus, to publish El Mundo he had to move to Puebla, turning the city into the cradle of Mexican photo-journalism. He made use of the press at the Boys' Orphanage to print his weekly and, for the amount of 2700 pesos, he set up a novel photoengraving workshop. Governor Mucio P. Mart铆nez took part in the venture, "only interest being to foster the development of the School of Arts and for Puebla to be the founding


Contrary to the way collaborators were rarely given their due credit in the press in previous years, Spíndola's weekly granted great importance to both photographs and photographers. In the first issue they published a shot of the Teatro de la Paz under construction, and apologized for not showing it in its completed state, as the photographer "needs time to prepare the pictures [for publication]." "Our envoy assures us-they clarified-that to take photographs of the completed building he will have to wait until the day of the opening." This statement, incidentally, created an expectation for the photo-reportage to be published the following week. The photo-reportage itself consists of six photographs: the theater's interior is depicted on the front page, while on the following pages we see a shot of its facade similar to the one that had appearE'd in the previous issue, only now in its completed state, and photographs of five commemorative arches situated in various streets of the state capital. The editor gave the photographer credit and even "being such an efficient collaborator to our company." Several professional portraitists were based in San Luis Potosí-Pedro González, J. Wenzin & Co., the brothers Méndez and Martín Dahalde, among others. But El Mundo chose to employ Emilio G. Lobato, a Spanish immigrant. Today we know that the journalist the weekly sent to cover the opening was Julio Poulat, Spíndola's righthand man, the magazine's unacknowledged editor and the anonymous author of practically all 184

the texts. Thanks to an article he wrote almost nineteen years later, we find out how the memorable photograph was taken, and why Lobato was and at once was not a precursor. Poulat writes: "1 went to San Luis Potosí to document the legal holidays of the month of November and aboye all the opening of the Teatro de la Paz, and I met a good photographer who had been Hired to take pictures of the hall from different angles during the ceremony and who in fact had put his camera right in the middle of the stage. And then there was a speech; Othon, the immortal Othon's poetry was marvelous; the concert was about to begin but the camera remained in place, bearing a large sign that read El Mundo Ilustrado, while the collodion artist was nowhere to be seen. Senselessly panic-stricken, he did not dare remove the obstructing apparatus. Faced with this ridiculous situation, I decided to go out and pretend to take the picture, though I had never before handled a plate or a lens. I hastily asked for instructions, got onstage, put the black cloth over my head, signaled the assistant to set off the magnesium flashbulb and proudly carried the camera offstage. Governor Díaz Gutiérrez as well as many other people who knew me or guessed what was going on clapped loudly, politely or as a joke. And to everyone's surprise the photograph turned out to be almost perfect, it was published and drew numerous subscribers.'" Lobato's stage fright is symptomatic of something more than his own shyness: when press


photography made "current events" visible, photographers also had to appear on stage, and had to get used to being vicarious protagonists of the events they documented. Regarding the rest of the story, it does not matter much at this point whether Lobato or Poulat took the picture. What is important is to establish the fact that the first piece of photojournalism to ever be published was not the famous interior shot but the series of eight photographs that documented the new theater's opening, including the image of the scaffold-covered facade published November 4th. This seminal piece appeared in the weekly's first and second issues and was not a single picture but a photo-reportage, the chronicling of an event by means of a sequence of images, a narrative and analytical project comprised of different moments and points of view: the befo re and after, the facade and the interior, the theater and its surroundings. IV. Darkroom Chronicles Calling for photographs! AII professional or amateur photographers who would like to see their work published. may send it to our editorial office. We offer compensation tor published material. Current affairs photographs are preferred. El Mundo Ilustrado, November 16th, 1913.

"Journalism is a business like any other,"B wrote El Mundo's editor in the weekly's sixth issue. It was neither a cultural mission nor about partisan politics, but a commercial operation that had pay out dividends. At the crossroads of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, doctrinal, totemic journalism with its

sprinkling of folkloric illustrations or political caricatures gave way to a flashy, attention-grabbing form of reportage committed only to sales and subservient to the powers that be. And just as reporters supplanted columnists, photoengraving replaced lithography or zincography and irascible stone grinders has to share their space with gentle camera and tripod operators. The first photographers were stylish-professionals like Lorenzo Becerril who made "stereoscopic vistas" in his studio in Puebla and traveled throughout the country documenting exotic locales and archetypal characters. In El Mundo's sixth issue, Becerril followed in Lobato's footsteps with a current affairs report about the Zaragoza Battalion's hoisting of the flag in Puebla. In the same issue there was a photo-reportage about the English Fair, shot in Mexico City by the Schlattman brothers who, in the ninth issue, published December 30th, 1894, presented a formal narrative report which documented an ascent of the PopocatĂŠpetl in seven numbered photographs. The sequence is only exceptional with regard to the commercial medium of "vistas" of trips to exotic places whose stereoscopic versions companies such as Underwood and Underwood Publishers, or the more locally renowned Clarence Withe, distributed. But the medium they were destined to would gradually define their format, cropping and composition, thus creating a specifically journalistic style of photography. In the same vein as Lobato, Becerril and the Schlattmans, the Torres brothers-natives of Toluca 185


residing in Mexico City-documented an homage to Independence heroes in photographs published August 4th, 1895. On his part, José María Lupercio shot the president's outings in his native state of Jalisco. But El Mundo's most sought-after photographer was Octaviano de la Mora, also a native of Jalisco, who studied in Paris and was Lupercio's teacher, and who by then worked in Mexico City and advertised the following: "Photography, Truth and Beauty. Specialized in children."9 Actually, De la Mora also documented President Díaz's activities around town, and this allegiance could be the reason why he had more pictures published than anyone else. For the record: on January 6th, 1895, a publicity photograph appears for the first time in the Mexican press, accompanying an ad for the Great Puerto de Veracruz Clothing Stand. For the first two years, El Mundo experienced a sort of photographic frenzy and featured practically no hand-drawn illustrations, except for Carlos 'Patitas' Alcalde's sporadic contributions. The fever waned in 1896 and 1897 when José María Villasana, Eugenio Olvera, Jesús Martínez Carrión and Alcalde himself resolved to reconquer the spaces drawing had lost. Their novel style forswore the litho pencil and explored the possibilities of halftone appropriated from photography; feeling threatened by photographers, they exploited the possibilities of naturalism to extremes. They also combined both media, cutting out photographs to lend them the rounded contours that were in fashion at the time and adding Art Nouveau patterns wher186

ever possible, in the first creative page layouts of the formative period of Mexican press photography. Soon afterwards the camera and the brush learned to coexist in harmony. Drawing specialized in caricatures, humor, folklore, headlines and patterns. Photography was the medium of choice in the case of current events reports, where catastrophes and institutional events, such as anniversaries, openings and military maneuvers, were the predominant subject matter. Photographic portraits of illustrious men and beautiful women, people wearing traditional outfits and "artistic" snapshots were also printed. Furthermore, photographers developed specialties: Lupercio's pictorialist studies and landscapes were unsurpassed- in an article dated November 15th, 1913, the magazine praised his seascapes, stating that even "a painter would not frown upon" them; the Torres brothers adopted the Art Nouveau aesthetic and Manuel Ramos, the most modern of them all, demonstrated his skills with back-lit shots, street photography and sport pictures, such as those of horses jumping at the Peralvillo race track, which the paper captions as "El Mundo Ilustrado snapshots, taken at one thousdndth of a second."'o There were curious news items such as the one appearing on July 16th, 1905, which describes how a colossal Stokernos-brand vacuum cleaner, a car-size French apparatus, was used to clean the National Palace's rugs, tapestries and curtains. Photography contests were also announced, such as the one entitled "Head of the Studio," in which the brothers Valleto & Co., Emilio


Lange, José María Lupercio and Isaac Moreno won prizes. " In issue number twenty-six, published on July 30th, 1895, El Mundo stated that it had five thousand subscribers and that for business to remain feasible it needed two to three thousand more; thus it promised improvements and announced its move to Mexico City. Halftone photoengraving had successfully passed the test of commercial acceptation. The boom of ilustrados or "illustrated" magazines then began in Mexico, spearheaded by Spíndola's publication. Though magazines had borne illustrations before, the moniker arose from the fact that the new technique opened the door to new graphic possibilities. I am not speaking of halftone per se-which could be achieved with very good results by means of hand-drawing and lithography-but of the publication of photographs. A true revolution took place in terms of the reproduction of images, as what could only be accomplished by chemical methods before could then be done mechanically. In the first two decades of the twentieth century, several magazines followed in El Mundo's footsteps, incorporating photoengravings to their pages: informative tabloid-size publications such as El Tiempo Ilustrado, a weekly magazine run by Victoriano Agüeros which began publication in 1900 and featured photos by F. L. Clarke, the Schlattman brothers, the Valleto brothers, Manuel Carrillo, Lange and Ramos, among others; Arte y Letras, a monthly publication run by Ernesto Chavero, which appeared in

1904 and published photos by Lupercio, Valleto, Kampfner, Clarke, Uribe and Agustín Víctor Casasola, among others. Many more magazines with a similar format and characteristics were published: Semanario Literario Ilustrado, Arte Musical, Revista Social Ilustrada, Revista Quincenal Ilustrada and México Industrial. Though it only

came out by 1917, the magazine Tricolor stood out for the quality of its paper and printing and for the well-registered three colorplate prints which lent it its name. Its editor, Julio Sesto, included in its pages photographs by Guillermo Kahlo, Eduardo Melhado, Jesús Arriaga and Hugo Brehme. A series of smaller magazines focused on photographs as their primary content while texts were relegated to but a few pages printed on inferior-quality papero Among them we find La Semana Ilustrada, another publication of Chavero's launched in 1909, which was the first to display the bad habit of not giving its extremely prolific photographer credit; Novedades, from 1911, first published by Pedro Marroquín and then by Enrique Uhthoff, which at first printed photographs by Antonio Garduño and Pedro de la Llata and then by Samuel Tinoco; La Ilustración Semanal from 1913, in which Ezequiel Álvarez Tostado, Tagle de Aguilar and Lupercio, among others, published their work; La Ilustración Nacional, from 1917 with photos by Garduño and José María Lupercio who by then was living in the capital and had introduced his younger brother Abraham to the trade; and El Universal Ilustrado, a weekly founded in 1917 run by Félix 187


Vo Palavicini and then Javier Sorondo, and finally by Carlos Noriega Hope, in which photographer Carlos Muñana Jr. published his work and where Lupercio was put in charge of a groundbreaking section of photographic comic strips I will get back to later on in this articleo Dailies also began to incorporate photographs to their pageso It seems Agüeros's El Tiempo was the first to employ them,'2 printing them by means of a dot screeno But it was at Spíndola's E/Imparcial where technical innovations revolutionized the newspaper industry-it was equipped with a high-speed rotary press, linotype machines, a mechanized folder and, of course, a photoengraving workshopo It was at this daily, founded in 1896, where photography occupied from the outset a preponderant placeo Ellmparciars first photo-journalist was Mo Romero Ibañezo 13 A quick review of the first quarter century of press photoengravings shows us that while portraiture and presumptuous art" photographs were self-sufficient, unitary pieces which aspired to become immortal, modest and ephemeral press photographs were by their very nature redundant and plural, as they almost aiways consisted of series of multiple 11

188

shotso Photographic reports-whether analytical and descriptive or sequential and narrative-were backed by texl.5: literary supports which cóuld either be extensive articles or brief captionso Our press's first photographic accounts were documentary: chronicles of current events in which each snapshot's timeliness and intrinsic value-what we might call the image's staging-are of prime importance, but where the pieces' assembly into a whole is the decisive phase of the process, as photoreportage deals aboye all with the staging of the printed pageo There are examples of entire stories told in a single frame, but they are extreme cases, exceptions to an iconic discourse where what counts is the spatial-temporal diversity of the snapshots, their symbiosis with text and the distribution of both of these on the printed pageo An intimate assemblage which creates an original language and new codes of reading o Vo The Camera of Fantasies We hove not come to engoge in competition or become in volved in politic5 [000]' our only goal i5 laughtero El Mundo (omico, number 1, October 1897 0

