Luna Córnea 33. Viajes al Centro de la Imagen Vol. 1

Page 1


CONSEJO NACIONAL PARA LA CULTURA Y LAS ARTES Presidenta: Consuelo Sáizar CENTRO NACIONAL DE LAS ARTES Director General: Roberto Vázquez Díaz Director General Adjunto Académico: Humberto Chávez Mayol CENTRO DE LA IMAGEN Director: Alejandro Castellanos Cadena Coordinadora Editorial: Alejandra Pérez Zamudio LUNA CÓRNEA Director: Alfonso Morales Carrillo Editores invitados: Patricia Gola, Valeria Pérez Vega, Alejandra Pérez Zamudio, Alejandro Castellanos. Asistentes de investigación y edición: Luis Hernández, Claudia Zendejas, Luz María Jasso, Alejandra Padilla Pola, Isaura Oseguera. Diseño editorial: Carolina Herrera Zamarrón Asistentes de diseño: Ángel Armando Moreno, Carolina Fernández Cuidado de producción: Pablo Zepeda Martínez Reprografía: César Flores, Agustín Estrada Comunicación: Valentín Castelán Ventas por Internet: www.educal.com.mx Director fundador: Pablo Ortiz Monasterio Consejo editorial: Manuel Álvarez Bravo†, Graciela Iturbide, Patricia Mendoza, Víctor Flores Olea, Pedro Meyer, Mariana Yampolsky†, Olivier Debroise†, Roberto Tejada, Gilberto Chen, José A. Rodríguez, Alejandro Castellanos, Gerardo Suter, Francisco Mata y Alberto Ruy Sánchez. Dirección del Centro de la Imagen: Plaza de la Ciudadela núm. 2, Centro Histórico, México, DF, CP 06040. Tel. 4155 0850 lunacornea.ci@gmail.com Editor responsable: Alejandra Pérez Zamudio Licitud de título: 12478 Licitud de contenido: 10049 Número de reserva al Título de Derechos de Autor: 04- 2011- 091412445800- 102 Preprensa e impresión: Dat@color Impresores, S.A. de C.V. Avena 201, Col. Granjas México, Iztacalco, 08400 México, D.F. Impreso en México issn: 0188-8005.

Tiraje: 4000 mil ejemplares. Los trabajosDirector aquí publicados son responsabilidad Presidenta: General:Director General de los autores. La revista se reserva el derecho de Adjunto Académico: Director: Coordinadora modificar los títulos y subtítulos de los artículos.de Editorial: Director:Editores invitados:Asistentes Número 33 / 2011. investigación y edición:Diseño editorial: Asistentes Esta edición se realizó con la contribución del de diseño:Cuidado de producción: Reprografía: Programa de Apoyo a la Investigación, Docencia y Comunicación:Ventas por Internet:Director Difusión las Artes 2008, PADID. fundador:deConsejo editorial: Editor responsable: Licitudlas deimágenes título: Licitud de contenido: Número de Todas aparecen por cortesía de sus reserva al Título de Derechos respectivos autores, excepto que se indique lo de Autor:Preprensa e impresión: contrario.

Luna Córnea agradece la colaboración y apoyo que para la realización de este número, primero de la serie Viajes al Centro de la Imagen, le brindaron las siguientes personas e instituciones: Juan Salvador Salvador Aguilar, Aguilar, Carlos Carlos Aguirre, Aguirre, Mauricio Mauricio Alejo, Alejo, Guillermo Guillermo Arias, Arias, Patricia Patricia Juan Aridjis, Lorenzo Lorenzo Armendáriz, Armendáriz, Jorge Jorge Bermúdez, Bermúdez, Cannon Cannon Bernáldez, Bernáldez, Lázaro Lázaro Blanco Blanco †, †, Aridjis, Rosa María María Blanco, Blanco, Katya Katya Brailovsky, Brailovsky, Fernando Fernando Brito, Brito, Isaac Isaac Broid, Broid, Gustavo Gustavo Rosa Camacho Olivares, Olivares, Ana Ana Casas, Casas, Fernando Fernando Castillo Castillo Fuentes, Fuentes, Gilberto Gilberto Chen, Chen, Carlos Carlos Camacho Cisneros, Jorge Jorge Claro Claro León, León, Roberto Roberto Córdova Córdova Leyva, Leyva, Andrea Andrea Di Di Castro, Castro, Juan Juan José José Cisneros, Díaz Infante, Infante, Alfredo Alfredo Domínguez, Domínguez, Agustín Agustín Estrada, Estrada, Federico Federico Gama, Gama, Maya Maya Goded, Goded, Díaz José Carlo Carlo González, González, Arturo Arturo González González de de Alba, Alba, Lourdes Lourdes Grobet, Grobet, Mónica Mónica Hernández, Hernández, José Javier Hinojosa, Hinojosa, Graciela Graciela Iturbide, Iturbide, Ernesto Ernesto Lehn, Lehn, Luis Luis Lupone, Lupone, Mayra Mayra Martell, Martell, Javier Eniac Martínez, Martínez, Adrián Adrián Mealand, Mealand, Patricia Patricia Mendoza, Mendoza, Pedro Pedro Meyer, Meyer, Gerardo Gerardo Eniac Montiel Klint, Klint, José José Núñez, Núñez, Raúl Raúl Ortega, Ortega, Pablo Pablo Ortiz Ortiz Monasterio, Monasterio, Rubén Rubén Pax, Pax, Montiel Margarito Pérez Pérez Retana, Retana, Ernesto Ernesto Ramírez Ramírez Bautista, Bautista, Heriberto Heriberto Rodríguez, Rodríguez, César César Margarito Sánchez Olvera, Olvera, Jesús Jesús Sánchez Sánchez Uribe, Uribe, Gerardo Gerardo Suter, Suter, Ricardo Ricardo Trabulsi, Trabulsi, Antonio Antonio Sánchez Turok, Eloy Eloy Valtierra, Valtierra, Pedro Pedro Valtierra, Valtierra, Yvonne Yvonne Venegas, Venegas, Antonio Antonio Vizcaíno, Vizcaíno, Emilio Emilio Turok, Watanabe, Mariana Mariana Yampolsky Yampolsky †. †. Watanabe,

María del del Perpetuo Perpetuo Coordinación Nacional de Asuntos Jurídicos del INAH / María Socorro Villarreal Villarreal Escárcega Escárcega || Coordinación Nacional de Monumentos Socorro Julieta García García García, García, Martha Martha Ghigliazza, Ghigliazza, José José Históricos del INAH / Julieta Alberto Luna, Luna, Violeta Violeta Caballero Caballero Rico, Rico, Gerardo Gerardo García García Pérez, Pérez, Jacqueline Jacqueline Alberto Haydée Perales || Escuela de Diseño del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes Haydée Perales Mauricio Maillé, Maillé, Girón || Dirección de Artes Visuales de Fundación Televisa Mauricio Girón Fernanda Monterde, Monterde, Gustavo Gustavo Fuentes, Fuentes, Héctor Héctor Orozco Orozco || Archivo General de Fernanda Alma Vázquez Vázquez || Biblioteca de México Eduardo Eduardo Lizalde, Lizalde, Miguel Miguel la Nación Alma García Ruiz, Ruiz, Beatriz Beatriz García García || Archivo Fotográfico Enrique Bostelmann García Yeyette Bostelmann Bostelmann || Archivo Fotográfico Manuel Ramos Elia del Carmen Carmen Yeyette Yolanda Ramírez || Centro de Colecciones Arturo Ortega Navarrete, A.C. Yolanda Ramírez Marco Antonio Antonio Cruz Cruz || Periódico La Jornada Rebeca Rebeca Ortega || Revista Proceso Marco Ortega Bibiana Rosales Rosales || Centro Panameño, Fabrizio Fabrizio León León || Agencia El Universal Bibiana Panameño, Joaquín Bolaños, Bolaños, Valentín Valentín Castelán, Castelán, Rocío Rocío Chávez, Chávez, José José Luis Luis de la Imagen Joaquín Coronado, Francisco Francisco de de la la Rosa, Rosa, Mario Mario Domínguez, Domínguez, José José Luis Luis Flores, Flores, Lourdes Lourdes Coronado, Franco, Luis Luis Alberto Alberto González, González, Cecilia Cecilia Hidalgo, Hidalgo, José José Luis Luis Iturbide, Iturbide, Édgar Édgar Jaramillo, Jaramillo, Franco, Érika Núñez, Núñez, Cristina Cristina Rivas, Rivas, Jesús Jesús Rodríguez, Rodríguez, Jesús Jesús Torres, Torres, Jo Jo Trujillo, Trujillo, Daniel Daniel Vega. Vega. Érika

El Centro Centro de delalaImagen Imagen agradece a todas aquellas personas que han agradece a todas las personas que han trabajado trabajado por el ordenamiento, clasificación y conservación de susfotográacervos en la documentación, catalogación y conservación de sus acervos fotográfico, bibliográfico y documental, entre entre ellas:ellas: Gabriela González, fico, bibliográfico y documental, Adriana Carral, Genoveva Saavedra, Luz María Jasso, Georgina Rodríguez, Acervo fotográfico Gabriela González Reyes, Adriana Carral, Genoveva Johan Trujillo, Katia Olalde, Luis Alberto González, Rodrigo Ortega, Betzabé Saavedra, Luz Gálvez, María Jasso, GeorginaEva Rodríguez, Trujillo, Anne Franco, Andrea Iván González, Calderón,Johan Guadalupe Zamora, Blondel yyKatia Marisela Bernardino ÁngelOlalde. García Hernández. Acervo bibliográfico y documental Luis Alberto González, Rodrigo Ortega, Betzabé Franco, Iván González, Eva Calderón, Guadalupe Zamora, Marisela Bernardino y Angel García Hernández.


LUNA CÓRNEA 33

VIAJES AL CENTRO DE LA IMAGEN I

CONTENIDO

8 Efemérides para un futuro almanaque Hechos y sucesos de la fotografía en México (1968-1994) Valeria Pérez Vega

31

289

313

La Ciudadela 321

72

Un lugar para todas las imágenes

345

95

Rubén Pax: Exposición de exposiciones La guillotina y el obturador

348 355

Cómo me olvidé de Lázaro Blanco Mauricio Alejo La retórica del infinito e r andy Vergar a Vargas

Mil novecientos noventa y cuatro

381

141

Pasamontañas

385

Aproximaciones a un look insurrecto armando B artr a

r icardo tr aBulsi

La línea invisible m auricio a lejo

138

Una tarde en Corralchén

Imagen expandida ger ardo s uter

Traspasos de un archivo policiaco a lfonso mor ales carrillo

175

Música de Cámara La partitura perdida fernando c astro r.