"Our Mundo Ilustrado was becoming

too serious with the arrival of pessimists who write verses to dead muses and lost illusions and suffer from dyspepsia, and this seemed almost disrespectful of a national


disposition which is by nature comical and fond of farces." 4 The author of "Pasas por el abismo mis tristezas" and a dyspeptic poet if there ever was one, Amado Nervo, biting his tongue, wrote the former in his introduction to El Mundo Cómico weekly, which he rano In the 1890s, the turbulent century's political passlons began to dissipate and alongside militant illustrated publications such as El Hijo del Ahuizote-in whlch Daniel Cabrera and Jesús Martínez Carrion rallied in service of the cause with their pens and other tools of their trade-, weeklies appeared which featured either decorous or erotic humor: Frégoli, founded in 1896 by José Coudurier, and Gil Bias Cómico, launched by Francisco Montes in 1897. That same year, Rafael Reyes Spíndola, by then the owner of the newspapers El Imparcial, El Mundo and El Mundo Ilustrado, entered the realm of both decorous and erotic humor with El Mundo Cómico, a free supplement given to El Mundo's subscribers. The magazine became

independent in 1898, its name changed to El Cómico and then simply Cómico when Pedro Escalante Palma replaced Nervo as its director. If El Mundo-Iater renamed El Mundo IIustrado-was the cradle of narrative photo-reportage, El Mundo Cómico-Iater El Cómico and Cómico-marked the origin of fictional narrative photography, a genre which at first served to illustrate literary accounts and then became autonomous from text or reduced the latter's role to that of simple captions. On El Mundo Comico's pages, unlike those of other humoristic weeklies, illustrators such as Santiago Hernández, Carlos Alcalde, María Luisa Ross, Eugenio Olvera and Julio Ruelas shared space with photographers such as Lange, Lupercio, Ramos and the siblings Felipe, Manuel and Victoria Torres. The photos, printed in monochrome or in three-color separations, vied for space on the cover page with drawings, were used for display initials and

189


contended with drawn vignettes as illustrations to articles. El Mundo Cómico popularized historic photographs, such as that of Benito juárez taken by Valleto in 1868, "a novelty for most of our readers, as photographs of juárez himself are rare and can only be found in the possession of very few people,"'5 juxtaposing them with frivolous street reports such as the Instantáneas de la Semana, tabloid chronicles, publicity shots and advertisements for the Torres, the Schlattmans and Lange's photo studios. Nor was there a lack of moderately piquant images in poetic-erotic supplements, a genre christened the Album Artístico. Well versed in naughtiness, they advertised and distributed "Artistic photographs, splendid life-studies, beautiful Parisian sites and women. We will send samples, 4x5-inch or stereoscopic, for a cost of one Mexican peso or more. R. Gennert, 89 c. Fauby sto Martin, Paris (sic), or care of: this newspaper's administration. "'6 just as the weekly's illustrators moved from isolated images to sequential vignettes, making inroads into narrative, photographers also used sequences to illustrate literary narrations or tell purely visual stories. If the narrative ramblings of end-of-the-century illustrators was based on a nineteenth-century tradition while simultaneously elaborating a new genre of comic strip, the storytelling vocation of photographers sowed the seed of the photo-novella: a genre which, as we will see, has its own history and is not born, as it is said, in 1947 as a derivation of cinema during the boom of hand-drawn comic strips. 190

Appearing in April of 1898, Una gran noticia, a story acted out by zarzuela singer Enrique Labrada, was one of the first bonafide photographic narratives made in Mexico. If we take into account its use of captions and the way its frames were la id out, it could be said to have employed the language of hand-drawn, nineteenth-century comic strips, which in turn relied upon Spanish aleluyas or Catalan aucas, prints depicting stories explained by rhyming couplets. By incorporating a new device such as the telephone into the storyline as a symbol of modernity, and employing a theater actor to act out the verbal pun, it shows how the development of sketches-and, later, film gags-paralleled that of humoristic comic strips on paper, whether the latter were hand-drawn or made up of photographs. It seems the story's "snapshots" had been "taken for El Cómico" by Lange or the Torres brothers who by then were the weekly's most soughtafter photographers and to whom many of the narrations it published can be attributed. Sometimes credited to the Torres brothers and otherwise to Lange, these narrations were sequences of two or three posed images which illustrated literary stories. As their studios lacked the necessary props to stage issues number one and five of La Profesa, the natives of Toluca, as well as the Swedish photographer, used furniture from a store named La Crisantema, lending their stagings the varied, realistic look missing from the studio shots of models posing against painted backdrops amongst scarce furnishings. There were even more


creative narrations than that of La Profesa, for instance a sequence of six photographs, all of them exterior shots, which illustrated Angel del Campo's (alias Micrós or, in this case, Tick Tack) folkloric tale of "Don Luz Ripalda,"17 and another series of three photographs entitled Decepción" narrating the story of an unemployed man bearing no more text than brief explanatory notes. At the beginning of the twentieth century, imitations of El Cómico beca me widespread: light, humorous publications such as Frivolidades, by Manuel Larrañaga y Portugal and La Risa, run by José F. Elizondo. The latter featured slightly risqué photographic strips in a "modern style" of page layout. Political satire and whimsical or erotic humor were characteristic of the "small-format press," while tabloid-size weeklies such as El Mundo Ilustrado were less given to comicality and thus rarely featured fictional narrative photography.'9 However, El Mundo Ilustrado did publish photographic comic strips from abroad -for instance, a textless strip entitled En el pecado ... 20 made by Arriaga-as well as other variants of narrative photography, such as Lange's reportage on Italian singer Rosalía Chalía 21 which consists of a sequence of nine photos with captions in Italian that summarize the story of Giordano's opera Fedora, or the didactic photographic comic strip in twelve shots which shows us how to make a bra. 22 In Arte y Letras, R. Peón del Valle illustrated a story with a sequence of retouched photographs,23 and the very conservative El Tiempo Ilustrado published a crime story in which three of the images depict a

reenactment by the police of irascible poet Salvador Díaz Mirón shooting the politician Chapital. 24 VI. Belittled What is certain, what is undeniable is that the photo-novella reaches far beyond the confines of the women's press. Although lit

is also true that] it enters the realm of mass culture trembling, ecstatic and blushing ... Fernando Curiel, Mal de ojo.

We were tricked. Theorists and chroniclers of the literature of the image tricked uso When Román Gubern states that "Photo-novellas [ ... ] were born [ ... ] in Italy in 1947, based on the "film-novella," i.e. on the narration of a film script through a selection of stills, ordered and laid out for a sequential reading, and to which explicative texts or dialogues are superimposed, to facilitate the reconstruction of the narrative," the definitive specialist unintentionally distorts reality. And when he further remarks that "in this way Italy became the world capital of the genre,"25 he robs us of welldeserved credit. Gubern confounds history with a commercial event: the success of editors such as Rizzoli, Mondari and del Duca in popularizing romantic photographic narrative should not be equated with the genesis of an iconic language, like that of the photonovella, whose origins lie in nineteenth-century narrative press photography which develops at the same time as hand-drawn comic strips during the twentieth century, and which foreruns the appearance of fictional film by many years. Why deprive such a disheartened people as ours so very much in need of rewards the well-deserved merit 191


of having ventured into the photonovella genre at least eleven years before 1947, and of having invented in 1943 the narrative photomontage or photographic comic strip, which-no small feat in itself-we popularized in all of Latin America? Gubern's statements are truly unforgivable ... I have already mentioned examples of Mexican photographic comic strips, such as Una gran noticia (in El Comico, 1898) and En el pecado (El Mundo Ilustrado, 1908). But these are isolated pieces. On the other hand, the photographic comic strip entitleq Película Semana?6 which Lupercio published beginning in SeptembPr of 1921 in Carlos Noriega's weekly El Universal Ilustrado did hold the promise of continuity. In his choice of title, Lupercio-or the anonymous writer of the captions that underscored the visual narration-alluded to film, a medium at the height of fashion in those years; but the short text, much of it in dialog form, bore more of a kinship with theatrical sketch es than with the silent film comedies of the time. In this same vein we find the humorous stories photographed by Ismael Casasola which appeared in the very first issues of the magazine Hoy, founded in February of 1937 and run by Regino Hernández Llergo. The series was entitled La historia supergrafica and actors such as Alejandro Chianguerotti, singers such as the Cancioneros Quiróz and famous personalities such as José Mendez, 'The Man with the Big Tie,' posed for the pictures. Up to this point, what we have are still short stories, without speech bubbles and narrated by means of 192

captions-photographic comic strips but not yet photo-novellas. However, the series which was first published on September 29th, 1936, in issue 191 of Francisco Sayrols's weekly Sucesos para Todos can be considered a genuine photo-novella. La herencia maldita was an action-packed police story, with a ubiquitous "to be continued" caption and a profusion of speech bubbles. It consisted of five episodes, a total of ten pages and sixty vignettes. The only credit appearing in print is to Publicaciones Otero, leading us to believe that the photo-novella was yet another product of the Estudios Otero, a company which sold stories by José G. Cruz, Guillermo Marín and Arturo Casillas, among others, to publisher Francisco Sayrols. In the opinion of illustrator Francisco Galindo, Mr. Otero was a comic-strip "coyote:" "He had his own team of cartoon artists whose work he bought and would then go sell for a higher price. He kept his illustrators starving for cash ... Mr. Otero was a real shark." 7 Though his ethic.s might have been dubious, Otero does have the merit of having produced and sold a bona-fide photo-novella for publication in one of the time's most successful magazines, eleven years befo re the great Italian publishers populariled the genre's romantic version. Two relevant facts: La herencia maldita is not a romantic photonovella but a criminal one; moreover, certain vignettes display collage, retouching and black outlines. These characteristics foreshadow the two great canonical genres of Mexican narrative fiction:


the crime-story photo-novella and photomontage. With regard to crime-story photo-novella, its erotic variant first appeared on May 29th, 1954 in the sugary, saucy pages of Vodevil. A text introduced the sequence of fashionable nudes: "He gazed ecstatically at that charming woman's beautiful, protuberant breasts. Her pointy nipples jutted out, taut and hard, and he admired them, unaware that all this formed part of a sinister plan designed to ruin him. This was a work of ambition, it was ... A WOMAN'S TREACHERY."

Photomontage in its comic-strip form would be born seven years after La herencia maldita, the brainchild of an illustrator from Jalisco who doubtlessly knew Otero and had read his groundbreaking photo-novella-in the mid-1930s he had also worked with publisher Francisco Sayrols producing comics that were a mix of horror and police stones for the magazine Paquín. The illustrator's name was José G. Cruz and Santo El Enmascarado de P:ata was his most popular photomontage. VII. Our Doctor Frankenstein His book is enigmatic, inexplicable; it is a chimera, the face of a beautiful woman with a serpent s twl or the feet of another more deforrr>ed and cunning beast. Jean de la Bruyere, Caracteres, 1864.

In 1978, when El Santo sent the illustrator, writer and publisher José Guadalupe Cruz to jail, suing him for copyright over his comic strip, he knew he was responsible for incarcerating the father of Mexican photo-comics. He knew this but did

not care since Cruz had cast a pumped-up gym enthusiast in the wrestler's role. "A faggot has taken my place!"'· the 'Man with the Silver Mask' exclaimed indignantly. El Santo did not understand that the impersonation, imposture and subversion of appearances by means of various devices is not a crime, and that, in fact, José G. Cruz's art consisted of these very things. He did not understand that montage-as this is what we are dealing with-is not a minor issue but the primordial medium of representation, the natural recourse of our collective imagination. The ability to change a fortuitous or calculated encounter with the pre-existing into something completely new is what differentiates Hamo sapiens from apes. If this process deals with words the result is poetry, if it deals with images, collage, and if with vignettes, a comic strip. And if they are natural forces endowed with a human will we call it animism or simply religion. Why? Because the minotaur, the sphinx and the chimera are montages. So are Quetzalcóatl and the Coatlicue. So is the El Santo we see in the ring and even more so, the other El Santo beefed up, rebuilt from scraps and resewn by José G. Cruz. Duringthe 1940sand 1950~ successful illustrators were very much in the spotlights and Cruz was one of the best and most popular. His career as a comic book illustrator began in 1934 with Sayrols's Paquín, though soon afterwards he joined Colonel García Valseca's tea m, achieving his greatest success in Pinocho and Pepín in the 1940s. Cruz was not a skilled draughtsman, 193


academically speaking. Nor did he need to be: his line drawings are forceful and consistent, he wrote his own--convincing-scripts and he overflowed with graphic and literary creativity. Cruz was a draughtsman by trade, and if in the early 1940s he began to work with photographs and other borrowed graphic elements, it was for the sake of expediency. At first he made Italianstyle film-novellas with stills and superimposed bubbles. In 1942 he made Noche de Ronda based on Ernesto Cortázar's song, and in 1943 he presented María Félix in a comic book adaptation of Fernando de Fuentes's story Doña Bárbara; he also adapted Edmund Goulding's Till Death 00 Us Part, among others. That year is when photomontages first made their appearance in Pinocho y Pepín, but to perceive them as a simple extension of comic-strip adaptations of films is an oversimplification. The first illustrators who employed photographs to tell stories were Ramón Valdiosera, who produced Pókar de Ases for Pinocho in 1943, Francisco Flores, who in some installments of Gitanillo de Pepín substituted his

magnificent drawings far photographs and other kinds of illustrations, and aboye all José G. Cruz, who that same year used the same technique to create Tango, Carta Brava, Encrucijada, Revancha, Remolino, Tenebral and Adorable espejismo, to mention but a few. AII three of them were draughtsmen and only Cruz had made filmnovellas. But, moreover, the language was revolutionized in the transition from one genre to another. The filmnovella was an extension of the pamphlets bearing film stories from the early twentieth century; in another sense, it was also a variant of the photographic comic book, which had first appeared in the nineteenth century. Photomontage was something altogether different, and identifying it with its simpleminded brethren is like mistaking a tatz for a cru, theater with a lampshade acto The photomontage of the different versions of the magazine Pepín was not the work of photographers but rather of illustrators: narrative draughtsmen who used photographs and other borrowed images to save time and add to the strength of their images. In Cita en Macambo, made in 1943, Cruz limited himself to mixing newspaper cutouts, film


stills and all sorts of pre-existing materials; when he did begin to employ original photos, they were posed portraits photographed by such collaborators as Miguel and Micaela Gloria and José Duharte. Once the photos were printed, Cruz cut them out, retouched and added to them until he had achieved the desired effect. The result of his drastic intervention is very distant indeed from photographic verismo The 1940s version of Pepín is paradoxical-the comic-strip Don Proverbio, drawn by the father of the halftone, Antonio Gutiérrez, seems more naturalistic and photographic than Cruz's photocompositions. The making of photo graphic comic books required teamwork. José G. Cruz, who at first did it all by himself, later worked only on the script and made sure the inimitable look of his strips was preserved. Menial were then carried out by-among others-Jesús Santillán, an expert in costume and lighting, Benjamín López, a specialist in scenography and documentation, Miguel Gloria, the photographer, and Álvaro Escalante, who drew the texts. Roberto Romaña (in Carta Brava) and Carlos Ortiz Sánchez (in El hombre de las mil caras) were actors used to working for photomontage. With time, Cruz's

collaborators, such as Manuel del Valle, became team leaders and made their own photographic comic strips. The same is true of Santillán and López who, joining forces with scriptwriter Leonel Guillermoprieto, formed Artistas Unidos, a company which supplied photocompositions to Garda Valseca's magazines. Miguel Gloria, "a photographer exclusive to Pepín" was a professional, but Del Valle, Santillán and López were draughtsmen-cumphotomontage-artists, and it seems surprising that all three would have collaborated with Antonio Gutiérrez on Don Proverbio's semi-photographic half-tones. Garda Valseca was photomontage's greatest promoter. On the other hand, Ignacio Herrerías's daily Chamaco did not display any work done in this technique. In the 1950s, the bi-weekly Figuras took up the genre again, publishing work by López, del Valle and the Araiza brothers' fascinating work. During that same decade, Cruz himself reissued some of his classics in Muñequita in addition to publishing original photocompositions. Cruz's photomontages were a great success. Tango, one of his first, was reissued five times in the


1940s and 1950s, and in 1949 a film adaptation of it by Jesús Urueta appeared under the title Dos almas en el mundo. What film critic El Duende Filmo wrote about Cruz as a scriptwriter could be applied to all illustrators' narrations: "Spiritually, it bears a kinship with Xavier de Montepín, Ponson du Terrail and other tacky novelists of that epoch." In addition to having written the script, Cruz played heroin Emilia Guiú's boyfriend, and also participated in the advertising campaign-five days befo re the premiere, a summary of the script made with film stills and bubbles appeared in the press. And thus we come full circle, as film-novel las created as advertisements can be seen as the transcription to comicstrip form of a movie which in turn is an adaptation of a photomontage, the proverbial successor of film-novellas. When in Italy the transition from film-novella to photo-novella had barely commenced, Mexlcan photomontage artists were already turning back in the other direction, making films out of their stories. And not only did they transfer the strip, characters and actors to the screen, they also transcribed their way of telling the story. Emilio García Riera writes the following about Carta Brava: " ... technically, the film did not follow the form of Hollywood movies as much as that of the comic-strip itself; in the final shootout, for instance, each character had to wait his turn to shoot, as if posing for a [ ... ] still photograph [ ... ]." Created in 1943 in Gama Valseca's magazines, narrative photomontage took on a 196

protagonical role in our dlfferent versions of Peptn during the 1940s and 1950s; its popularity waned in the 1960s and it was replaced by photo-novellas in the 1970s. Photocomposition lent our comic-strips an identity. At its best moments, the baroque and delirious assemblage of photography and drawing transgressed the established order as an affront to classicism. Like winged elephants, dog-faced baboons, centaurs, harpies, unicorns, mermaids and griffons, photomontage is a hybrid, a "monstrous mix," an "unclean corruption," as la Bruyere said of Rabelais's books. And thus, hybrid, deformed, excentric, Mexican photocompositions are our greatest, unnoted contribution to the world of comic stnps. NOTES Danielo Barbaro. La practica della perspecttlva, Ven ice: 1568. Quoted In

Douglas Davls, Photographyas Fine Art, HIII and Company, 1982, p. 8. El Mundo, tome 1, number 26, July

14th,1895. Humberto Musacchlo, La fotografla de prensa. Apuntes para un arbol genealogico,

In

KIOSCO,

year 111, number 3, flrst

trimester 01 1992. Olivler Debrolse, Fuga mexicana. Un reCOrrido por la fotografla de Mexlco.

Mexico City: CONACULTA, 1994, p. 146. The text is not very clear regarding titles, as the magazine the author relers to is actually El Mundo, Semanario Ilustrado, first published in Puebla in 1894, two years before the daily El Mundo was published in Mexico City. Later, when the magazine resumed publication after a hiatus, it was renamed El Mundo Ilustrado.


In photo 3, the father begins to take off his clothes. In photo 4, the son is already wearing the father's shirt, as the latter continues to undress. In photo 5, the father, nude, and the son, dressed, embrace each other in reconciliation. The least significant element in "The Return" is its broad utilization of Christianity; what is truly important are the ideas or reactions the work occasions in each spectator. What do we have befo re us: a heterodox version of the Bible, a father who will imitate his son and leave the house, a series of incomprehensible symbols, a narrative which is only formed in memory? The answer to the question depends on the interpretive stance of the person considering the work; the fable is sustained by the virtuosity of the images, a virtuosity of intelligence. Michals is drawn to homoerotic parables, which turn masculine beauty into a simultaneously elemental and transcendental phenomenon, a reality and an allegory which photography democratizes without losing its own mystery, a call for the normalization of desire. In his series "How Nice to Watch You Take a Bath," in photo 1 a naked young man with his back to us dries himself with a towel. In photos 2 through 5, he meticulously continues this task. This sequence, a refiguring of voyeurism, marks the contrasts between the protagonist, indifferent to the outside gaze, and the play of light that comes from the open bathroom door. The light functions to exalt an unfolding of the sensual. In his series "Homage to Cavafy," Michals, in order to invigorate his admiring evocation of

the great Greek poet, makes use of one of his best innovations: the texts accompanying the photos are in no way complementary, nor are they merely descriptive. Always working against the current, Michals's notes direct us towards unexpected paths, proposing a different mode of reflection. In photo 1, a young man alone in his room contemplates three blurred projections from his memory: the first is of him, looking melancholy, the second is of a naked shadow, and the third, more precise, is of another naked young man, simuitaneously near and inaccessible. The text states: "Portrait of Constantin Cavafy haunted by the phantom of his desire." In photo 2, the now-mature poet, standing at the window of a room in complete disorder, with books and papers all over the floor, examines a young man's hand. The text is a Cavafy quote: "1 could see it quite clearly in his palm. There would be a terrible tragedy. My love could not protect him." In photo 3, a half-naked young man lights the cigarette of a seated young mano The text is informative: "Just to light his cigarette was a great pleasure." In Photo 4, a fat, unkempt Cavafy contemplates the portrait of aman of 35 or 40, very likely the poet himself, while a cat watches uso The text states: "When he was a young man, it seemed impossible that he would ever grow old. Now that he is old, he cannot remember ever having been young." At first sight the series seems disconnected, and, except for the quotes, bears hardly any relation to Cavafy. In my view, however, it is deeply related to Cavafy's work, and to the painfully evoked loves and 199


isolation of the Alexandrian poet. I believe that within this series we can locate the isolation, the implacable meditations, the mode by which aesthetic redemption (rationality) destroys any moral culpability of desire. "If it happens beautifully and we are both willing, it isn't immoral, or at the very least our encounter wasn't." This conclusion, however, is completely my own. Michals does not propose it, he merely invites the reader (the spectator) to formulate her or his own narrative. What is clear is the Iyrical emphasis, the way infinite variants governed by the logic of poetry are made possible within the unfolding of these images. For Michals, poetry (the other visual order) exists in everything, but without rigorous preparation it goes unperceived. Perhaps it can be glimpsed in a street pick-up or a beaten-down angel's visit to a sleeping young mano Perhaps Narcissus is able to seduce his own image in the pond and, if he's lucky, ends up having sex with the image by the end f the sequence. The Passerby Nacho López: like a dream at the comer where the collective unconscious and the Eje Central' meet Nacho López -educated, when all is said and done, as a visual journalisttrusted in the dictates of chance and maneuvered in the field of the heteroerotic with joy and delight. His work frequently recuperates what is most enjoyable or most poetic in any given day. He would spend many hours in the street, after sharpening his gaze so that he might discover situations to which 200

he could impart a realist or surrealist interpretation. Thus, in one sequence, he followed a young man (very likely a warehouse worker) who traversed the city with a mannequin, until he finally landed at a pulquería. 2 In another series, a young woman -"extremely elegant"- walks through a downtown Mexico City neighborhood at the end of the 1940s or the beginning of the 1950s. Unavoidably, the series recalls a detail from the popular culture of that era, a bolero which admonishes: "No salgas niña

a la calle,! porque el viento fementido/ jugando con tu vestido/ puede dibujar tu talle.'" Without seeming to be aware of it at all, the young woman endures her visual framing, our optic cannibalism. A believer in the fortuitous, in each of his series Nacho follows the rules generated by the first photo, combining unequivocal occurrences with overtly surreal atmospheres, becoming excited by the possibilities of the narrative because he trusts his own urban experience. The admiring hoards in pursuit of the girl on the street, for example, can easily be dated, and correspond to an era of macho pride in the hunter's exploits. "¡Qué buena estás, mamacita!'" the erotic conquistador would call out, and everyone would laugh while reaffirming the rights of the macho. These days, with machismo on the defensive, the sense of tribal kinship reflected in this series seems either merely historical, or becomes something completely different, the eroticization of the street as a hipswinging fable, of sexual hunger and that great fa¡;:ade of sexual hunger, the libidinous whistle.