De los asoleaderos de tabaco al cortejo de las imágenes a lejandr a Pérez z amudio

115

Ángel Cosmos en Fotozoom La audacia de lo interdisciplinario luis r. HernÁndez

La interminable juerga de Venus Entre el cielo y el deseo Fragmentos de una historia de las imágenes técnicas e r andy Vergar a Vargas

396

Círculos concéntricos a na c asas Broda

179

Evocaciones neozapatistas HeriBerto rodríguez

201 Itinerarios etnográficos

233

412

B eatriz noVaro Peñalosa

De la antropoesía a la etnofusión Valeria Pérez Vega

417

El cuerpo expósito

424

274

Remembranza de un provocador jesús s ÁncHez uriBe

284

Mis encuentros con un artista multidimensional juan josé díaz infante

Las heridas que se curan con retratos y Vonne Venegas

Retrato imaginario de un caníbal Á ngel cosmos

Primero va la mirada m aya goded

m auricio ortiz

270

El roce de los lenguajes

437

Déjenlo ir K atya Br ailoVsKy



LUNA CÓRNEA 33 VOYAGES TO THE CENTRO DE LA IMAGEN PRESENTATION

451 BUILDING THE CENTRO DE LA IMAGEN Three Accounts

452 THE SHUTTER AND THE GUILLOTINE Transgressions from a case file ALFONSO MORALES CARRILLO

461 THE ABANDONED BODY MAURICIO ORTIZ

468 ÁNGEL COSMOS AND FOTOZOOM Interdisciplinary Audacity LUIS R. HERNÁNDEZ

478 MAURICIO ALEJO Between Still Image and Time-Image ERANDY VERGARA

486 CONCENTRIC CIRCLES ANA CASAS

501 PROOFREADER: RICHARD MOSZK A


The images in this section were taken from El Libro del Sol, a compilation of illustrations edited by Rafael L贸pez Castro and Felipe Garrido, and published in 1984 by the sep Cultura and Ediciones del Ermita帽o.


Centro de la Imagen. Plaza de la Ciudadela no. 2, beside Balderas Avenue. Colonia Centro Histórico, Delegación Cuauhtémoc. Mexico City. Postal Code 06040…  There is a building at this address that welcomes  a  wide  range  of  visitors  and  receives  a  great  deal  of  mail.  It  sits  on old, persevering stones filled with memories, steeped in the odor of  colonial  tobacco  and  resonating  with  the  sounds  of  revolutionary  guns.  Its name (literally ‘Image Center’) does not include the word ‘photography,’ which is itself an overly precise term, and as such, only too vague  if we wish to refer to matters that normally involve light, time, imagination and memory. One can fall from any height, or climb out of the darkness of the deepest cave, and arrive at the Centro de la Imagen. There is  no road, no matter how tortuous, that does not lead to the Centro de la  Imagen.  Likewise,  upon  exiting  the  Centro  de  la  Imagen,  one  can  follow any direction of the compass. It is common knowledge that there is  no  center  besides  the  one  created  by  the  more  or  less  stable  balance  of  centrifugal and centripetal forces: the result of tensions where order and  anarchy complement each other. Though we can see it with our own eyes,  a  place  such  as  this—which  fully  realizes  the  contradiction  inherent  to  its name, juxtaposing terms that refer to hierarchy or fixity (the center)  and to constant motion (the image)—cannot truly exist. Let us concede  that  this  ultimately  utopian  name  nonetheless  refers  to  a  bend  in  the  labyrinth of the Mexican capital and to a building loaded with stories to  which, since 1994, individuals interested in the art and craft of photography have added their own marks, erasures and fantasies. Indeed, all these  people’s visions have proved that images have more than one center and  have  different  ways  of  revealing  their  intangibility  or  their  rootedness,  of depicting what is most banal or most transcendent. Thus, we at Luna Córnea  have  assumed  that  if  a  Centro  de  la  Imagen  ever  really  existed,  it is because of the confluences, meetings and journeys that have taken  place there. So an issue like this one, which launches the series Voyages to the Centro de la Imagen, could only be a patchy, tentative and unfinished  chronicle of some of the projects, voices, perspectives and undertakings  that have constructed the imaginary architecture of a space where photography has questioned itself and, at the same time, has been questioned  as a document of the past, an expression of the present and a token of the  future. | Alfonso Morales Tr. Richard Moszka

451


BUILDING THE CENTRO DE LA IMAGEN Three Accounts Pablo Ortiz Monasterio (POM): In  1989  Víctor  Flores  Olea  called  me  to  organize  something  for  the  150th  anniversary  of  the  invention  of photography. Carlos Salinas had  just  become  president  of  Mexico  and  the  National  Council  for  Culture  and  the  Arts  (Conaculta)  had  just  been  created,  and  it  was  Flores Olea who headed it. We had  to  work  as  quickly  as  possible  so  that that same year we could celebrate the 150th anniversary of photography.  In  the  end  we  put  up  a  proper series of exhibitions. In the  years before that, we’d had a dearth  of  photography  projects  because  the  Mexican  Photography  Council  had hit a low point. We quickly put  together proposals that got the support  of  various  museums:  among  them,  the  Museum  of  Modern  Art, the Carrillo Gil Museum and  the  National  Museum  of  Art  [all  in  Mexico  City].  The  exhibitions  and  publications  were  a  success.  It  was  a  collective  venture  that  involved  a  lot  of  people.  At  first  we  organized  it  at  the  headquarters  of  the  Mexican  Photography  Council, in a tiny office. We had to  move from there when the Council  was  forced  to  vacate  the  house  they  occupied  on  Tehuantepec  Street,  in  the  Roma  neighborhood.  Sylvia  Pandolfi  lent  us  a  space at the Carrillo Gil Museum.

That’s  where,  with  Emma  Cecilia  García  and  Patricia  Gola—this  is  when  Patricia  Mendoza  joined  the team—we finished organizing  the  project  for  the  150th  anniversary  of  photography.  The  government  valued  our  organizational  and  public-outreach  capabilities— when  we  were  actually  still  just  learning the ropes—and so Flores  Olea  asked  us  to  take  charge  of  Ciudad de México 20’s-50’s,  which  was  a  huge  project.  That’s  when  Alfonso  Morales  joined  us—he  was the curator of the main exhibition, Asamblea de Ciudades, which  opened  at  the  Palace  of  Fine  Arts  in early 1992. For this we were formally assigned an office, which was  named  the  National  Coordination  of  Temporary  Exhibitions  and  Events.  That’s  what  it  was  called.  And  so  they  killed  two  birds  with  one stone, because that’s when the  Teatro Helénico (Hellenic Theater)  reopened.  They  sent  us  to  coordinate  activities  at  the  Helénico,  for  us  to  function  as  representatives  of  the  Conaculta  at  the  Helénico,  and  from  there  we  coordinated  the  project  about  Mexico  City,  which  was  clearly  much  bigger  and  more  complex  than  what  we  had  organized  for  the  150th  anniversary of photography. We spent a  year  and  a  half,  maybe  two  years,  at  the  Helénico  offices,  working  on  Ciudad de México 20’s-50’s.  Other  photography  projects  were conceived  in  that  same  space  in  1992  and  1993:  among  them,  a  452


magazine,  published  under  the  name of Luna Córnea, and a festival  named  Fotoseptiembre.  When  the Ciudad de México 20’s-50’s project  concluded  with  good  results,  there  was  room  to  seriously  consider an idea conceived by the photographers’ community which met  with  the  approval  of  Flores  Olea,  maybe  because  he  himself  was  a  photographer:  to  establish  a  new  space  for  photography  that  would  recover  the  space  that  had  been  lost with the progressive decline of  the Mexican Photography Council.  Pedro  Meyer,  who  by  then  was  already  totally  immersed  in  digital media and was looking towards  the  future,  had  sent  Flores  Olea  a  project for the new space, which he  proposed  to  name  the  Centro  de  la  Imagen  [Image  Center].  Flores  Olea and Meyer were often in contact and on very friendly terms. In  Meyer’s  opinion,  the  new  Center  had to focus above all on new technologies.  For  us,  what  was  most  important  was  to  have  a  place  to  host  exhibitions,  workshops,  a  library—in  a  nutshell,  everything  required  to  attend  to  photography  and its wide array of practices, old  and  new.  At  first,  a  building  on  Uruguay  Street  was  considered,  whose  structure  had  been  made  at  the  Eiffel  factory;  it  was  a  very  pretty  building  that  was  going  to  be  lent  to  us  by  the  Mexico  City  government,  headed  by  Manuel  Camacho  Solís  at  the  time.  That’s  where  we  were  at,  discussing  453

the  best  way  to  establish  the  new  Centro  de  la  Imagen,  when  there  was  a  quarrel  between  Octavio  Paz  and  Víctor  Flores  Olea,  as  a  consequence  of  which  Flores  Olea  left the Conaculta. Flores Olea had  lent  his  support  to  a  group  from  Nexos magazine in their organization  of  the  Coloquio  de  Invierno  [Winter  Colloquy].  And  then  Paz  took  offense  and  complained  that  the  government  had  lent  its  support to this Colloquy and not to his  ‘La experiencia de la libertad’ [‘The  Experience  of  Freedom’]  meeting, organized at an earlier date by  Vuelta  magazine,  which  had  only  received  private-sector  sponsorship.  Paz,  who,  to  tell  the  truth,  had  cultivated  relationships  with  the  power  structure  through  different channels, took advantage of  the situation to reposition himself  politically. He approached Ernesto  Zedillo, who had become Secretary  of  Education  after  the  secratariat  he  had  previously  headed  was  abolished,  and  who  wasn’t  a  very  important  figure  at  the  time— Flores Olea then negotiated directly  with president Salinas. I witnessed  the  controversy  that  led  to  Flores  Olea’s  resignation.  It  happened  at  the Museum of Anthropology. The  Secretary  of  Education  accompanied  Paz.  They  approached  Flores  Olea, who was with a group of collaborators,  including  me.  Flores  Olea  held  out  his  hand  to  shake  Paz’s  before  Zedillo’s,  but  Paz  didn’t  shake  his  hand.  Finally


it  was  Zedillo  who  shook  Flores  Olea’s hand. A few days later, Flores  Olea left the Conaculta. And none  of us knew whether the new space  we had demanded for photography  was still in the cards or not. Patricia Mendoza (PM):  I  joined  the  National  Coordination  of  Temporary Exhibitions and Events  in  1990,  but  my  relationship  with  the  photography  community  had  begun  long  before  that,  for  both  work-related  and  personal  reasons. In 1981 I participated in the  organization  of  the  Second  Latin  American  Photography  Colloquy,  and that same year, I was accepted  as  a  member  of  the  Mexican  Photography Council, in spite of the  fact that I was an art historian and  not a photographer. Before I started  working  at  the  Council,  in  1979,  when I got back from London, Juan  Benito Artigas asked me to join the  Curso Vivo de Arte  at  the  unam’s  University  Museum  of  Science  and  Art.  I  proposed  something  I  called Current Art, which involved  going  to  museums  and  galleries  that showed contemporary art. It’s  around then I became friends with  people like the Pecas [the Pecanins  sisters, Ana María and Teresa] and  Miguel  Cervantes,  and  met  photographers like Gerardo Suter, who  in  turn  introduced  me  to  groups  like  El  Rollo.  This  is  when  I  also  first  came  in  contact  with  Pedro  Meyer,  and  I  was  teaching  history  of  photography  classes  at  the