"iQué bonita chaparrita! Valía más

que se muriera."5 Nacho López is so original, so full of vitality, that the attempt to situate him results in his being considered "picturesque," one thing he definitely is not; his work is concerned neither with the easily identifiable nor with the anecdotal, but rather with the passion for singular events without antecedents and without consequences. López is not an eccentric, nor is he exactly a realist, and since his work does not make use of visual prejudices, a new city landscape can be clearly imagined; for this reason his sequences, at first so "exotic," can within just a few years become part of our intimate worlds. Nacho López's series arise in order to point to an act of good fortune: in the street, the photographer enacts the ritual of anthropophagy in which he rips people's clothes open with his gaze; in the street, the photographer follows the young man who clings to the mannequin as if it had beco me his domestic partner. The results of the photographer's patience and obstinacy surprise him also. And the definitive proof of how exceptional his sequences are is that their possibilities are not exhausted by repeated viewings. In the case of the much-desired young woman, the moral reaction of those who first saw the sequence was to comment with no great negativity on the indecency of machismo; fifty years later, things have changed to the point where such a mob scene itself seems quite ridiculous. In the case of the young man with his mannequin, "the picturesque" gives way to a poetic and anarchic

substratum, a reading of the sequence which would today be considered dominant. In the case of the woman hounded by masculine hunger, the metaphor ceas es to be realistic and becomes more "Freudian," that is, subject to the emphases of a puerile libido. In both sequences, our initial readings have disappeared and the images have beco me reinvigorated. An evaluation of Nacho López's sequence-narratives illustrates that what initially declared itself to be "visual journalism" today turns out to be a perfect combination of narrative ability and poetic training.

1 Translator's note: a number 01 long, large avenues called ejes (axes) lorm a grid over most 01 the Mexico City Metropolitan Area. The Eie Central (Central Axis) bisects the city East-West, running through many primary downtown zones. Translator's note: A pulquena is a type 01 cantina or bar where people mainly drink pulque, a variously Ilavored alcoholic beverage made 01 maguey. Translator's note: Though the rhyme and rhythm 01 the song (and thus perhaps the song itsel!) are inherently lost in translation, the content 01 the verse is as lollows: "Girl, don't go out into the street/ beca use the treacherous wind playing with your dress/ mlght just outline your ligure." • Translator's note: This phrase and the one that lollows are common street piropos, or lorms 01 llirtation/ harassment: "MomoClta, you look good!" , "What a pretty little girlie! II I can't have her, she might as well be dead."

I

II


totality of the universe. One single instant in the face of eternity. The Argentine photographer RES, in a series of images titled Sobre Borges o el enloquecimiento de la esfera de Pascal (On Borges, or The Insanity of Pascal's Sphere) recounts the story of this conflict between the One and the Multiple, between an ever-unfolding reality and one single point capable of concentrating all of totality in its most daily and immediate environs. We see Borges in the Library's Panopticon in 1968. Not even the year of Alicia D'Amico's photo is accidental. Something appears in the window. It is a sphere, a disturbing sphere which recalls Magritte's paintings. The sphere shows us various isolated elements of reality. A tiger, a cigarette butt, the sea, a seated man: these details are enough for us to intuit the entire universe, the inconceivable magnitude of the Aleph. It is no accident that the sphere would be a boleadora, that magical lasso the gauchos used to catch cattle and rheas, described in the Marttn Fierro. As in the ancient Mesoamerican ball-game, this sphere, as it spins over the horseman's head, itself represents a kind of playing with the cosmos. It seems that only through the combination of speed and the intoxication of the hunt can the gaucho make contact with the powers of the cosmos. The intoxication of the Olmec or Mayan ball-game players' sacrifices was not much different. Borges was a blind poet. Borges was a visionary. Borges moved through the world with a cane, he smiled innocently, he was

profoundly sarcastic. Borges and his sphere were frightening: they disturbed, they seduced. In his strange sequence of images, RES explores the secret underside of the Aleph's story. As in one of Escher's hypotheses, the story is also paradoxically included in these images which tell a tale of what is to come and allow us to encounter the Aleph's abundance. RES's photos owe much to Magritte, whose painting also resonates to some degree in the key of Borge~, which is the key of paradox. The best prison of all is a labyrinth. There, where there is no exterior, only walls. The Aleph allows us to watch from outside life, time, the world: the walls of the labyrinth in which we are trapped. Heraclitus would say that no one experiences the same instant twice. And nonetheless, each instant is infinite and impenetrable. A point must exist where we might see all things at once, Borges tells us. The Aleph is the key to all spaces, the imaginary mechanism which allows us to intuit totality from an outside which may be impossible but is always presento

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the layout, photographing the characters, looking for backgrounds, extras and set pieces, printing, enlarging, distorting, drying, trimming, gluing, retouching, drawing and mounting the vignettes of the ninety-six pages demanded each week by the voracious readers of the "atomic magazine." In order to do this, he organized a team of approximately twenty colleagues, including his brothers. And if Cruz entertained himself in the cabarets, Trinidad preferred the triple-feature adventure movies which were shown at the Roxy, where he went once a week, work permitting. By the end of 1952, Ediciones José G. Cruz was publishing six magazines: Muñequita, La Pandilla (The Gang), Adelíta y las gueríllas (Adelita and the Guerillas), Apariciones (Apparitions), Canciones inolvidables (Unforgettable Songs), and Santo, El Enmascarado de Plata. The press would soon move to Horacio Street, to the tallest building in the neighborhood of Polanco; there they would have a large hall with dozens of drafting tables for the illustrators, enormous cabinets for documentation, cartoons, negatives and originals, a modern photographic lab equipped with the latest technological advances, a large space for shots which required sets similar to those used in films and, of course, a dressing room and a glamorous suite/studi%ffice for the head of the company. The only draftsman who did not have to work in the main hall was José Trinidad, who had a private studio that Cruz himself took pains to decorate with the replica of a Spanish galleon which crowned the cartoonist's filing chest. To create ninety-six comic strips

weekly without sacrificing qua lity is not merely a question of imagination and creativity. The making of Santo demanded hard work, skill, organization and resourcefulness. Trinidad developed a method that would make this work possible. The luchador's many commitments in the ring and on film sets, his tours and public appearances, made it absolutely necessary to take maximum advantage of the comic strip's photography sessions and the masked fighter's various moves, flips, throws, jumps, profiles and gestures would be serialized; thanks to the enlarger, printing tricks and special effects, scissors and brushes, an extremely busy superhero was able to be ever ready for Cruz's extravagant plots. Cruz had already discovered the virtues of having a vast archive to use in his photomontages-a truly carnivalesque collection of imagesand Trinidad created a large store of photographs and cuts for Santo, which he managed with efficiency and economy. Imagine that through various different manipulations a single photograph could provide the backgrounds for an entire thirty-twopage episode! By 1957, when the luchador's historieta was at its peak, the romantic, youthful era of the company was already a thing of the pasto The mature press had become a comic-book-making factory, and its methods had been modernized. When Trinidad began to have problems with the management and their directives, he decided


to do just what Cruz had done when he left Colonel García Valseca: he became independent, founding his own press and launching the comic book Arturo de Córdova, El caballero de Itzá (Arturo of Córdova, the Knight of Itzá)-illustrated, of course, using photomontage. While Horacio Robles-one of José Trinidad's assistants, who would in time become the artistic director of Ediciones José G. Cruz-remained in charge of the Santo graphics, Trinidad moved his new studio into a building on Velázquez de León Street, in the San Rafael neighborhood. He believed that Arturo de Cordova-who as a comic-strip character descended from a long line of adventurers who always hit the mark- would be capable of outsell Santo. 11. Forty years later we arrive at the studio on Velázquez de León Street to interview José Trinidad, on the occasion of the video series Moneros

and an immense heat drum once used to dry positives, José Trinidad told us how Arturo de Córdova, el caballero de Itzá was a publishing failure that devoured the savings he had accumulated from making Santo; how he had to sell his car and land in Acapulco to settle his debts from the venture, while Cruz and Robles's Santo continued with great success. By that time, almost all of Trinidad's brothers had joined his studio: his brother Mariano and Carlos from the very beginning and, occasionally, Rafael-the family bohemian, who devoted himself to drawing the lettering for the cartoons after inventing a machine which made drinking straws out of papero The crew was completed by Arturo Romero, José Trinidad's son, and Fernando Servín, who combined his work photographing comic strips with his job at the sports magazine Esto.

Once his adventures with El

y manitos (Cartoonists and Cartoons).

caballero de Itzá had dissipated, José

By 1997, José Trinidad had survived both Cruz and Santo; by that time, also, Mexican-style comicbook photomontage was only a legend-a legend in which José Trinidad continued to have faith until his death on March 1st, 1999. Among 35mm film canisters containing entire episodes of old cartoon narratives, piles of magazines, bins full of photo clippings, drafting tables crowded with boxes, jars of ink, pens, ) pencils, litho stumps, brushes and all the various paraphernalia pertaining to his trade; between projector lenses, lamps and enlargers (discarded and in use), easels, tripods

Trinidad collaborated with Vicente Ortega Colunga in the making of La vida deslumbrante de María Felix (The Dazzling Life of María F-élix) and on Los amores íntimos de Pedro Infante

(The Intimate Loves of Pedro Infante). "That was the time when everyone in show business wanted to have their own comic book," José Trinidad told us. Even the president Adolfo López Mateos could not resist the temptation, and the photomontage illustrator would recount his biography in a photomontage magazine for the presidential campaign of 1958. In the same year, he made El charrito de oro (The Little Golden Charro) and Las aventuras de neutroncito (The Adventures of Little


Neutron) for Edar-two peculiar

photomontages which featured the boy actors Manelick and Tonatiuh de la Parra, the sons of Guillermo de la Parra and Yolanda Vargas Dulché, owners of the press. In 1967 José Trinidad made a second short-lived attempt at publishing with Sombras (Shadows), a series of "and moving love stories" illustrated with photomontage. The same year he returned to work with Cruz; he ereated episodes of Santo once again, and took charge of El valiente (The Brave), Juan sin miedo (Fearless Juan), El Plebeyo (The Common Man), and La Tigresa (The Tigress)-the latter with actress Irma Serrano as protagonist. Though Cruz never withdrew his affection for José Trinidad nor cea sed to admire his talent, the latter was no longer the darling of the press, but just one more illustrator who worked there as well as at a variety of other presses at the same time. Around the middle of the 19705, the well-Ioved genre of comic-book photomontage began to show signs of its own demise. The cultural c1imate no longer weicomed the aesthetic and narrative ingenuity which had crafted the delights of the previous generation. Though death comes slowly, it is inexorable and josé Trinidad's eraft did fall into disuse. While, for example, his brother Carlos rode the coattails of the romantic photo comic book's popularity, developing él successful career, our protagonist returned to pure drawing, though he never stopped using photographlc bases for his cartoons. Between 1980 and his death in 1999, during which time he made Hospitales for Novedades, he also worked as illustrator for

various other series, such as Minilibros (Minibooks), El libro Pasional (The Book of Passions), El libro Secreto (The Book of Secrets), El libro Semanal (Weekly Book) or Cuerpos y almas (Bodies and Souls), ever awaiting the rebirth of his beloved photomontage. Throughout his life, during which, according to his own calculations, he came to ereate more than a million pages of comic books, José Trinidad accumulated a fantastic storehouse of photographic images currently kept in a pine chest he built himself. The chest has thirty-six drawers, each one with a grid forming thirty-six compartments, each of which in turn contains various strips of negative in seemingly random order. What possible logic might follow, for example, a compartment which contains, according to the labels: Neutron, Legs, Hands, The Morales Neighborhood, The Condesa Neighborhood, Hotel Rex, Movie Theaters, Beauty Salon, Public Bus, Ambulances, Burials, Madhouse, Poorhouse, Hospice, Churches, Roofs, Museums, Stations of the Cross, The San Ángel Neighborhood, The Town of Puebla, Almoloya Prison, Hacienda La Huerta ... ? The answer lies, perhaps, in the logic of the stories which the archive humbly served, or, finally, in the logic of the thousands of stories which each image accumulates.

*Translator\ note: the Lucha Libre in Mexico is roughly equivalent to the lights staged by the World Wrestling Federation In the Umted States. A luchador, then, is a lighter/actor/acrobat who, like dny other performer, can beco me a cultural personallty. Santo was one 01 the lirst luchadores to gain a devoted lollowing whlch brought him widespread lame in Mexico.


The Aesthetic of the Photo-Novel (Fragments) jean-Claude Chirollet

â&#x20AC;˘ What is a photo-novel if not a sequence of images lending value to each image in and of itself and an important, primordial autonomy to each snapshot? This is why the photo-novel is infinitely eloser to the art of photography than to film. The script's existence is conceived in terms of the aesthetic and semantic presence of snapshots of people and objects which inhabit each image's frame. In well constructed photo-novels, the script is often minimal, to the point of obviating the need for dialog or monologue, or even of notes regarding the characters' situations and inner experience. Just as film manages to link up in a coherent way all of a sequence's shots by means of the internal logic of acting-even if this logic is purely fictitious or paradoxical-, photo-novels (and especially those that we could call artistic) reject the value of continuity to elevate the ruptures between images to the status of a procedure which creates aesthetic meaning. Popular photo-novels do not attempt to reappropriate the elassical techniques of image-linkage and development which attempts to stimulate a continuous arousal, as in the case of film. Rather, the photo-novel refutes such an idea of evanescent mobility. Each shot cultivates the calculated art of the pose; each frame defines the field of a meditation on the psychology of the characters and on the discontinu~us

212

reason for the spatial positioning of an object, a gesture or an attitude. While in film it is impossible to go back to contemplate an abstract still, in photo-novels it is the unceasing confrontations between images which impose the most pertinent mode of reading. Time is somehow suspended throughout the photographic scapes, and the term snapshot recovers its metaphysical meaning, a meaning by which it designates a depthless and almost immaterial portio n of historical time. Photograms are infused with atemporal meaning. â&#x20AC;˘ The image in photo-novels is by nature metaphorical as objects are presented in their realistic excess; the poses are excessive due to the artifice of the mask which compels them to signify, to express archetypes or provoke sta tes of mind which lead to critical reading and the will to sublimate appearances. Scenes are apparently elear, devoid of mystery, almost neutral. They generally allow for a kind of immediate recognition of situations, of the way things are. â&#x20AC;˘ The photo-novel forms a whole, a elosed world, a micro-sphere of life which ineludes all feelings, all joys, all troubles (or almost all!), all the phases of the natural ups and downs of universal beings who are able to feel the whole range of affections that are part of social life. Each photonovel is first and foremost presented like an incitement to enter a microcosm full of magic and dreams. The actors' alluring eyes are themselves a metaphorical figuration of this wonderful microcosmo


Antonio Caballero's Jet-Set Alfonso Morales

Fate, which giveth and taketh away, made it so that the photograph which brought Antonio Caballero fame no longer has a place in the historical archives -archives which precisely because of his work have taken a different turn, changing both residence and fortune. Thirty-seven years after the dazzling icon which originated in the body of Norma Jean would visit Mexico City, the photographer still has an exact memory of the instant when he was able to verify that the star wasn't Iying when she said that the only thing she wore to bed was her Chanel Number 5. Marilyn Monroe, who bought masks, tasted the tortillas at El Taquito and added a Chiconcoac sweater to her wardrobe as she traveled through Mexico, had only a few weeks of life left. Antonio Caballero (Mexico City, January 17, 1940) was at that time a freelance photographer for the newspaper Cine Mundial (World Cinema), a

publication which specialized in the inner circles of show business. That February 22 of 1962 Caballero arrived, with his colleagues José Luis Mújica and Mario Marzanto, at the Hilton Hotel's Viceregal Hall to cover the only press conference in which the star of The Seven-Year Itch could be seen. "It was a chaos of photographers, cameramen, radio and print reporters, people who had sneaked in. It was past 3:30 in the afternoon and Marilyn hadn't

appeared. We were ready to leave but the head of Public Relations stopped us: "No, please don't go." So reluctantly, we stayed. Finally, Marilyn came out of a service elevator escorted by two bodyguards. We went up to her, surrounding her. I told my companions we should move towards the back, that we were going to take studio-style photos, but no one paid any attention to me. In the uproar I found myself at her feet and had no choice but to remain seated there. They had set up a pretty little bench, a small table and some drinks. It was when they were serving her champagne that I shot the photo in which I caught her crossing her legs. It was a lucky photo." The image which upon being developed and printed showed the most renowned flashing in the history of Mexican photojournalism (see Luna Córnea #12) was first published with a sticker over the "pubic area" as a limited edition of gift copies and later disappeared. According to Caballero, the negative was in the hands of his colleague Marzano, and later was passed on to Raúl "El Negro" Isunza and finally to a certain 5ervín, who worked at El Sol de México and El Nacional, and who claimed to have lost it. Monroe was not the only beauty Caballero had at such close range, nor was his immodest portrait the only photo to have led 213


him off the beaten path -especially given the way he was forced to move around after the 1985 earthquake. Aficionado of the movie newscasts shown at the Capitolio or Briseño Cinemas which gave him the chance to travel virtually in Africa while chewing caramels, photography came into his life by way of a Brownie Fiesta camera his stepfather had bought and, primarily, because his family shared a housing complex in the Guerrero neighborhood with a very good-Iooking dressmaker -María Sánchez Castaneda- who later would marry U-~ photo-reporter Héctor García, nicknamed "El Ciclotron" (The Cyclotron). "María knew about my enthusiasm for photography and she proposed that I work with Héctor. I started with the 'tremendous' salary of five pesos a week. And I worked for him as an errand boy, car-washer and anything el se that came along. The office was at Reforma 12 #503 and was called García Fotopress. I lasted three months like that, with that salary. I tried to quit a number of times but he always called me back again. Really, he was a good teacher and a very special person to me. Very affectionate and very tyrannical both." Then supplied with a Retina 11 camera, purchased when his mother pawned a Majestic radio, the young Caballero worked with Antonio "El Indio" Velazquez on the magazines Guerra al Crimen, Revista de Policía and Nota Roja. In these gazettes dedicated to urban misfortune, Reinaldo 214

Aguirre Miranda, a lieutenant colonel and fighter pilot during the Revolution, taught Caballero to write about issues related to crime and blood -a colloquial style which, according to Miranda, the reporter Matarili would then take up as his own in the second edition of Ovaciones. At the same time he tried his luck as a sports photographer for the International News Service agency. From penitentiaries and morgues he moved on to threepiece-suited official political ceremonies, publishing his work in various newspapers and magazines: La Hora de Mexico, La Cal/e, Cronica, Monona, Revista de America, Revista de Revistas, and Jueves de Excels/Or.

Photographer of whatever was needed, whether fashion, architecture or "social interest" stories, Antonio Caballero decided to specialize in show business and switched, starting in 1955, to working principally with Cine Mundial. "The magazine was founded by the comic Cantinflas and the publicist Santiago Reachi. Later, due to political and financial issues, and to suit Cantinflas's interests, it was sold to Gabriel Alarcon, GUillermo jenkins's front and hired gunman. Although my work appeared without my name, beca use the photos were credited to Hector García's agency, and I had already published photos and reportages in Cine Mundial. It caught my attention because it was the magazine of a tinsel world, dedicated exclusively to providing people with eyecandy. That's show business:


a world that's good for nothing. Stars who are born overnight and deflate just as quickly." As a reporter of the flashy togs and daring poses with which the entertainment industry sought to capture the attention of Mexican society during the mid-fitties and early sixties, Antonio Caballero can speak of the following themes with the authority of a firsthand witness: the "wild punches" thrown by nascent Mexican television; the night life whose last hours might be spent at La Camelia or El Gusano; the "zero survivors" parties which show biz folks organized in the Hotel Bamer's Bamerete Ballroom; Sonia López's songs' first appearance on jukeboxes and the triumph at the Tivoli Theater of Sátira, the burlesque dancer who was bullfight-chronicler Pepe Alameda's girlfriend, "who offstage was quite the a real lady and onstage was an artist who deserved full respect." During the decade when bikinis were all the rage, Antonio Caballero, who confessed he was someone who "adores women," began to represent actors in addition to photographing them. Through his studio portraits, reporting, and powers of persuasion, he helped to build the careers of actresses like Begoña Palacios, Dacia González and Isela Vega. He discovered the first of these in the Iris Astoria restaurant in the Condesa neighborhood, where she was performing as a flamenco dancer. The second was recommended to him by Chava Flores, the composer of "El gato viudo" (The Widowed

Cat). And the third, the greatest of his "creations," who was his lover for a time, he had begun to promote in the days when she was still an unknown Sonaran telephone operator, befo re working as a model for Max Factor and Catalina. Around 1963 an "incredibly sexy girl, a rose of the national cinema" who had worked for the Association of Film journalists led Caballero "to the world of the photo-novella," the rose-tinted dream world which reigned over newsstands throughout the sixties and seventies. Manuel de Landa and Zótico Fonseca, of Novedades Press, were his first contractors. After working for Novelas de amor and Capricho, he became as~ociated with Yolanda Vargas Dulché and Guillermo de la Parra and began to produce Amiga, copied from a Brazilian photonovella. "Foreign magazines and capital began to arrive in Mexico -from Argentina, Chile, Italy. Mexican writers began to copy the photo-novellas being made elsewhere. When I worked at Nocturno and Rutas de pasión I saw what was being done in Cinecitá and Mondadori. We would incorporate fragments of their photo-novellas into ours. They gave me the plots and though I didn't speak Italian I would figure them out." Competition over the market tor young hearts and wallets grew when, then working outside the confines of Novedades, Manuel de Landa began to circulate 215


Cita and Chicas, and Carlos Vigil created Linda, the first color photonovella made in Mexico. As a result of the excellent business producers were doing by creating around ten episodes a week, all with the same tangled amorous plots and similar happy endings, renowned actors and actresses began to be hired, in turn provoking an economic inflation in the field. Casts which were at first made up of unknowns, extras, or art academy students were soon dominated by stars who through their photo-novellas were able to receive massive publicity and at the same time make, in a few days' work, much more than they could in film; the stars' preference for this kind of work, according to Caballero, was yet another reason for the crisis which took place in the Mexican film industry. Between 1963 and 1978, Antonio Caballero calculates that he created no less than five hundred photo-novellas, for which he acted as producer, adapter, director and photographer. Thus initiated his routine as a mass-manufacturer of photo-novellas: "We arrived every day for the hand-kissing ceremony. The how are you, the little kiss of greeting, the acting nice to see if they might give you a plot. If the director was in the mood that day he would tell you: 'Let's se e, Caballerito, read this plot.' I would read it and suggest which artists, which cast it would need: so-and-so for this character, what's-his-name for that one. If they accepted your proposal the next thing was to hire the actors. While they decided whether or not they would participate, I would go home to 216

clean up the script and prepare my storyboard. I would figure out how many exteriors to use, how many interiors, which costumes, how many changes we could make to take the best advantage of our time. We needed the process to be very sharp beca use we had to pay rentals and meals, tips in the restaurants so they'd give us a chance to work there." During the photo sessions-"the filmings"-, the production of a photo-novella was a modest version of a film shoot, work which involved a crew made up of two lighting assistants, one person in charge of wardrobe, a prompter, a make-up artist and the photographer-director, in addition to the stars and their respective assistants (a system which had to be modified when the budget earmarked for the actors became too expensive and the photographer recognized that it would be more convenient to switch from rented lighting equipment to flashes). In the final stage-the mounting of images and text into comic book format after the rolls of film had been developed and catalogued, the contact sheets printed, and the sequences of prints ordered-the photo-novella once again beca me a print product, a close relative of the comic strip. One week is what it took Antonio Caballero to transform a plot and eight thousand pesos -roughly what the press gave him as a total amount for costs and fees- into a legible story (though sometimes he made two photo-novellas in the same period of time). In spite of the pressures and low budgets, Caballero does not regret


his journeys through "th e world of the Mexican photo-novella," a genre which by the end of the seventies had exhausted its potential and beco me a victim of its own commercial and thematic over-exploitation, and which only survived by exchanging the romantic kiss for smuttier fare: a shift towards racy doubleentendres and wretched "real-life stories" effected by the Escamilla brothers and René Eclaire. With his "filmings," Caballero earned enough money to afford a few luxuries and support the family he had created with María del Rocío Hernández-who, as prompter, formed part of his team. As occurs with other graphic narratives produced for mass consumption, Caballero's sequen ces form the pieces and the playing board of a game into which individual readings are incorporated, an exchange in which, as the song goes, each mind is an entire world. The plot that travels from the typewriter to the street, where it is dramatized and illustrated against a backdrop of parks, restaurants, footbridges, bedrooms and kitchens, is prisoner to the noises of the mundane, its distractions, interstices and points of flight. Silenced or modified in terms of the discourse and formation of its texts, the photo-novella recuperates the initial impulses of its images; it liberates an entire spectrum of gestures, objects, actions and settings. That which seems to be a secret meeting between lovers or a painful goodbye on the railway platform could just as easily be

the plottings of our darkest thoughts. The photographer who directed the "jet-set" of Macaria, Ofelia Medina and Verónica Castro, as well as Enrique Guzmán is not the only Antonio Caballero in the archives of Antonio Caballero. Devoting his time today to scientific photography at the UNAM, the revision of his work he has undertaken has allowed him to reclaim the city, the politics and the faces of time past-the complex memory of those "various events" where the bear and the gypsy he photographed the day after the earthquake which caused the Angel of Independence to fall continue' their dance.