Iberoamericana  University,  which  I  decided  to  complement  with presentations  and  talks  by  a  wide  range  of  photographers—even  from  groups  that  didn’t  really  get  along  with  each  other.  When  several  years  after  that  I  founded  the  Los  Talleres  en  Coyoacán  space,  I  had  maintained  my  relationships  with  photographers,  including  them  in  interdisciplinary  projects  as  of  then.  I  remember  very  well  a  show  of  archaeological  pictures  by  Suter  for  which  Fabio  Morábito  wrote  a  text  directly  on  the wall. After joining Pablo Ortiz  Monasterio’s  team  at  the  National  Coordination of Temporary Exhibitions and Events, I was aware of the  breakup  process  of  the  Mexican Photography  Council.  Agustín  Martínez  Castro,  who  was  also  part  of  the  Coordination’s  team,  asked  me  to  attend  the  meetings  the  Council  was  still  organizing.  I  only  went  to  one  and  realized  the  group  lacked  unity  and  that  they weren’t at all sure about what  they wanted to do. As always happens when a group splinters, they all  started  blaming  and  accusing  each  other.  There  was  nothing  left  to  keep  them  together.  They  no  longer  shared  a  dream:  they’d  lost  that  motivation  and  felt  enormously  guilty,  because  there  was  also a legacy to protect, particularly  a  collection  of  photographs  and  a  library.  I  learned  about  the  conflict  from  José  Luis  Neyra,  Lázaro  Blanco,  Armando  Cristeto,  Marco  454


Antonio Pacheco and also Agustín  Martínez Castro. No one else could  fill  the  leadership  role  that  Pedro  Meyer  had  played  at  the  Council.  The  Council’s  functioning  had  depended  on  Meyer’s  decisions  to  a great extent, and after his departure,  no  one  could  figure  out  a  new way of organizing things that  wasn’t based on the will of a single  individual—and besides, the situation in the country and in the cultural milieu had changed. Agustín  wanted  me  to  witness  what  was  going  on  at  the  Council  because  he  wanted  me  to  be  involved.  He  hoped  that  someone  like  me,  who  was on more or less friendly terms  with  everyone,  could  help  revive  the Council. But to me it was clear  that it unlikely that this would happen,  and  that  we  had  to  channel  our energies at creating something  new.   POM:  After  Flores  Olea  left  the  Conaculta,  we  had  to  present  the  project  for  a  new  photography  space again to his successor, Rafael  Tovar  y  de  Teresa.  We  didn’t  have  the same influence with Tovar y de  Teresa as we did with Flores Olea.  We  had  dealt  with  him  directly  and  had  had  some  disagreements  with him when we were mounting  Asamblea de Ciudades at the Palace  of Fine Arts. (In the end, he understood  the  point  of  the  show  and  retracted his opposition to some of  its  more  challenging  aspects,  like  showing  blow-ups  of  pages  from  455

Vea magazine in the Palace of Fine  Arts’  mezzanine.)  We  appealed  to  the  photography  community  to  lend  our  project  more  weight.  We  formed a commission that included  renowned  artists  like  Graciela  Iturbide,  Mariana  Yampolsky  and  Lourdes Grobet, as well as several  photojournalists. Given our experience  at  the  Mexican  Photography  Council, we knew we had to exert  pressure  as  a  coalition,  with  our  cameras  and  flashes  in  front  of  us.  Tovar  y  de  Teresa  received  the  commission  and  was  receptive  to  its  demands.  He  understood  the  importance  and  relevance  of  giving photography a space of its own,  of  lending  continuity  to  a  project  that  was  already  in  the  works.  At  that time the National Arts Center  (Cenart) didn’t exist yet, but it was  on  the  drawing  board.  Using  the  building on Uruguay Street turned  out to be unfeasible and we had to  think of other options.  PM:  The  photography  commission’s  meeting  with  Rafael  Tovar  y de Teresa happened in late 1992  or  early  1993,  I  can’t  remember  exactly. What I do remember is that  we  at  the  Coordination  wanted  to  take advantage of both the launch  of Luna Córnea magazine—whose  first  issue  was  published  in  late  1992—and the organization of the  first Fotoseptiembre festival to show  Tovar  y  de  Teresa  that  there  was  public  demand  and  a  lot  of  interest  for  photography.  To  organize


that  festival  I  went  on  a  genuine  crusade  to  convince  gallerists  and  museum  directors  to  exhibit  photography…  In  those  years,  Pedro  Meyer  was  establishing  himself  in  Los  Angeles  and  focusing  on  his own work and personal affairs.  I  found  out  about  the  project  that  Meyer  had  presented  to  Flores  Olea  in  Pablo  Ortiz  Monasterio’s  office,  who  from  his  post  at  the  National Coordination had become  the  Conaculta’s  main  negotiator  with  the  photography  community.  What  excited  me  most  about  that  project  was  its  name—Centro  de  la  Imagen.  To  talk  about  ‘images’  in general and not just about photographs seemed extremely important to me. I must still have some  notes  somewhere  where  I  started  thinking  about  the  possibilities  of  the  concept  of  ‘images.’  I  wasn’t  involved  in  defining  the  Centro  de la Imagen’s architectural structure—that  was  up  to  Pablo  and  Isaac  Broid,  the  architect  who  was  in  charge  of  the  project—but  I  did  help  find  the  space  where  it  was  finally  established,  in  front  of  the  Plaza  de  la  Ciudadela.  It  was  through  Ángeles  González  Gamio and Tulio Hernández, who  was then in charge of the Trust of  the  Historic  Center,  that  I  heard  about the unoccupied building on  Uruguay Street, near the Danubio  restaurant. In the end, although it  offered the best conditions for our  project,  we  couldn’t  occupy  that  building  because  of  legal  issues

with the property rights that, as far  as I know, are still pending today.  Then  I  found  out  from  Miriam  Molina,  the  director  of  the  Palace  of  Fine  Arts,  about  plans  to  convert  the  former  headquarters  of  the  School  of  Design  and  Crafts  [Escuela  de  Diseño  y  Artesanías  or  eda in Spanish] to host Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries—the  blockbuster  show  that  had  been  presented at the Met in New York.  Splendors of Thirty Centuries  was  too  big  to  be  shown  in  any  one  museum  of  the  Institute  of  Fine  Arts. The  eda’s former site, which  was abandoned and had even been  occupied  by  homeless  people,  had  plenty of space. I confess I shamelessly stole Miriam’s great idea and  immediately  told  Pablo  about  it,  and  then  he  presented  it  to  Tovar  y  de  Teresa.  He  agreed  with  the  plan of setting up the new Centro  de  la  Imagen  in  this  section  of  the  Ciudadela.  The  architectural  intervention  that  made  it  all  possible  was  done  months  before  the  Cenart opened.  POM:  The  Cenart  was  already  in  the works when the creation of the  Centro de la Imagen was decided.  Actually, the choice of Isaac Broid  as  the  architect  in  charge  of  converting  this  part  of  the  old  building  of  La  Ciudadela  had  to  do  with the way that the assignments  had  been  given  out  to  design  the  Cenart’s  various  research  centers  and schools. These buildings were  456


meant to be a showcase of Mexico’s  best  modern  architecture,  and  their design was entrusted to wellknown  architects.  Isaac  Broid,  who  clearly  qualified  as  one  of  these  architects,  wasn’t  considered in the process. I guess Tovar  y  de  Teresa  was  trying  to  be  fair  when he assigned the Centro de la  Imagen to him. Broid and I knew  each  other  because  we  had  both  been  tutors  at  the  National  Fund  for Culture and the Arts… At some  point  they  considered  the  possibility  of  adding  the  Centro  de  la  Imagen  to  the  Cenart  compound:  something we vigorously opposed.  We told ourselves it was “better to  be  a  big  fish  in  a  small  pond  …”  Again, with the community’s support,  we  resisted  pressure  from  the Conaculta to be just one more  building  among  the  others  under  construction  at  the  intersection  of  Tlalpan  and  Río  Churubusco.  Besides,  Isaac  Broid  had  already  drafted a project for the Ciudadela  that we were very excited about, and  the whole thing gathered momentum in our favor when news broke  out of a fire in the part of the building  that  had  been  assigned  to  us,  caused  by  homeless  people  who  used the abandoned building as a  shelter.  That’s  when  the  cultural  authorities realized that establishing the Centro de la Imagen there  eliminated the hazards associated  with its being abandoned, lending  new life to a building with historical value.  457