217


Suzanne and louise (a Photo-Novella) HervĂŠ Guibert

French photographer, writer and photography critic HervĂŠ Guibert was born in 1955 and died an untimely death from AIDS at age thirty-six, leaving behind profoundly moving and disturbing work. Rara avis in the world of photography criticism, Guibert's work results from the melding of a unique sensibility with the recounting of extraordinary, intimate experiences, framed always within photography's ambiguous light. Halfway between essay and autobiographical narrative, L 'image phantome (Ghost Image, 1982) collects a substantial number of Guibert's writings about photography into one volume. These fairly short, sometimes aphoristic texts explore Guibert's relationship with his family environment, with his sexuality, with life itself, by the dazzling light provoked by the images themselves. We reprint here fragments from Suzanne and Louise (1980), a photo novella in which texts and images are interwoven and which tells us the story of two elderly women-his aunts-sequestered in the fortress of their gray, petty lives. It is also the story of an invasion perpetrated by the photographer himself, who in the process of obtaining these simultaneously disturbing and innocuous images seeks to pursue his own desire: the mise-en-scene of a simulacrum of death. For Guibert, photography is a funereal arto Suzanne and Louise's situation is in this sense paradigmatic. Dead while alive, 218

plagued by the cruel reality that they themselves have forged, these two isolated old women agree, however momentarily, to abandon their hardened protective shells to the mediation of that external device we call the camera. In both his literary work and his photography, Guibert posits the revelation of a secret or enigma. With his lucid and unprejudiced eye towards the family photograph, he highlights the values of those outof-focus, poorly-framed, frustrated images which nonetheless reveal a "photographic esthetic out of synch with reality." Guibert counters the ever-present idea that family photographs preserve memories with a much more radical proposition. Family photographs, he maintains, "create images that take the place of memory, conceal it, and are a kind of respectable history, unnuanced and interchangeable [ ... ]." More than acting as a means of representing reality, photography, for Guibert, overtakes us, ex poses uso Guibert's approach to the photographic image is highly eroticized: "1 don't know how to say it more simply. The image is the essence of desire and if you desexualize the image, you reduce it to theory." Through Guibert we beco me attentive, then, to a reappraisal of concepts such as truth or the image's emotional faithfulness. What would become of photography if it were incapable of driving us to this vertigo? Patricia Gola


1. Two women, old, alone, reclusive, two sisters: Louise and Suzanne. Diminutive, gray and stooped to anyone crossing their path on the street, utterly banal. Two women who have lived in a private rooming house in the quinzieme arrondissement for over forty years. A garden dense in summer, wretched in winter, closed in behind a heavy black metal door. Two women protected by a dog, a large German Shepherd named Whysky. A dog acquired to watch over the two women's money, a guard dogo This could be the scene of a crime, but it will develop as only a simulacrum. It is Suzanne, the elder, who has the money. Louise, her sister, the former Carmelite, plays the role of servant, humble and tyrannical. Suzanne tells the story of a petty life, of memories, of suffering. She says: "1 have never loved anyone other than myself." She also says that she has never cried and she has never smiled, that she has never danced. Louise tells the story of euphoria, of ascension, of death. Since they sold the pharmacy no one comes to see them anymore, except their young nephew. He is writing a piece about them. When they are alone, they don't speak. Louise, at the table, reads serialized novels, while Suzanne listens to the Vingt 20 millions cash game on the radio. They don't speak, except when he comes to see them on Sundays. They don't ask him about his life nor about his work, but rather they speak through him. For him they act out the comedy of their relationship. They seduce him; they are jealous. He keeps quiet and listens to them. They are surprised

at the interest he shows in them, flattered, touched. Suzanne tells him: "If you came to see us in the park, people would think of you as my beau." They suspect that he is writing something about them, and this is why they speak without reservation, in an almost exaggerated way, with nothing to lose. 2. Their life is ordered with a terrible precision, minute by minute. Nothing must go against habito Their daily ritual of getting up, eating breakfast, bathing, Suzanne dressing after her exercises, the shopping Louise does, eating lunch, walking in the park when the weather is nice, going to bed after eating dinner. Every afternoon around six, Louise leaves the house to go to Mass. She returns a little after 7:30 to make dinner (a soup and purĂŠed potatoes for Suzanne, Camembert and chocolate for herself). This is the only moment when she escapes from the house besides the morning, when she runs her errands. Saturday midday is when they have horse steaks. Louise eats hers raw, not ground, just covered with a layer of powdered sugar. They drink champagne with every meal. They call it champagne, but it's really sparkling wine. Louise keeps herself in a perpetual sta te of inebriation, imperceptible yet constant. Religious inebriation: Louise endows the drinking of champagne with curative properties which date back to her infancy (champagne, miraculous drink). After leaving the Carmelite Order in 1945, Louise never cut her hair. Her long, thick, gray hair falls 219


to just below her back. She is proud of her hair. She combs it interminably and then braids it, winding it around her head. She rinses it in vinegar, her beautiful gray hair. Obscene for a woman her age. AII her life, Louise has donated blood. She laments that she can't continue to do so, but she will donate her entire body to science. Her body, which has never once been touched and which she never even looks at, but which she soaks in extremely hot baths ("Her worst habit is burning herself," says Suzanne); she will offer it up for dissection. Suzanne follows her example, she too will donate her body to the School of Medicine. They tell to each other what will become of their bodies. They don't know, but they can imagine. 3. Suzanne feels a certain pride for having moved up in the world from a poor, uncultured, working class background to her position as the wife of a well-situated merchant, for having studied and dedicated herself to music, for having traveled extensively, read Proust and listened to "classical music." Louise respects this ascent (and accepts her exclusion from it). She says: "1 studied up to junior high." Before entering the Carmelite Order, after going to work in her brother-inlaw's pharmacy, Louise worked for an insurance company in Reims. She likes light things, sparkling wine, sentimental magazines (on her bedside table, Nous deux next to Catholic Lite), easy opera music. There are ten years between Louise and Suzanne. They were not raised together. Nonetheless, they 220

share memories of a poor infancy in the country, with a father who worked as a railway switchman and a mother who was the daughter of an impoverished bourgeois family. Louise is the one who does everything: she cooks, washes the clothes, does the cleaning and the shopping. She bathes and dresses Suzanne. The water she pours over Suzanne's body is always too hot, the food she serves her is overcooked and cold. The scissors she uses to do Suzanne's toenails often slip and cut into her flesh. This is not exactly a tale of "dramatic progression," but of the small events that come to disturb their daily life: the sound of the doorbell, abad dream, the dog's death. Suzanne denies herself her daily walk for no reason. Louise surprises her talking to herself. Suzanne pays Louise, very liUle. Louise is her only heir. Louise gives her salary away to charity, during Mass. She squanders her money on wine and pious offerings. It will never be known why, forty years ago, Louise entered the Carmelite Order, and why she left it eight years later. Suzanne's Legs Today, for the first time, Suzanne let me photograph her legs. On the sofa with its slipcover, she took off her slippers, pUlled her housecoat up to her knees, and told me: "You'lI call the photo The Legs of a Cripple," and I told her: "No, it will be called Suzanne's Legs." She told me: "Anyway, I'm not modest anymore." Next time I'm going to photograph Louise's bare legs and feet, beside those large partly-red bones that Whysky chews.


The Photo I believe that it is other things, not the photographer's intentions, that make "good photos"-immaterial things within the realm of love or of the soul, forces which exist there and inscribe themselves, ill-fated, like the text which is written in spite of itself, dictated by a higher voice ... louise's Hair louise cut her hair. She had not cut it since leaving the Carmelite Order in 1945, and now I didn't recognize her. As cruel as it might seem, at this point I see nothing but a diminutive woman, old, without beauty, without magnitude. I immediately wondered how I was able to take those photos. On the other hand, she cut her hair just a short time after I photographed her. She told me: "How lucky that you took those photos" (as if photography were a sacrificial practice). She shows me her cut-off hair, a nasty tangled gray mass that she kept in a paper bago The Cadaver As a type of challenge, Suzanne finally proposed the very thing which specifically addressed my desires in this photographic storytelling, and which I had not dared to admit consciously. She tells me: "We'lI check my School of Medicine identification card for the phone number, 1'11 call to ask if you can follow my body when I die, to photograph what they are going to do with it." I realize, suddenly, that I am making this series of simulacra of Suzanne's death, solely to liberate myself

from the anguish of her abduction: the instant she dies, we have to call the School; the body, captive, will be taken immediately; no one will hold a wake for her. I inform myself as to exactly what her body will turn into: from the delivery van, wrapped in a blanket, the body is placed on a stretcher. It is bled over a washbasin by cutting an artery at the base of the groin, so that it can immediately be filled through the neck with formaldehyde. The skin very quickly becomes blue, sometimes even purple, and the entire body acquires a waxy appearance. It is immediately taken in an elevator down to a windowless room underground, illuminated solely by a fluorescent light. A fan turns aboye a large transparent glass tank filled with formaldehyde, in which the cadavers float while a man in a white robe, up on a stepladder, stirs them with a wooden pole. It smells of cheap wine and disinfectant. Once the cadavers have been well-soaked, they are removed by their feet with a pulley to drain. The body is placed in a metal drawer in a cold room, waiting to be donated to a student. The student's face will be covered with a mask, his or her fingers will not reach the most internal parts except through the translucent membrane of a glove. No part of the body will be kept, but rather each will be thrown in turn into a large black plastic bag, to be burned.


Lisbon, or The Walk of Life Patricia Arriaga

By Way of a Prologue

Patricia Arriaga studied Communication Science at the Universidad Iberoamericana and received her master's and doctoral degrees in Economy lrom the New School lor Social Research in New York. She is a photographer and also makes artist's books. She has had a number 01 solo shows, and next year two 01 her books will be exhibited in Holland and Portugal. The photos which appear here are taken Irom Lisbon, or The Walk of Life, a book which is lorthcoming lrom Artes de México.

One of the pleasures of visiting Lisbon is strolling through its neighborhoods, photographing the streets and the daily lives of those who inhabit them. One morning 1 took refuge from a sudden spring rain beneath the portals of the Pra¡;:a do Comércio where a small market had been set up as it was every Saturday, with antiques, old objects made of iron, and used tools and household items. One stand in particular caught my eye; a young guy was working there, enthusiastically humming along with the music on his walkman. On a small table, there was an old file with postcards from the 1940s. 1 stopped to admire the way the photographers of the time had meticulously hand-colored their images down to the very last detail. As 1 started to walk away, 1 realized that next to the postcards there were various small boxes labeled with names of Portuguese cities. Out of curiosity 1 opened the box marked Lisbon and found a number of carefully folded magazine articles. The texts were from the late twenties and had been clipped from Presen¡;:a, an important literary magazine of that time. 1 asked the guy how much the box costo With some irritation he took off his headphones and named an easily affordable price. It was still raining. 1 decided to cross the street and go to the Martinho da Arcada Café to enjoy my new acquisition. The place was almost empty. 1 chose atable close to the window

and ordered some pastries with natas and a coffee. When 1 took the clippings out of the box I discovered a small package, wrapped in a handkerchief and tied with a black ribbon. I untied it, fascinated to be able to look at something not originally meant for my eyes. The handkerchief contained a set of photographs and a few letters from the thirties, all addressed to Inés do Mar, Cal¡;:ada da Vida 96, Lisboa. 1 could tell how much their owner had valued them by the care with which they were ordered and wrapped together. It was obvious that she had taken the photographs, as they were all stamped with the legend "1. do Mar Photography." The composition of the images showed that she had a vision which was very avant-garde for her times. On the back, someone named Fernando had copied out a few phrases and verses, undoubtedly for his lover. The poems clearly illustrated that Ines's friend had a refined and melancholy soul. 1 didn't doubt at all that they had made an excellent couple: the photographs shared a profound melancholy with the written lines. 1 began to read. Little by little 1 delved deeper into a life which 1 had only encountered by chanceo But 1 don't want to tell you what 1 found on that spring day. Discover it for yourselves, as together we beco me accomplices to what once was.


Spatial Documents Abraham Cruzvillegas

I will repeat what is most disheartening in this malevolent theory of the arts: supposedly, we can approach something real and true only through the fiction of a representation. Without the fiction of a representation we will fall into the unreality and falsehood of pure nothing. Into the deal. FĂŠlix de AzĂşa

Strange thing: a number of times people have asked me for a particular photo (without having seen it and with the intention of exhibiting it in shows with unusual themes and fanciful curatorial perspectives) in which I appear perched on the Monument to Cybele (a Mexico City fountain), pouring water on my feet with a watering can. I have described the situation and shown people the video and the photographs I took to document the action. Aside from the fact that I have never exhibited this work as "photography," this series of events has led me to wonder if it would be worthwhile to turn it into a fixed image, atemporal and open to all kinds of interpretations, or if it would be better not to show it, to allow it to live exclusively in the memories of those that were there.-for it to remain alive in a form we might call the rumor. Involuntarily, I suspect, this action is tied to a series of pertinent if not exactly unfamiliar questions. What is the work of art? The event? The video? The photo? The Monument to Cybele? The water? This text?

Not so involuntarily, a record of this action was created and the very presence of people I specifically asked to be there made it possible for the work to exist permanently. Some spatial events presented exclusively in order to be documented photographically have, aided and abetted by us, been considered cutting-edge. Some artists have also adopted that tricky attitude called ambivalence in order to comment on the ways art is distributed, the work's context and consumption. This has, as well, made it possible for contemporary art to partake of a more elastic form of meaning-making. Through documentation, we are familiar with Robert Smithson's monumental Spiral Jetty, for example, without ever having been there (in my case, anyway). As DamiĂĄn Ortega suggests, it is probably nothing more than a deceptive model set up in the artist's middle-class yard-though extremely well photographed. In other instances, images form part of a collective imaginary as actual events, even though we know that they have been prearranged or modified. We struggle not to stop believing in miraculous events, in myths. One of which is Yves Klein's Leap into the Void. On November 27, 1960, the tabloid Dimanche appeared on newsstands with the headline "A Man In Space!" accompanying the image of aman falling from the second story .af a house on a quiet street with an anonymous bicyclist passing by in the background. The 223


report described the situation: "The painter of space throws himself into the void! The monochrome artist, also a judo champion with a fourthdegree black belt, regularly trains by means of dynamic levitation (with or without a net, risking his life)!" The statements, the newspaper article and the leap are all products of the unrestrained imagination of an artist-designer who turned not just this act, but his activities (including judo) into speculations about veracity. For the Anthropometries of his blue period, he smeared blue paint on various nude models and then used them as human brushes to paint onto canvas-a real and tangible act, as confirmed by the photos in which Klein appears rubbing girls down with his hands covered in paint. Testimony was also provided by those present at these events, which were proposed as shows in an almost circus-like sen se, similar to those included in the film Mondo Caneo The implausible mystical levitations of this Rosicrucian have, however, been willingly accepted, even by some contrary skeptics. One of these was the Viennese Rudolf Schwarzkogler, who created a set of amazing photographic images depicting scenes of mutilation, violence and psychological distress. Performing private events intended to be documented photographically, Schwarzkogler made many believe that he had actually cut off various parts of his body, eventually ending his life. Robert Hughes narrated these events thus, in Time magazine in 1972: "He proceeded inch by inch, amputating h.is own penis, while a photographer recorded the act as 224

an artistic event," but the truth is that he died after falling out of a window, presumably as a result of the feverish hallucinations of a lengthy depression and his obsession with Klein's photomontage Leap into the Void. On the other hand, in spite of our methodological doubts about the things which surround us, particularly those originating in the art world, we have come to believe firmly in certain photographic images which form part of our historical memory. They are real because they are documents. Alfred Eisensteadt's popular photo of a soldier passionately kissing his girlfriend in Times Square upon his return from war is a depiction of joy and celebration. Its nemesis would be Sophie Calle's 1995 image of aman urinating with the help of a feminine hand. The artist's statement explains: "In my fantasies I am the mano Greg realized that early on. Perhaps that was why he proposed that I help him piss one day. This became an intimate ritual: I would stand behind him, undo his pants without looking, take his penis and make sure to put it in the correct position, well-aimed. Afterwards I would carefully put it back and close his fly. Shortly after our separation I suggested we take a photograph in memoriam of this ritual. He agreed. In a Brooklyn studio, before a camera's gaze, I helped him piss into a plastic bucket. The photo was my pretext to put my hand on his genitals one last time. That afternoon I granted him a divorce." Both images-Eisensteadt's, of welcome, and Calle's, of goodbye-


have been purposefully choreographed for the photographic cyclops. The famous photograph taken by Robert Capa, in which a (republican?) soldier collapses in a Spanish Civil War, can be connected to the photo of the autopsy of an extraterrestrial being found in the Nevada desert, as two products of creative and convincing minds. Hitler's or Pancho Villa's histrionic attitudes appear to have been the cause of monumental, and in some cases lamentable and unpleasantantiaesthetic-film montages. In a light box by Jeff Wall, Deod Troops Tolk (A Vision ofter on Ambush of o Red Army Potrol neor Moqor, Afghoniston, Winter 7986), 1992, various dead soldiers, mutilated and bloody, appear in a landscape which fills the entire visual field: there is no sky, the scene itself is everything. As in many of his other photographs, Wall constructed this image in a studio, with actors, make-up, production and direction, not in order to deceive us, but rather as a demonstration of an exsitu representative capacity in which the sublime and the complicitous go hand in hand with a hoax invented during the Renaissance. Certainly what is evidenced here is no trick: the cadavers chat while an Afghan boy robs them of their spoils. Wall's capacity for the super-production of one instant onto an exterior is also illustrated in the depiction of the landscape itself. In other images, more understated and intimate, a certain atmosphere is achieved through the simulation that a private space is being invaded. Arguments around the private and the public (a common art-world

pendulum) intersect, as well, with the propositions of some artists whose work has taken place outside the spaces of galleries or museums, as in the case of Robert Smithson or Vito Acconci. The institutions of art, however, are ubiquitous. As part of the activities comprising a systematic work, at the end of the seventies Vito Acconci informed various conceptual art colleagues of his actions, in this way revealing, through specific documentation, his private contingencies to a public he himself chose. We have access to these records through photographs, letters and texts: information. One of his 1969 works consisted in following one person on the street until he or she entered into a private realm (Following Piece). I imagine the person pursued by Acconci, who in turn was pursued by a photographer. I imagine, as well, Nacho L贸pez following a guy walking down the street with his arm around a mannequin, as if taking it out for a stroll. This type of constructed surrealist photo, the opposite of an oneiric automatism based in extravagant realities-which Breton promoted -forms a practice which has been ahistorically perpetuated by a significant number of photographers; this practice functions as a way to negate the spontaneous situation, in whose discovery the work would supposedly be located rather than in the photographic product itself. Like Nacho L贸pez, Michelangelo Pistoletto takes an object out for a stroll on the street: a popier-mach茅 225


sphere which he brought with him as he walked around performing his daily activities. In a documentary film called Good Morning Michelangelof, Pistoletto appears rolling this globe through his daily life, documenting how a simple objet can transform social relations in a specific contexto Cagada' is the best Mexico City slang term to define a photo of Piero Manzone standing in the doorway of a bathroom, smiling, holding a small container of his Artist's Shit exactly as if he had just finished executing the work. Particularly if this work is compared with others in which the Italian artist appears signing human sculptures, drawing infinite lines, inflating his corpi d'aria, standing on his magic pedestal or placing his fingerprint on hardboiled eggs. And always smiling. It is clear that in the sequence of photographs in which William Wegman drops a glass of milk without its breaking, the miraculous magic of the laugh track is at work. In his photographic documentations, Bas Jan Ader always appears weeping or about to burst into tears. Obsessively visual, he organized flower bouquets, objects on the freeway or his own clothing on a roof. A sublime pragmatics. In other sequences, we can see this Dutch artist falling: from a tree, from the roof of his house or off his bike into a canal. His piece In Search of The Miraculous led him to the ocean, and he would never leave it again-like Arthur Cravan, the Dada pugilist who set off from Salina Cruz never to return again. If anyone has news of Bas Jan Ader, let us know. His distinguishing 226

features can be found in his photos, in which there are always tears. In Fluxus events there were both tears and laughter. Like bu lis in a chinashop, members of Fluxus organized cacophonous concerts based in simultaneous multiple free interpretation of flexible scores, based loosely on the Cagean model of chance and the indeterminate. LaMonte Young's Piece # 10, dedicated to Robert Morris, declared: "Draw a straight line and follow it." In 1962, during the Very New Music Festival, Nam June Paik wet his hair in a basin of ink and catsup and then drew a wide, gestural line on a stretch of elegant su mi papero In 1974, the sculptor Lynda Benglis also worked within the context of a magazine to enact a photographic commentary about images of women in art: think, for example, of Klein's blue models as representing the supposed machismo which dominated the New York scene in the 1960s and 1970s. Wearing dark glasses, with her tanned body sensually lubricated, Benglis appeared on the pages of Artforum completely nude, holding an enormous erect dildo in her right hand as if it were real, and hers. Her other hand rests provocatively on her hip bone while she contemplates those who are looking at her: the camera. Chris Burden is famous beca use on November 19, 1971 a friend shot him (because Burden had asked him to) at only a few meters' distance, hitting him in the arm-all in the context of a solo show. Burden wanted to use a traditional sculptural process with different materials, using a metal tool (the


bullet) to transform the spatiality of a block of material: his body. The emotional charge which surrounds the violence of this event was connected to certain social, sexual and even physiological themes of the work, interpretations of which vary according to who is listening to the story, even without the need to look at the records of the acto Once again, rumor. In the performance of these spatial events and in their movement towards a different artistic stage, a kind of recordkeeping is indispensable. I do not believe that the collection of references I allude to here is particularly related to issues of credibility or faith, but rather partakes of common phenomena that thread through all the works and how they relate to one another, how they move us and implicate us in their own existence as images, not as photos. On the other hand, to negate the photographic splendor of the document is almost like contradicting the allegations of a huge crowd of bystanders who claim they saw Loco ValdĂŠs ( a wellknown Mexican comic) walking on top of a line of cars on the PerifĂŠrico. 2

, Translator's note: cagada, past participle of the verb cagar, to shit, is used in Mexico City slang to mean-<lepending on the context-hilariously funny or extremely irritating (shitty) and can also, as in this context, literally refer to defecating. , Translator's note: the PerifĂŠrico ("peripheral") is the ring highway that endoses a large central zone of Mexico City. 227