Isaac Broid (IB): When  we  first  visited  the  site  that  the  Centro  de  la  Imagen  now  occupies  it  was  a  disaster  area.  The  construction  of  the  Central  Library  that  had  opened  during  Miguel  de  la  Madrid’s term in  government had  not  touched  this  section  of  the  building,  located  on  the  corner  of  Plaza de la Ciudadela and Balderas  Avenue,  which  had  housed  the  School  of  Design  and  Crafts  for  many years. They’d run out of time  to do the work they had planned for  this space. This is what always happens: their term in government was  up.  That part of the building was  barricaded on all sides. There was  no  access  to  it  from  the  Library’s  courtyards or from the street. Even  the corridors between rooms were  blocked  off.  Glue  sniffers,  street  vendors  and  homeless  people  had  torn down the fences and occupied  the space. To get in we had to make  a  hole  in  a  wall.  It  was  a  stinking  mess…  Since  it  was  a  preexisting  building, we had to ask the person  in  charge  of  the  Central  Library  project, Abraham Zabludovsky, for  the  plans.  And  because  the  work  was being done in a section of the  building  that  he  felt  ‘belonged  to  him’—from  a  professional  point  of view—we had to get him to sign  off on the project, but the responsibility for the intervention (which  can’t  really  be  called  a  ‘remodeling’) was entirely my own, though  always  under  the  supervision  of  Pablo  Ortiz  Monasterio.  Since  the


building  was  classified  as  having  historical  value,  our  project  was  obviously  reviewed  by  the  people  in  charge  of  protecting  architectural  heritage.  With  the  architect  Juan  Urquiaga,  we  had  to  negotiate  the  modifications  I  considered  most important to make the space  functional, allowing what had been  built  in  the  past  to  coexist  with  the  needs  and  visions  of  the  present. Sometimes they tell me, “Oh!  You’re  who  remodeled  the  Centro  de  la  Imagen!”  and  my  answer  to  that is, “I didn’t remodel anything.  I’m  not  interested  in  remodeling  anything.  What  I  do  is  interventions  on  buildings.”  Because  just  as  Manuel  Tolsá  came  along  and  made a building of his time, well I  had to make a building of my time  that also had to do with new technology  (photography  in  this  case):  an  intervention  that  responded  to  the  time  in  which  it  was  made,  at  the  end  of  the  twentieth  century.  And  that’s  the  reason  behind  the  main  gesture—the  bridge  communicating  what  used  to  be  separate  rooms—which  doesn’t  follow  the  building’s  original  geometry,  but  doesn’t  oppose  it  either.  I  like  to say that what I did at the Centro  de  la  Imagen  was  to  build  a  piece  of  furniture,  which  can  be  dismantled at any time. Very few elements  actually  touch  the  original  building.  Obviously  they  have  to  touch  the  floor  because  we  can’t  work against gravity. But they don’t  touch the ceiling, they don’t touch

the walls. Just the beams—to support  the  elevated  walkways  that  Pablo  suggested  in  order  to  create  more enclosed spaces—but it’s just  the beams.  POM:  The  project  that  Meyer  proposed,  focusing  on  new  technologies,  finally  resulted  in  the  Multimedia Center that was incorporated  into  the  Cenart.  Broid’s  project,  in  terms  of  its  function,  had to respond to a traditional concept  that  required  exhibition  galleries,  administration  offices,  a  library, a space to edit Luna Córnea  and storage space for the artwork,  etc.  We  didn’t  have  a  big  budget  or  much  time.  They  spent  more  money  waterproofing  the  roofs  of  the  Central  Library’s  two  reading  rooms  than  on  the  Centro  de  la  Imagen.  But  the  outcome  is  noteworthy.  It  wasn’t  easy  to  convince  the people at the National Institute  of  Anthropology  and  History  to  open  the  bays  joining  the  exhibition  galleries  and  to  add  concrete  frames to all the walls. Broid gave  me  the  wherewithal  to  say,  “when  the  Centro  de  la  Imagen  closes,  forty years from now, we dismantle  the bridge and we close the spaces  off again; all we did was strengthen  the  walls—which  bear  the  weight of  the  roof—by  adding  reinforced  concrete  structures.”  Isaac  kept  telling us, “let the spaces be alive,  let  the  spaces  create  themselves.”  The  whole  architectural  project  was  defined  by  its  respect  for  the  458


building, so it would remain visible  and would be the main attraction. IB: It  was  a  complicated  moment  and  a  very  innovative  proposal.  We fought and fought and fought.  There  came  a  time  when  I  said,  “okay,  this  isn’t  going  to  happen.”  but  one  Saturday  night,  Pablo  called  me  and  said,  “the  work  starts  on  Monday.”  The  work  was  done  between  October  1993  and  March  1994.  Back  then,  there  weren’t many buildings in Mexico  with interventions of that kind. In  other  parts  of  the  world—mainly  in Spain and Italy—they had used  contemporary  architecture  to  give  new life to historical buildings. My  idea of the intervention we did can  be  summed  up  in  the  following  way:  respecting  what  exists  while  not  denying  the  present  moment,  matching the quality of the spaces  created  in  the  past  with  contemporary  proposals.  Protecting  the  past  while  working  towards  the  future.  These  are  the  challenges  of architecture that inserts itself in  buildings mislabeled as ‘historical’  because  no  construction  can  be  deemed  ‘a-historical.’  The  project  for the Centro de la Imagen—exhibition galleries designed expressly  for  photography—attempts  to  respond to these challenges with a  conclusive  gesture:  respecting  the  original eighteenth-century geometry  by  means  of  contrast.  This  is  how  the  new  project  is  laid  out:  in  orthogonal  terms,  its  geometry  459

does  not  follow  the  preexisting  one, and it remains freestanding to  leave the latter as intact as possible,  untouched.  This  concept  is  reiterated in the use of materials that differ  from  the  preexisting  ones  and  that  contrast  with  them  through  their  visual  weight,  textures,  and  colors.  The  original  walls  retain  their  white  plaster  finish  while  new  walls  will  be  of  exposed  concrete.  Load-bearing  walls  contrast  with  the  light  new  iron  structure;  concrete slabs contrast with woodbeam  ceilings;  each  period  is  displayed  in  the  space,  aware  of  its  association  with  the  ‘other,’  protecting  the  other’s  integrity  without damaging it. PM: The Centro de la Imagen was  at  first  the  outcome  of  the  photography  community’s  obsession,  because it was a dream shared by  many people to have a space that,  in the context of Mexico and Latin  America, would cater to photography  in  all  its  extraordinary  diversity.  I  think  that  ever  since  the  time of the Second Latin American  Photography Colloquy in the early  1980s,  people  had  started  thinking  about  a  space  like  this.  With  the  creation  of  the  Centro  de  la  Imagen—which  in  the  end  drew  on the legacy and experience of the  Mexican  Photography  Council— new perspectives opened up for the  creation, study and distribution of  photographic  work.  I  understood  it,  in  its  initial  phase  when  I  was


director, as a space to think about  images,  to  ponder  the  concept  of  the  image  as  an  inspiration  for  the culture of the end of one century and the beginning of another.   The perception that prevailed was  that  we  were  at  a  point  of  transition,  where  the  image  was  something that reached beyond what we  had  realized  until  then  in  terms  of  its  limits  and  possibilities.  A  point of transition and a pregnant  moment,  when  the  Centro  de  la  Imagen  had  to  be  a  key  in  terms  of  creating  a  new  understanding  of the image in all its forms: still,  cinematographic,  videographic,  virtual,  digital,  historic,  journalistic,  merging  with  other  art  media. I think that the importance  of  images  today,  multiplied  and

transformed by new technologies,  does  not  mean  this  initial  calling  of the Centro is no longer relevant.  It seems to me that much of what  we’ve  done  in  the  space  designed  by Broid—a building that does not  deny the past but that also aspires  to  the  future—has  gone  in  this  direction.  These are excerpts of interviews made by Valeria Vega and Alfonso Morales on September 14 and 16, 2011 (Patricia Mendoza), and September 26, 2011 (Isaac Broid and Pablo Ortiz Monasterio). The interviews were recorded and transcribed Alejandra Padilla Pola and edited by Alfonso Morales. Tr. Richard Moszka

460


THE SHUTTER AND THE GUILLOTINE Transgressions from a Case File ALFONSO MORALES CARRILLO

Alleged suspects We ignore the destiny that awaited  Ricardo  Alva  Rodríguez,  Adolfo  Arana  Ramírez,  Eduardo  de  la  Torre  Ochoa,  Salvador  Antonio  Terán  Sánchez,  and  Carlos  Tovar  García  as  persons.  They  were  accused in late 1973 of being assailants  whose  turf  was  La  Ciudadela  Plaza,  located  in  a  zone  that  for  all  practical  and  postal  concerns  was  considered  then,  as  now,  part  of  Mexico  City’s  historic  downtown  area.  Of  all  the  images  that  the countenances of these bandits  may  have  earned  or  required  over  the course of a lifetime, only these  share,  together  with  hundreds  of  other portraits, a box that measures  34 cm long, 29 cm wide and 6 cm  high  as  their  domicile,  one  that  bears  no  identification  other  than  a label that reads: Hanza Easel for  Enlarger, The Orniya Photo Supply  Co. LTD, Tokyo Japan. This  photographic  condominium,  populated  by  the  ghosts  of  men  and  women  accused  of  having  broken  the  law  in  different ways, is on loan to Luna Córnea  thanks to Yolanda Ortega, who for  the past decade has led her family’s  efforts  to  conserve  the  documentary  and  photographic  collections  that  provided  her  father,  Arturo  461

Ortega  Navarrete,  with  material  needed not only in his profession,  but also by private museums, or as  a  boundless  topic  of  conversation.  On  the  last  day  of  October,  2011,  the  eve  of  this  year’s  celebrations  honoring the dead, this box of mug  shots was re-opened on one of the  tables  where  the  publication  the  reader  now  holds  is  edited.  Alva  Rodríguez,  Arana  Ramírez  and  the  other  persons  accused  (who  knows  whether  justly  or  unjustly)  on  November  6,  1973,  of  stealing  in  the  vicinity  of  La  Ciudadela,  had returned to the scene of their  alleged crimes. This  was  not  the  first  time  that  Centro  de  la  Imagen,  headquarters  of  Luna Córnea,  had  exposed  the  factions  compiled  in  that  police  archive  of  rudimentary  filiations:  strips  of  negatives  wrapped in scraps of paper stamped  with what seemed to be their dates  of arrest, on which the same hand  had written the names and crimes  of  the  subjects  portrayed.  Sixteen  years  earlier,  with  the  consent  of  Don Arturo, the visual artist Carlos  Aguirre had ordered prints of dozens  of  these  portraits  so  that  they  could  form  part  of  an  installation  called  Images of Neoliberalism,  presented  in  the  southern  patio  rooms  of  the  museum  space  from  February  1  to  May  14,  1996.  Why  were  these  faces,  extracted  from  the underworld of the 1970s, scrutinized  by  the  police,  chosen  for  an  exhibition  that  alluded  in  its


title  to  an  indefensible  transnational economic model, one that in  Mexico had turned expectations of  modernization into crisis, political  repression, and social decay? The artist, the Vendor and the Warden Carlos  Aguirre  (Acapulco,  Guerrero,  1948),  a  former  member  of  the  Pentagon  Process  Group  and  a  visual  artist  who  had  already  developed a talent for re-signifying  objects  and  constructing  iconographic  assemblages,  showed  an  interest during the 1990s in deliberately formulated conceptual proposals,  decanted  to  the  utmost  of  their  formal  resources,  inspiring  political  reflection  and  confronting  the  rhetoric  of  dominant  discourse.  Like  others  who  cultivate  recycling,  Aguirre  could  often  be  found  at  La  Lagunilla  or  Ángel  Plaza,  two  of  the  most  frequented  weekend  flea  markets  in  Mexico  City.  It  was  at  the  latter  of  these  bazaars that he met and befriended  Don  Arturo  Ortega  Navarrete,  a  veteran  photographic  journalist  for  sports  publications  who,  as  a  vendor  specializing  in  traces  of  the past, wielded his prowess as a  highly retentive man (See the piece  Luna Córnea  dedicated  to  him  in  our  16th  issue,  dated  SeptemberDecember  1998).  He  placed  in  Aguirre’s  hands  the  same  file  of  portraits  that  another  photographer,  doubtless  ascribing  to  the  same bureaucracy as the guardians