To Archive, to Repeat, to Travel Luis Felipe Ortega

Long ago the fa te of narrative entered a period of instability. Voices were raised, from some corner of the earth-sometimes not so very far away-denouncing narrative forms for having forgotten their principal duty: to give an account of a thing, and to do so using the best tools language has to offer. It is not unusual to encounter, here and there, philologists and linguistics experts who are perturbed for reasons that seem well-founded: why extend a statement which might be expressed in a few concise words or phrases? It seems that we have befo re us an issue which not only hits close to home for writing or literature, but which also expands to encompass other disciplines, provoking similar questions: what has the language of images turned into if not a series of repetitions and reiterations, a satu ration of sen ses which come to annihilate their own meanings? It suffices, perhaps, to go out on the street and observe the visual saturation to which consumer society has accustomed us, and investigate a few of these complaints. Though I share some of the criticisms leveled by these specialists, I find it difficult to join in their attacks. Of course the writer's task is to accomplish her or his work as cleanly as possible, including in the story only that which affects its narrative expectations. Exactitude, mentioned so often by Italo Calvino, compels us to examine what is indispensable to the narrative. The same might be said of visual works whose central feature seems to be a 228

poor use of rhetoric, the saturation of various elements, and contradictory statements which coexist in the interior of the work as an attempt at something which, for better or for worse, might come to be called discourse. Indeed, discourse itself seems to be a further characteristic of contemporary artistic production. A few days ago, after I had committed myself to writing a few notes about the meanings currently located within visual narrative (and particularly photography), I happened to find myself surrounded by an overdose of images and information. I wasn't that interested in writing a historical text, but in no time I had delved into various encyclopedias to search for appropriate names and research works that, in my view, would correspond to the ideas I had developed around the current state of photographic narrative. I therefore had to seek another option, or other options. Finally, I decided to focus on three works and attempt to approach an understanding of them. The reason I will speak of these particular works is directly related to a positive-if we can call it that-sense of image repetition, where meanings are expanded thanks to the necessity of considering reiteration as a very specific way of developing and enunciating visual narrative.

First Approach One Sunday in January of 1963, John Baldessari took his car and got on the freeway to drive from Los


Angeles to Santa Barbara. With his camera always at the ready, he devoted his journey to driving behind cargo trucks that he encountered along the way: from there-from behind the wheel-he recorded his trip with his camera aimed at the backsides of the trucks: a work comprised of one day, thirtytwo photographs, one journey and one sojourn. I don't know how far it might be prudent to question the narrative necessity which propelled this artist, or where an interpretation of this work might lead. We might think of this act as an animated film, and we would then be left with a few seconds of action, of times and spaces which are very distinct from one another but which maintain one constant: the principal character is always the same. It would be worth our while to observe the distance between the first and last images, and the importance that each image holds in relation to the staged act of being once again. Following the sequences this narration offers us and the innumerable shifts it enacts, are we able to speak of an inaugural image? Or must we instead maintain all the images on the same level, leaving them to their own interplay, the positing of different images as parallel times? If we believe that there exists one moment for each utterance, one moment for each speaker, we must say that after the second image, each image reiterates the affirmative function already present in the first. The event marks a geography, a map whose importance lies in the repeating object but then, however reluctantly, the subject is obliged to

make her or his protagonistic presence visible in each new shot. Over there we can see the part of the car which implies the artist's presence, signaling that he is an essential element in his own subjective relationship with the exterior. The idea seems simple enough: to get in the car and make portraits of all the cargo trucks encountered on the journey. But the equation becomes much more complex and it becomes clear to us that through this project, Baldessari has constructed a framework of differences compelling the work towards a sort of personal mythology: the spectator will always occupy the place of the artist seated in his car. Second Approach Unlike Baldessari, Hiroshi Sugimoto is an artist who makes enormous shifts in position in order to construct always the same image in black and white. The horizon, dividing his frame in two, dominates the image with its exquisite calm; water and sky come together in a line which will no doubt extend into subsequent photographs. The Atlantic Ocean seen from very distant perspectives, keeping its silence, showing its peaceful face. In this series, it becomes difficult to find differences: unanticipated irregularities have been rejected, the level of light (coldly?) corresponds in all the photos and we might imagine a sequence of repetitions of a single momento The artist has, however, opted to work under very diverse positioning mechanisms. His work considers the gaze as being 229


always subject to the principies of a relationship between the same and the other, and involves the constant addition of photographs which correspond to the previous image in his archive. We know that the artist was there, before an expanse of ocean which denied him the possibility of looking at land on the other side, we know that there is a period of waiting, and nonetheless we only have access to this horizon line where everything is the same. The archive functions as a personal memory which returns constitutive exteriority and internal logic to each instant and focuses attention on the links between the visible and the utterable. Third Approach New journey. The artist gets on his motorcycle and goes to work. The routes by which he might drive away from his house, move through the city, are multiple and hazardous; his objective is to find motorcycles just like his-same model, same color-and photograph them. Over a number of days and many kilometers, the images accumulate. Unlike the works mentioned aboye, in Until You Find Another Yellow Schwalbes-the title of Gabriel Orozco's piece-, the set of images collected beco mes one transitory moment, something which will end, ideally, with the meeting of these "found" motorcycles outside a gallery in Berlin. This work involves a process of record-keeping, the registration of objects which will then make it possible for the artist to utilize a collection of documents which point to the very existence of these objects, positioned and designated 230

to form an imaginary line of connection between them, a diagram which differs conceptually from a map and allows for a direct relationship between elements which were not initially identified with one another. We might say that these objects remain disparate after they are documented thus, but now it is possible to recognize them and also to mark them-like someone sticking pins into a map and subsequently stringing them together to delimit a particular zone within the landscape. If the methodology becomes a significant element in the work itself, it functions to buttress the photographic means of formulating a documentation of objects-in turn allowing for the existence of an imaginary diagram-to later posit the search for a vertex, made possible by the conjunction of the photographed objects. It is at this moment when the narrative event of the images (the diagram) and the presence of the motorcycles together make the work visible. What we have, if we fragment this work, are spaces which Foucault called correlative: " w hich have to do with the utterance's relationship not with other utterances, but rather with its subjects, its objects, its concepts." This piece can live independently of each one of its constituent moments; this then alters the manner in which it functions when it is presented as a whole. New positionings of the speaker. Fourth Approach. Exit It seems important that ideas of the archive, of the document, of repetition, are associated with a


significant number of visual works made in recent years, given the way these works posit narrative events. In the pieces described aboye, as in many others, something occurs to separate the works from other images we might currently understand as functioning to document actions. We have here a constant-and indivisible-interaction between action-displacement-and the manner in which the object is photographed. The camera performs as a narrative instrument, comprising a key strategy in the construction of the visual utterance, and it seems to me that the artist is more concerned with the manufacture of these utterances than with the formal elements which lead us to read these images as mere photographs. It is the artist him or herself who decides to use this tool to construct the precise temporal and spatial relationship inherent to any regulated narrative. It goes without saying that photography is one tool among many others. At another time I might equally have written about video .. . running the risk of beginning to repeat myself.

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Finale Laureana Toledo

for E.R.

It sometimes seems unbelievable to me how important structure can be in a story, or purposeful destructuring, or even the lack of structure. I'm thinking of Cortรกzar's Rayuela. I'm thinking of more complex narrative structures like those of Primo Levi or Italo Calvino. "Everything that begins must come to an end," "everything that rises must fall", or something like that ... These phrases spring to mind because we are, to a certain extent, accustomed to things beginning, developing, and coming to an end. Whatever-that's the cycle of life, of stories. To then begin again: a new start. New possibilities in even our oldest stories. In our visual memories and in our expectations about a film or an article, we are constantly waiting anxiously to see what will happen at the end, but only if we have a prior knowledge of the narrative development. It amuses me that one of the best ways to ruin a film for someone is to tell them the ending. At the end we always find out who the killer is, at the end the characters always get married and live happily ever after, at the end we learn the tangled motives for the good and the bad and so forth and so on ... Recently we had the opportunity to see Episode One of a film saga the outcome of which we already knew, and my question (before I walked out in the middle of the movie) was, is this really 232

necessary? Perhaps as a marketing strategy, perhaps so that we could see Liam Neeson and Ewan Mac Gregor and a bunch of other stars playing Jedi Knights; yes, perhaps for those reasons alone. But was it really necessary for us to know where all those characters came from, despite the fact that chapters four, five and six had already revealed the truth of their parentage and the mystic conflicts between the characters, their incests and Oedipal complexes? And anyway, good triumphs in the end and we have that beautiful wedding with exotic guests from the entire galaxy and that's that... a happy ending yet again. It's obvious that all photographs tell a story, of anything, of nothing, of something. It's obvious that when we make a work of photo-journalism we seek to give the viewer a clear idea of what comes after what, to present a well-told story. Some texts do this in an almost didactic manner-i.e., after A comes B and then C. It would seem that, in this sense, photography does not tell a story in photos, but rather with photos. Generally, one single image is not enough to help us understand an entire story and we have to resort to the use of series, bringing us closer to cinematographic language and distancing us from the instantaneity and forcefulness of photography. I believe that only a few photographs are able to successfully contain a more complex story within a single


frame, where the ending functions merely as the beginning of a series of questions which take us in various directions at once. The reasons that contemporary art has devoted itself to varying established narrative methods seem fairly clear to me, but we continue to ask basically the same questions; in my view, this is one area we need to investigate further-as artists and as spectators. Personally, I am against didacticism in arto I don't think we should treat the spectator like an idiot who understands nothing and who is not ready to ask her or himself the same questions that we ask as artists. And thus enters ambiguity. Certainly when we have some knowledge of a work's narrative development, when we have an understanding of its processes, the final images are clearer and longerlasting, more memorable. This, however, suggests merely the minimal mental effort a work requires. Looking at a Robert Frank photograph, we might ask ourselves where the person -seemingly compelled to move in the direction of the arrow- is walking, but is it important to know this? Why is the image located in Los Angeles and not elsewhere? Could it be that this photograph is taking place at various points on the planet at the same time? Isn't it enough for us to do nothing more than look at it? Examining Maurizio Cattelan's record of his escape from the Castle af Rivali in Turin, it is not necessary to say that this is a photo of what is left behind after an escape, nor

that the artist was in a castle and did not know what work of art to make-and that for this reason he escaped, leaving behind evidence of his act (and, of course, taking a photograph befo re leaving the scene). We do not need to know that Turin is the city which gave birth to Arte Povera, which had such a great influence on Cattelan. It is not necessary for us to know that the Po passes through that city merely to be able to observe a photograph and ask ourselves, why the hell is it called Una Damenica a Rivara?

There are many more things we do not need to know. What does it matter if we know what made Luis Felipe Ortega get up from the bench he was sitting on so comfortably and approach the other Luis Felipe Ortega to sit down beside him? Perhaps he found his own presence so insufferable that he couldn't take it any longer. Or perhaps noto

David Hockney's montages also seek to exhibit a suppression of time, in which the beginning and the end meld together into a single instant, despite the time it takes him to make the works themselves: their narrative importance does not hinge on that. On the other hand, for example, are Etienne JulesMarey's or Eadweard J. Muy233


bridge's works, in which we are invited to dismember the very thing we are seeing, or whose final result is already familiar to us: these artists are much closer to science, to dissection, than to narrative. The pertinent question, then, is how we might differentiate among these subtleties. What do we cast aside, and what do we keep? What kind of photography forms merely an ending, and not part of a developing process? Why do some of us still struggle to omit revealing details? Can that possibly suffice to assuage our doubts? Perhaps the only possible response is to continue investigating, paying attention to the clues and acting as a good

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detective would: always asking more questions . Asking more questions in order to gather more and more data and thus be able, each of us, to construct a suitable ending. Or perhaps never to reach a conclusion, but rather to continue moving forward along a road where new questions appear. And each time to begin again, but with the certainty that there are some roads that we are no longer willing to follow . Or to conclude. Or to begin again ... Always a new story. (And aside from endings, I would have given that little Anakin Skywalker a few good slaps for his arrogance, because a good scolding early o.n ... ).



Luna Córnea 18. La máquina de narrar