of urban order, had composed as a  gallery of infamy. Yolanda  Ortega  recalls  her  father  commenting  that  these  criminal  filiations  were  acquired  from  Felipe  Islas,  a  military  man  who  was  one  of  General  Álvaro  Obregón’s followers and who, during  the  1920s,  already  boasting  the rank of colonel, was appointed  director of the Lecumberri penitentiary facility. Due to the familiarity  that,  from  what  we  have  seen,  he  still exercised in later years among  circles  that  harbored  detectives,  initiates, the accused, public ministers, defense lawyers, and coyotes,  Islas  had  passed  other  documents  along  to  Arturo  that  referred  to  police business and crime reports,  aware of Yolanda’s father’s interest  in these subjects. This collection of  mug shots was the last material to  fall into this category. If  we  rely  on  the  testimony  of  José  de  León  Toral,  a  devoted  Catholic  and  Cristero  militant  who  in  1928  assassinated  General  Obregón to keep him from occupying the presidency of the Republic  of  Mexico  a  second  time,  Felipe  Islas  was  by  no  means  a  sinister  regent  of  the  Black  Palace  of  Lecumberri. Among the drawings  and  notes  the  assassin  completed  before  being  led  before  the  firing  squad  to  pay  for  his  crime,  something he considered to have been a  sacrificial,  savior-like  act,  he  dedicated a few lines to thanking Islas  for the good treatment he received  462


at the hands of his jailers. In a communiqué addressed to the colonel’s  mother,  written  at  3  in  the  morning on the same day his death sentence  was  to  be  carried  out,  León  Toral wrote the following: Not having had the pleasure of making your acquaintance, I allow myself address these lines to you in order to congratulate you for the good hearts your sons, D. Felipe and Don Federico, possess: an inheritance you have bequeathed them. May God make you a Saint! Remember your humble servant in your prayers.

In  his  capacity  as  director  of  the  penitentiary,  it  fell  to  Felipe  Islas  to deliver the cadaver of the assassin  to  his  father,  Aureliano  de  León,  “for  the  corresponding  purposes of interment.” And yet Islas  remained  faithful  to  the  figure  of  the  general  who,  in  life,  he  had  respected  as  a  military  chief  and  political  leader.  In  fact,  an  article  of his—“The Flight of Obregón”— was  included  in  the  History of the Mexican Revolution  compiled  by  José  T.  Meléndez,  first  edited  by  the  Graphic  Workshops  of  the  Nation  in  1936.  In  order  to  relate  episodes  like  these,  which  he  witnessed,  and  others  that  he  knew  of because they formed part of the  collective  memory  of  his  peers,  Islas proposed that a photographic  album  be  put  together,  providing his version of the main events  that  framed  the  history  of  Mexico  463

between the Porfirian era and the  administration of General Manuel  Ávila  Camacho.  Indebted  to  the  sort  of  publications  edited  by  the  family of Agustín Víctor Casasola,  this  illustrated  compendium  was  to be presented as an Album of the Mexican Revolution.  As  far  as  we  know, Islas left this project unfinished. It is survived only by a cover  proposal  and  a  set  of  photographs  and  reproductions  documenting  some of the epic and tragic occurrences of the armed movement and  its political aftermath. The materials compiled for the elaboration of  the Album remained in the custody  of Don Arturo and afterwards, his  daughter  Yolanda,  before  Ramón  López  Quiroga  acquired  them  for  his  photograph  collection.  In  a  show  I  curated—Flotsam and Embers  (2010)—,  which  was  presented at the Casa del Lago of the  National  Autonomous  University  of Mexico as the result of my first  incursion into the corridors of the  world of images compiled by López  Quiroga,  the  Album  was  vindicated  precisely  because  it  was  an  unbound  tale  that  bestowed  upon  its  loose  fragments  new  possibilities of concatenation. The Empire of Law A  substantial  chronological  distance  separates  the  events  Felipe  Islas  intended  to  chronicle  in  his  Album of the Mexican Revolution and the context in which the mug  shots  that  Don  Arturo  Ortega


facilitated  to  Carlos  Aguirre  were  made.  As  guardian  of  the  final  days spent by the assassin of Álvaro  Obregón  in  Lecumberri,  having  witnessed his collapse when he was  shot down by the firing squad, Islas  had to be a man of a certain age by  the time these line-ups took place.  In  the  box  where  they  are  stored,  there is no evidence linking them  to  the  revolutionary  veteran.  The  dates stamped on their wrappings  indicate  that  most  of  them  were  taken from 1972 to 1974. Two years  later, the Lecumberri prison would  close its doors, only to be reopened  in 1977 as the General Archives of  the  Nation.  The  president  at  the  time—José  López  Portillo,  who  came  to  describe  himself  as  the  final  emissary  of  the  nationalist  revolutionary  creed—promised  us  a country where the wealth generated by the exploitation of the new  oil  reserves  would  make  social  inequality a thing of the past. But  the  accounts  rendered  entailed  debts  and  crises  that  would  mortgage Mexico’s future. In the early 1980s, the term  Neoliberalism  or  its  variants  had  not yet permeated the discourse of  politicians who felt it was possible  to  set  in  motion  once  again  a  system of government in ruins. What  this label might mean in terms of  joining  a  world  order  dominated  by  transnational  capital  and  free  play  in  favor  of  market  forces  first  showed its face timidly, out of austerity,  and  then  exultantly,  above

and beyond the call of propaganda,  during  the  administrations  of  Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado and  Carlos Salinas de Gortari –the latter,  under  the  banner  of  “social  liberalism.”  By  calling  an  installation  that  parted  from  the  exhumation  of  criminal  files  Images of Neoliberalism,  Carlos  Aguirre  was  proposing  an  equivalence  with  the imposition of a model that had  already  given  more  than  enough  proof  of  its  capacity  to  privatize  social  wealth,  leaving  it  in  the  hands  of  a  few  under  the  glaring  scrutiny  of  police  control.  The  looting of a nation’s resources and  simplification  of  individual  personalities were on a par with these  standardized,  homologizing,  dispassionate registries that originally  had no purpose other than to annex  the semblance of the accused to an  incriminating file or record. The  installation  presented  by  Carlos  Aguirre  at  Centro  de  la  Imagen  consisted  of:  a  contraption  similar  to  a  guillotine,  illuminated  by  bell  lamps;  a  horizontal line formed by the portraits  of  the  accused  that  ran  across  the  walls  of  various  rooms—prints  in  8  x  10  inch  format,  produced  as  a  series at a laboratory and mounted  directly  with  pins,  at  the  same  height  and  with  equal  spacing  between them—; and assemblages  of  the  same  portraits,  composed  of  strings  and  plastic  bags.  The  lamps transformed the contraption  into a set that evoked the renowned  464


decapitating machine perfected in  the  late  18th  century  during  the  French Revolution.  This reference  to  the  spectacle  that  public  trials  became could likewise refer to the  use  of  reflectors  as  tools  of  investigation,  torture,  accusation,  and  stigmatization. In  the  foul  dungeons  of  Mexican  justice,  at  a  time  when  another,  no  less  venal  police  force  had taken the place of sinister legend  Arturo  El Negro  Durazo— chief of Mexico City police during  the six-year administration of José  López Portillo—the blinding lights  of  reflectors  were  generally  used  in  interrogations  in  which  defendants  or  suspects  were  beaten,  humiliated,  and  bloodied  so  that  they  would  confess  their  culpability in crimes they were accused of,  regardless  of  whether  there  was  any  evidence  or  not.  The  procurement  of  judicial  truth  through  violent  methods  was  crowned  by  lights  that  were  no  less  aggressive  and  intimidating:  flashes  and  floodlights  were  used  by  a  variety  of reporters, particularly those specializing in crime sheets, to garner  images of fierce, wrongdoing criminals,  pitiless  monsters,  disgraced  officials, or fearsome capos, whose  subjugation  sanctioned  the  long  arm of the law. Through  an  independent  reading  suggested  by  the  title  of  Images of Neoliberalism,  a  relationship  may  be  established  between  the  guillotine  and  the  line-up  of  465

frontal  portraits,  stripped  of  any  information  regarding  the  subjects  being  represented  who  were  forced  to  pose,  to  hand  over  their  images as a down payment on their  debt  to  society,  thus  transforming  Carlos  Aguirre’s  montage  into  a  reflection  regarding  the  photographic portrait as a symbolic form  of decapitation. I wanted to see the  development of this proposition in  his work: the camera that had produced the filiations being exhibited  and  the  guillotine  that  evoked  an  ancient form of meting out justice;  the  former  activated  by  its  shutter,  the  latter,  by  its  blade,  resulting in the separation of heads and  faces  from  the  bodies  with  which  they  had  constituted  a  person  or  individual, from whose palpitating  unity  only  an  inert  trophy  would  remain, a grimace of resemblance,  a scrap of physiognomy. While this  split  between  countenance  and  biography  was  implicit  in  all  photographic  portraiture,  it  became  even  more  evident  in  nameless  and unnamable faces: such was the  case of Images of Neoliberalism. Southern Patio Consulted  regarding  the  process  that led to the realization of Images of Neoliberalism,  Carlos  Aguirre  was  unable  to  recall  whether  his  encounter with the archive of mug  shots preceded Patricia Mendoza’s  invitation  for  him  to  exhibit  at  the  Centro  de  la  Imagen  or  if,  on  the  contrary,  the  discovery  of  this


collection  of  portraits  led  him  to  propose  a  show.  He  is  well  aware,  on  the  other  hand,  that  the  director/founder of Centro de la Imagen  had told him about the historic antecedents  of  La  Ciudadela,  between  whose  walls  the  military,  rebels,  orphans, and prisoners once lived.  Mendoza  succeeded  in  annexing  the  patio  where  the  installation  was mounted after convincing the  director  of  the  Library  of  Mexico,  poet  Jaime  García  Terrés,  to  give  her the space he thought to designate,  partly,  to  providing  services  for  the  seeing  impaired  public.   García  Terrés  thought  it  a  good  idea  for  a  place  dedicated  to  the  promotion of visual culture would  value  the  sensitivity  of  the  blind.  This  commitment  was  fulfilled  by  Patricia  Mendoza  encouraging  editorial, curatorial and radio projects in which photography was the  stimulus that appealed not only to  the  sense  of  sight,  polemicizing  along the way the rigid notions that  reserve  images  for  photographers  only. Due to its mission of broadening  the  conceptions  and  practices  of photography, the southern patio  became  a  receptacle  for  projects  that  utilize  the  resources  of  this  media,  but  that  respond  first  and  foremost  to  the  quests  of  contemporary  art  in  the  nineties.  Images of Neoliberalism. by simultaneously  exploring iconographic archeology,  conceptual  art,  and  political  criticism,  showed  the  wealth  of  possibilities in this combination.

Crimes over Time The  reconstruction  of  Images of Neoliberalism began with the recovery  of  photographic  registries  that  provided  data  regarding  its  content: images of the guillotine in the  patio  and  of  the  mug  shots  lined  up  inside  neighboring  rooms.  After  Carlos  Aguirre  confirmed  to  me  the  influence  that  Don  Arturo  Ortega,  a  mutual  friend,  had  over  this  project,  he  gave  me  some  good  news:  the  prints  used  in  the  installation  continued  to  form part of his archive. I was then  awarded another look at the anonymous  faces,  facilitated  by  the  artist,  that  had  confronted  me  at  the  1996 exhibition. Inquiries ensued,  and  fortunately,  Yolanda  Ortega,  who  was  the  bearer  of  more  good  news,  joined  in:  beyond  a  doubt,  the  prints  used  by  Aguirre  were  from  the  archive  her  father  had  obtained by way of Felipe Islas, the  very same that five years or so earlier  he  had  shown  me  when  I  visited  his  home  during  the  course  of  another  investigation.  My  second inspection of the box, which I  carried out with the help of Ángel  Armando Moreno Benítez, offered  me  greater  perspective  in  terms  of  understanding  both  the  Images of Neoliberalism  of  Carlos  Aguirre  and the collection of portraits upon  which it was based. Unlike  Aguirre’s  montage,  the box provided the names of the  subjects  being  photographed  and  the criminal charges against them:  466


Alicia  Ramírez  Maín  (prostitute,  maid  with  sticky  fingers),  Manuel  Córdoba Gutiérrez (counterfeit lawyer),  Luis  González  Gómez  (pervert and thug), Teresa Flores Cano  (grifter),  Ludovina  Hernández  Ruiz  (fencer),  Agustín  González  Cruz  (wife  beater  and  murderer),  Ricardo  Ramírez  Aguascalientes  (robber of cab drivers)... With these  few  clues  in  sight,  the  mug  shots  seemed  to  build  a  new  panorama,  one that provided access to daily life  in  the  mid-1970s,  breathing  fresh  life into the line-up, even if only to  reinsert  the  suspects  in  the  social  margins  they  had  originally  occupied.  Aguirre  was  evidently  not  interested  in  making  these  filiations a historic or sociological document. Aware of their police origin,  he wanted only to glean from them  the  helpless,  despairing,  fucked

467

up,  enraged  expressions  needed  to  reconfigure  them  as  a  political  critique.  His  generic  denunciation  of  the  ravages  of  Neoliberalism— white  collar  crimes  that  reek  of  cologne,  after  all—would  have  shifted  into  other  zones  if  he  had  taken  into  account  these  precise  references that remit us to a criminal  world  fixed  in  another  time,  obeying other circumstances. Images  of  Neoliberalism  of -  fer ed  additional  proof  that  photographs  do  not  say  the  same  thing  when  observed  from  a  different  standpoint  and  with  a  different  purpose. I found it enriching to see  these mug shots through the eyes  of  Carlos  Aguirre.  Interrogating  them as children of their own time  will be just as satisfying. Tr. Tanya Huntington


THE ABANDONED BODY MAURICIO ORTIZ And supposing thy mission fulfilled They will approach thee, and their gaze Will give thee eternal farewell. Manuel Acuña. Before a Corpse

1. The  hitman  chambers  a  round,

raises the gun barrel to his victim’s  forehead, and fires. The cadaver collapses and is left there, on the turf. Yes,  on  the  turf,  because  atrocities  are  nothing  without  proper staging, and this one takes  place  on  soccer  field.  Saturday,  October 15, Jalisco Stadium, on the  13th “cabalistic” day of the Opening  Tournament of 2011, Chivas versus  Tecos. We are in minute 32 of the  first  half  when  midfielder  Marco  Fabián,  number  8,  takes  the  ball  across  the  central  circle,  advances  a  few  yards  and  is  relieved  by  Medina, the Stag, who effortlessly  returns  the  favor  with  a  backheel  tap;  Fabián  has  traced  a  diagonal  to his left so that when he receives  the  pass,  he  is  on  the  edge  of  the  goal  area  and  has  shaken  off  his  marker;  he  moves  forward  a  few  steps, takes a straight shot with his  left foot and the ball gets past the  goalie, grazing the base of the post  on  the  right.  An  amazing  goal,  indeed.  The  second  for  Chivas,  who  wound  up  winning  5-2,  and  the  first  in  the  hat  trick  Fabián  would score over the course of the  game.

Fabián  rushes  to  celebrate,  and the Stag follows suit. Suddenly, they both stop and position themselves  face  to  face.  Fabián  acts  as  if  he  were  chambering  a  round,  takes  the  barrel  of  his  index  finger to the Stag’s forehead. You can  almost hear the click of his tongue.  The  Stag  collapses  and  for  a  few  moments, is a cadaver on the field. The  image  went  global,  earning  harsh  words  in  the  electronic  media,  printed  press,  and  social networks. The “severely criticized celebration,” the polemic performance,”  the  “hitman  striker,”  the  “macabre  little  gun,”  the  “immaturity,”  the  “lack  of  intelligence” occupied microphones and  front  pages,  and  the  photograph  was  reproduced  a  thousand  and  one  times  over.  There  was  talk  of  exaltation  of  violence,  irresponsibility,  absolute  insensitivity  given  the  seriousness  of  the  situation.  There  were  those  who  wanted  to  see  in  their  celebration  a  protest  against  “Calderón’s  War,”  and  there  were  those  who  wished  to  minimize it as a childish game of  cops and robbers. The commotion  was such that the management of  Chivas  had  to  issue  a  statement  lamenting the occurrence, and the  clever  midfielder  was  obliged  to  donate  a  million  pesos  to  a  charitable institution. More  than  the  instant  disqualification,  or  the  scandalized  tone  adopted  by  good  Samaritans  in  the  media,  or  the  obviousness  468


of  their  politicizing  commentary,  what  interests  me  about  what  took  place  on  the  field  of  Jalisco  Stadium  is  its  register  as  a  symptom  of  the  times  our  country  is  going  through.  Unawares,  Marco  Fabián  and  Alberto  Medina  nonetheless  configured  through  their  performance  an  accurate  metaphor—thus, the outcry—of a land  sickened  by  killing.  In  a  playful  manner,  surfing  the  euphoria  of  that  electric  moment  after  a  goal  is scored, a highly visible speck of  the  social  body  manifested,  once  again,  the  evil  that  has  befallen  us, but this time in a concentrated  fashion.  It  is  doubtless  an  exaggeration  to  see  here  the  involuntary  theater  of  the  absurd  that  is  the narcocorrido, that is Viruta and  Capulina. It  may  be  no  coincidence  that  this  symptom  manifested  itself  within  24  hours  following  the  gala  2011  inauguration  of  the  16th  Pan-American  Games  of  Guadalajara,  held  in  the  Omnilife  Stadium  that  is  now  home  to  the  Chivas, who for that reason had to  play  in  Jalisco  Stadium.  Political  and  sports  authorities,  banners,  cadets,  charros,  country  music,  popular  musical  groups,  the  latest  in  technology:  scenery,  as  the  commentators never tired of pointing  out,  and  as  was  repeated  in  self-satisfied,  “first  world”  afterdinner  conversations.  An  entire  organ  of  the  social  body,  an  official organ, was shown to the world  469

perfectly  groomed  and  spruced  up, in a manner of speaking, with  the  exaggerated  affectation  of  one  who is not entirely sure of himself:  “The fatherland you slay is in perfect health.” The pain of that social body  that  says  no,  sir,  in  some  way,  is  sublimated  by  what  pathways  in  this  curious  symptom:  a  banal,  simplistic  occurrence,  of  dubious  taste  if  you  will,  frivolous,  unsubstantial,  but  one  that  reaches  millions  at  the  most  opportune,  or  most  inopportune  moment,  one  that  all  the  world  comments  on  and that says something to all the  world? The inroads of the collective  subconscious are unfathomable. After  celebrating  the  goal,  the referee confronted the hit man,  Fabián,  and  like  a  member  of  the  police  force,  dealt  him  a  yellow  card.  One  wonders:  why  didn’t  he  call foul on the cadaver? 2.  Of  the  two  symbols  that  the

Fabián-Medina  equation  is  composed of, hitman and cadaver—the  sign  equating  them  would  be  the  murder  weapon—the  latter,  the  one who wasn’t admonished, is the  one  who  concerns  me  here.  As  a  symbol,  the  hitman  is  inconstant,  elusive, proteic, stealthy, and dark.   Although  rumor  has  it  that  “cadaver”  it  is  a  portmanteau,  an  acronym  originating  in  a  lapidary  Roman  phrase,  caro data vermibus  (flesh given to the worms), in reality, the word is entirely transparent


in its etymology: it is structured by  the  Latin  verb  cadere,  to  fall,  and  the noun vir, man, male. A cadaver  is, in essence, the fall guy. In order to become a ca dav e r,  of  course,  one  must  prove  according to law the “loss of life” in  the fallen body, something that has  always been accomplished in a very  simple  fashion:  you  corroborate  that the person is no longer breathing and that the heart has stopped  beating. Then come the eyes: dilated  pupils that do not respond to light,  no  blinking  whatsoever  when  the  cornea  is  rubbed,  and  an  absence  of  ocular  movements  when  the  head is brusquely turned or when  water,  cold  or  hot,  is  introduced  into the ear. These are stilled eyes  that progressively become opaque,  faster still when they are left open. Due  to  the  development  of  medical  technology  capable  of  artificially  maintaining  both  respiration  and  heartbeat,  and  obeying the growing industry of organ  and tissue transplants, on occasion  it  is  difficult  to  corroborate  death  and we find it necessary to turn to  the  concept  of  brain  death,  which  has been in use for half a century  now: the complete and permanent  absence  of  consciousness,  indifference  to  painful  stimuli  and  irreversible  damage  to  the  brainstem,  manifested  by  the  absence  of  certain  reflexes.  In  Mexico,  the  certification  of  brain  death  must  be  corroborated  by  two  laboratory

tests:  a  bilateral  angiography,  which  demonstrates  the  absence  of  circulation  in  the  brain,  and  a  “flat”  electroencephalogram,  that  is to say, without the characteristic  waves of neuronal electric activity,  obtained on two different occasions  within a five-hour limit. An amazing  invention,  and  one  that  continues  to  be  horrific:  the  cadaver  that breaths and whose heart beats,  the  oxygenated  cadaver,  the  living  cadaver (albeit in a purely histological sense). Aside  from  these  extreme  cases,  which  continue  to  be  few  and  far  between,  once  life  is  lost,  the body undergoes a series of progressive  changes:  the  cadaveric  phenomena.  It  grows  cold—algor mortis—at  a  rate  of  1o  C  per  hour  during  the  first  twelve  hours,  and  after  that  more  slowly  until  room  temperature  is  matched  within  24  hours,  with  variations  that  depend  on  the  climate,  of  course,  or  whether  the  death  took  place  inside  a  home  or  out  in  the  open,  not to mention whether the person  was  nude  at  the  time  of  death  or  warmly clothed. During  the  first  hours  post mortem  the  cadaveric  lividness  – or  livor mortis—starts  to  appear.  These  are  purplish  stains  found  in the declining parts of the body,  where gravity pools the blood that no  longer  circulates.  During  the  first 24 hours, if the body is moved  or  its  position,  changed,  the  lividness is displaced following gravity,  470


but  not  without  leaving  a  trace  of  where it first was. Also  very  rapidly,  within  three or four hours, a characteristic  rigidity sets in—rigor mortis—that  runs from head to foot; this is due  to the degradation of the biochemical  system  of  muscles,  and  disappears  entirely  between  24  and  30  hours post mortem, when the signs  of  decomposition  begin  to  manifest themselves and the body starts  to  emit,  with  increasing  intensity,  its frightfully characteristic smell. The  first  stage  of  decomposition  is  known  as  “chromatic,”  because  the  cadaver  turns  green,  due  to  sulfurous  gases  and  a  drop  in  hemoglobin.  What  once  was  red  is  now  green.  A  greenish  stain manifests itself on the abdomen,  and  the  superficial  veins  of  the  arms,  legs,  and  thorax  turn  dark  green.  In  violent  deaths,  the  decomposition  becomes  apparent  first wherever wounds exist. During  the  “emphysematous”  stage  of  decomposition,  one  that runs from 36 to 72 hours post mortem, the gases produced by the  bacteria  inhabiting  the  body  distend  the  face,  abdomen,  scrotum,  or vulva and the skin itself, where  blisters  are  produced  and  grow  until  breaking.    Due  to  gas  pressure, the final meal may be regurgitated  and  it  is  also  possible  that  the last feces will be expelled. From  then  on,  what  takes  place in a cadaver depends on what  its final resting place was. In water,  471

body  fat  turns  to  adipocere,  an  insoluble, yellowish soap of gelatinous  consistence  and  rancid  odor,  which is produced throughout the  first  year.  In  a  dry,  warm  climate,  the cadaver can become a mummy,  and  in  a  humid  one,  liquefaction  ensues. In a drum filled with acid,  the corpse simply disappears. A cadaver is no longer considered to be a cadaver once it becomes  a  skeleton  (or  a  mummy),  which,  depending  on  accelerant  or  retardant  factors,  as  forensic  specialists  call  them,  will  take  place  within  three to five years after death. According to Isidoro of Seville  (Etymologies,  Volume  XI),  the  cadaver  is  the  unburied  body.  Cadaver autem est, si insepultum iacet.  If  the  body  has  received  a  proper  burial,  it  is  no  longer  a  cadaver. 3. The General Law of Health (Title

Fourteen,  Chapter  V,  Article  347)  distinguishes two kinds of cadaver:  I.  Of  persons  known,  and  II.  Of  persons  unknown.  “Cadavers  that  are not claimed within seventy-two  hours following the loss of life and  those whose identity is ignored will  be considered unknown persons.” Seemingly obvious, in addition  to  having  practical  significance with regards to red tape and  the  processing  of  mortal  remains,  this  definition  contains  an  important clue in terms of the continuity  of  the  cadaver,  its  permanence  as  such.


When the deceased is a person  close  to  us,  especially  if  their  death took place in the home, surrounded by those who loved them  in life, the one who is resting there  in  peace  hardly  ever  becomes  a  cadaver.  “The  deceased”  has  “passed  away,”  he  is  “our  dearly  departed,”  and  one  addressed  him  by  name,  affectionately.  Not  long  ago  I  attended  a  wake  and  the  daughter  of  the  person  whose  remains were being honored there  invited  me to approach  the coffin,  saying, “Just look at Mom, so beautiful,  they  made  her  real  pretty.”  And there was her Mom, who was  no  cadaver.  This  was  just  Doña  Inés dressed as a Tehuana Indian,  rosy cheeked, her hands crossed on  her chest, dearly departed. Cremation, embalming, the  confines of the coffin, the surprising custom of dissecting the body  or parts of it: all this puts an end to  the cadaver. There are ashes, there  is  funeral  pomp,  there  are  relics,  there are stones with names, dates,  and  perhaps  an  epitaph,  but  there  is no more corpse. In statistics, we  see  deaths,  not  cadavers;  in  preliminary investigations, we see victims,  a  special  noun  reserved  for  those who met a violent death. Type I is a fleeting cadaver,  one that lasts only as long as it takes  relatives  to  claim  it.  The  cadaver  that  remains—the  one  we  mean  when we say “cadaver”—is type II,  the  body  no  one  cares  about,  one  that  does  not  set  into  motion  any

mourning or burial, except in mass  graves. It is the body of the young,  beautiful  prostitute  that  Whitman  sings to in “The City Dead-House,”  which “lies on the damp brick pavement.” It is a body without a name,  a  body  exposed,  left  out  in  the  open: a body abandoned. 4.  Once  note  has  been  taken  of

the  place  where  it  was  found,  the  next  order  of  business  is  to  establish  the  cadaver’s  position.  Lying  face  down—ventral  decubitus  or  supine—; lying on one side, seated,  or  in  a  kneeling  position—genupectoral—;  bodies  in  suspension,  in submersion, or carbonized in a  boxing or fencing stance.  Indications  of  the  cause  of  death  are  explored  and  the  development  of  cadaveric  phenomena  proven  in  order  to  establish  what the  forensic  specialist  knows  as  a  thanatochronodiagnostic, that is to  say, the approximate length of time  that the body has been a cadaver.   But what is that lying there,  in a determined position, with the  traces of whatever took its life and,  to a greater or lesser degree, decomposed  it?  It  is  no  longer  a  person,  that much is clear. Therefore, it is  a thing. A  thing,  but  nonetheless,  as  the  jurists  would  say,  a  most  peculiar thing. It cannot be considered property, according to what is  established  by  law,  nor  is  it  possible, in one or all of its parts, to patent it. That is to say, it is excluded  472


from the traffic of men, except for  the  immediate  services  that  are  proffered  in  order  to  dispose  of  it  in a definitive manner. Being  a  thing,  up  until  it  was  considered  as  such,  it  was  a  subject  with  rights,  and  therefore,  may very well have made arrangements  for  its  future  management  and  destiny.  It  may  have  decided  whether it would become a supply  of transplants or not, if there would  be  an  autopsy  or  not,  if  it  would  end  up  being  ashes  scattered  over  Acapulco  Bay,  or  conserved  in  formaldehyde  on  a  marble  table  at  the  School  of  Medicine,  or  devoured  by  vultures  among  the  Tibetan peaks. A  thing  imbued  with  history  and  traditions.  A  thing  that,  once  again  under  law,  must  be  treated  “with  respect,  dignity,  and  consideration.”  There  are  those  who  set  up  curious  destinies  for  that  future  thing  based  on  a  peculiar  notion  of  respect  for  itself:  dignity  and  consideration.  The  case  of  Puerto  Rican rapper Ángel Luis Pantojas,  alias  Pedrito,  comes  to  mind.  In  August  2008,  at  age  24,  he  was  murdered  by  11  gunshots  and  is  globally  known  as  the  “standing  dead”:  Pedrito  willed  that  his  embalmed  cadaver  would  be  placed standing at the corner of his  apartment, so that he could preside  over  his  own  wake.  The  example  caught on among the Boricua and  was  soon  repeated,  with  a  slight  473

variation:  David  Morales  Colón,  also  shot  down  at  age  22,  chose  to attend his own funeral riding a  motorcycle. No longer being, as we  have agreed, a cadaver, exactly, but  some  other  thing,  one  would  feel  obliged to define a new position of  forensic interest: that of host. What  this  is  all  about  is  exhibiting the body of the dead for  everyone  to  see—and  yes,  there  were long lines in Suan Juan—but  what I have never heard of is someone willing the contrary, that is to  say:  “let  no  one  see  my  cadaver,”  although  modern  custom  already  takes charge, insofar as possible, of  making sure that it is hidden. What  happens  when  there  is  an  explicit,  testamentary  prohibition  against  photographing  that  future thing? 5.  Currently,  in  Mexico,  over  half

a  million  cadavers  are  processed  each year. To be precise, in 2009,  according to data from the National  Institute  of  Statistics,  Geography  and  Data  (INEGI),  there  were  564,637  that  had  to  be  taken  care  of.  Of  these,  55%,  that  is  to  say,  301,192 cadavers, belonged to men  and  women  over  the  age  of  65,  who  died  mostly  of  heart  disease,  diabetes  mellitus,  and  malignant  tumors.  Violent  forms  of  death  produced  that  same  year  a  total  of  64,449  cadavers,  11.4%  in  all,  divided  into  the  three  headings  comprised by this category: 39,456


persons  died  in  mishaps  of  some  kind  (17,816  in  traffic  accidents);  5,190  committed  suicide,  mainly  men  and  above  all,  by  hanging  or  gunshot;  and  19,803  people  died  from  “aggressions,”  which  is  the  bureaucratic  euphemism  used  to  refer to homicide. While  violent  death  in  general  is  what  produces  the  most  spectacular  cadavers,  the  cadaver  of  a  murdered  person  is,  shall  we  say,  the  most  cadaver  of  them  all,  the  most  abandoned  corpse.  It  is  the  most  convincing  cadaver,  the  most  striking,  the  most  resounding;  the  one  that  most  interests  the  authorities,  the  one  that  is  snatched up by the media, the one  that society finds truly disturbing;  to  say  it  once  again,  the  cadaver  that is most symbolically pure. Although  those  produced  by  homicide  represented  in  2009  only  one-third  of  violent  death  cadavers in the country and a discreet 3.5% of total cadavers, according  to  the  discourse  of  power,  in  public  opinion,  from  the  people’s  perspective, and in collective imagery, they represent 100% of cadavers nationwide. Moreover,  the  cadavers  produced  by  homicide  tend  to  represent  the  total  group  of  living  persons they come from and thus,  for  example,  the  72  bodies  found  in August, 2010, in San Fernando,  Tamaulipas  suddenly  became  all Central American migrants, regard less  of  the  thousands  who  at

that  very  moment  continued,  and  still  continue  today,  moving  about  Mexico  in  search  of  the  American  mirage. The  elevated  symbolic  po ten tial  is  what  positions  this  cadaver,  as  soon  as  it  is  found,  in  the  midst  of  a  harsh  struggle  for  characterization.  The  government  and  a  major  sector  of  the  press  rush  in  to  classify  it  as  type  II— where the category “unknown person”  becomes  “criminal”—while  the  victim’s  relatives,  a  number  of  voices  in  the  media  and  some  non-governmental  organizations  and social movements demand its  status as a type I cadaver, a known  person, be recognized. In  a  case  like  that  of  Juan  Francisco Sicilia, the high visibility  of Javier, his father, made it possible for this struggle to be resolved  in a matter of hours. Very soon, his  was  no  longer  a  cadaver,  and  the  symbol it was traded in for came to  represent  all  the  numerous  innocent victims of this historic screwup, vis-à-vis foul play, that we have  grown  accustomed  to  calling  the  “war against organized crime,” one  that requires, in order to subsist, an  accumulation  of  precise  cadaveric  symbols  like  bronze  statues:  the  unknown  criminal,  the  unknown  drug lord, the unknown soldier. The  murdered  women  of  Juárez immediately become brazen  type IIs, libertines and whores. How  hard it has been to restitute them to  type I, the daughter, the sister, the  474


granddaughter,  the  young  woman  who possesses a first and last name. The  two  youths  murdered  by the army in Monterrey in March  2010,  or  the  three  people  murdered,  also  by  the  army,  in  the  outskirts  of  Jalapa  in  June  2011,  started  out  as  “hitmen,”  that  is  to  say, another formula favored by the  type II cadaver, and it was no easy  task for their identities and evident  innocence  as  students,  engineers,  or  construction  workers  to  transcend. Where did this leave general  perception in these cases? And  what  to  say  about  the  symbolic  evacuation—both  uproarious  and  grotesque—that  followed  the  death,  in  spring  of  2007,  of  Ernestina  Ascensión  Rosario,  the  Nahua  woman  from  the Zongolica mountains: a tumultuous rape by soldiers vs. President  Calderón’s  gastritis  and  the  forensic doctor’s parasitosis. Fresh  examples  and  macabre  anecdotes  have  accumulated  quickly over the past few years, and  the symbolic labyrinth has become  increasingly complex. Fernando  Escalante  Gonzal bo  (Nexos  381,  September  2009,  and  397,  January  2011)  has  analyzed  in  detail  the  trends  of  homicides  in  Mexico  from  1990  to  2009.  The  national  rate  has  ranged from a maximum of 19.72  homicides for every 100 thousand  residents  in  1992,  to  a  minimum  of  8.04  in  2007,  a  clear  and  constant  downward  trend.  In  2008  475

and  2009,  however,  homicides  rebound in an “absolutely improbable”  fashion,  breaking  with  that  sustained  trend,  but  “moreover  in  an  extremely  violent  manner.  In  two  years,  the  national  rate  returned to 1991 levels. It jumped  50% in 2008, and another 50% in  2009.” In the first of these articles,  Escalante  asks  himself:  “… one  would  have  to  explain  why  this  general  reduction  in  violence  in  the country as a whole was diminished,  and  one  would  also  have  to  explain  why  social  perception  is  exactly  the  opposite.”  In  other  words,  what  takes  place  in  this  period  is  a  disassociation,  a  divergent gap, between the rate of  actual violent production of cadavers and the symbolic production of  the cadaver, which soared perhaps  in  1994  as  a  result  of  the  cadavers  of  the  Zapatista  rebellion  in  Chiapas—type  II  cadavers  for  all  practical  intents  and  purposes— and  the  cadavers—type  I  superlative—of Luis Donaldo Colosio and  José Francisco Ruiz Massieu. A disassociation that approaches annulment in the escalation  of deaths from 2008-2009, where  the actual rate is the one being displaced  upwards,  as  if  wanting  to  catch  up  to  that  symbolic  trend,  demonstrating thus its overpowering  strength.  We  shall  see,  when  the  figures  from  2010  and  2011  are in, what extent this symbol has  reached.


For the time being, there is  nothing  to  indicate  that  this  symbol  has  been  appeased.  Escalante  shows  how  the  growth  of  the  homicide rate, while patent nationwide,  shows  “extreme  violence”  in  specific  regions:  where  gradually  expanding  joint  operations  of  the  army,  marines  and  federal  police have unfolded. Young cadavers,  mostly  men,  are  concentrated  above  all  in  the  following  nine  states:  Baja  California,  Chihua-  hua,  Durango,  Guerrero,  Michoacán, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Sinaloa, and  Sonora. The  homicides  in  and  of  themselves  also  reveal  an  escalation  in  symbolic  aspirations.  The  cadavers  increasingly  show  signs  of torture, the tortures are increasingly depraved and from the end of  times, the most accomplished sign  of  the  symbolic  use  of  bodies  has  appeared:  the  humiliation  of  the  cadaver. Decapitation did not be co me  fashionable  in  our  country  as  the  humanitarian  form  of  execution  Doctor  Guillotine  cited  to  justify  his  invention.  It  became  fashionable  as  a  way  of  intensifying the  cadaver:  these  are  post mortem  decapitations. They  are  not  just  headless  cadavers: they are cadavers without  hands  or  feet,  cadavers  wrapped  in  plastic,  cadavers  dissolved  in  acid,  cadavers  hanging  from  overpasses,  cadavers  bitten  by  dogs,  cadavers  buried  tumultuously  in

clandestine,  shallow  mass  graves.  And  the  most  recent  turn  of  the  screw for this symbol, in September  2011:  cadavers  en masse—35!— piled up on the asphalt outside the  most  popular  shopping  center  in  Boca del Rio, Veracruz, a few yards  away  from  the  Convention  Center  where the following day none other  than  the  National  Encounter  of  Presidents of Superior Courts and  Attorney  Generals  of  Justice  was  to  be  held.  As  far  as  torture  and  extreme cruelty against people and  the profanation of their cadavers is  concerned, what this pitiless symbol demands in order to truly come  into  being  is  exhibition:  brazen,  public exhibition. 6.  For  most  people,  confronting  a

cadaver  is  deeply  traumatic:  there  is  an  automatic  rejection,  nausea,  fright.  And  at  the  same  time  as  this emotional blow there is a curiosity, an attraction, an insane fascination. There is a not wanting, yet  wanting to see at the same time. This vertigo of the gaze has  long been exploited in the creation  of images, although never so much  as since the advent of photography and,  above  all,  its  contemporary  development. Photojournalism has  made the cadaver its specialty, and  art photography has taken it up as  one of its more substantial themes. It  should  come  as  no  surprise, then, that in recent years an  abundant  harvest  of  cadavers  has  paraded past the lenses of Mexican  476


photographers.  The  crime  sheet  image,  traditionally  prohibited  beyond  the  scope  of  specialized  publications,  jumped  to  the  front  page  of  newspapers  while  at  the  same  time,  the  cadaver  began  to  make  its  presence  known  in  exhibitions, biennials, magazines, and  photography books. Which  confirms,  curiously  enough,  that  art  photography  and  photojournalism  have  gradually  come together in their approach of  this  subject:  cadavers  are  posed  to  look  like  real  cadavers,  real  cadavers  look  posed,  and  real  cadavers  are  made  to  look  as  if  they  were  posing. I find in this confluence an  extraordinary  discovery:  the  symbol  of  the  cadaver  as a cadaver.  The  abandoned  corpse,  the  thing,  before  and  after  becoming  a  symbol  of  something  more:  the  deceased,  passed  away  or  dearly  departed,  innocent  victim,  statistic,  sexual  object,  organized  criminal,  hitman,  unknown  soldier,  standing  dead,  a  symptom  of  the  bleeding fatherland in the celebration  of  a  magnificent  goal.  The  cadaver, symbolically pure at last.

7. Forever a cadaver. The gaze that  rests on it does not provide an eternal farewell these days; something  is  demanded  of  it  still,  as  if  its  mission  had  not  been  completely  fulfilled. Necrophilia—sexual  fetishism, paraphilia—ineffably requires  something  from  the  cadaver  Necromancy or nigromancy, an ancient  reverence  to  the  mystery  of  death,  present  in  the  nekya  of  Odysseus,  his  descent  to  Hades  in  search  of  advice,  and  dazzlingly  present also in the Pharsalia of Lucan,  demands of the cadaver a prophetic  intent.  Might  we  speak,  here  and  now,  of  necropolitics,  the  politics  that,  akin  to  necrophilia  and  necromancy,  demands  of  the  cadaver  various missions impossible: gaining adepts, winning elections, controlling territories, and amassing a  power that unavoidably escapes us? 8.  I  return  to  the  eyes  of  the

cadaver,  those  soft,  still,  opaque  eyes. And gazing at them, I quote  Georges  Didi-Huberman:  “What  we see is not alive -nor worth more-  than what’s looking at us. Tr. Tanya Huntington

477


ÁNGEL COSMOS AND FOTOZOOM Interdisciplinary Audacity LUIS R. HERNáNdEZ

Fotoguía magazine exemplifies the  way  that  print  media  approached  the dissemination photography in  Mexico during the 1970s. Among  advertisements  for  all  kinds  of  photography  equipment  and  gadgets,  it  published  portfolios,  technical  advice,  and  pictures  of  domestic tourist destinations. The  magazine  also  showed  a  certain  interest  in  publishing  texts  about  the  history  of  photography,  or  in  interviewing  Mexican  motion-picture  photographers  like  Gabriel  Figueroa  or  Gabriel  Retes.  This  bias  was  not  Fotoguía’s  alone:  its  predecessor,  Fotomundo  magazine, also focused on photography,  film and sound.  One summer day in 1974, a  self-taught twenty-something yearold  photographer  showed  up  at  Fotoguía’s offices carrying a bunch  of  photographs  printed  on  scraps  of paper. He left them at the magazine, and phoned several days later,  introducing himself as “the young  photographer from the other day.”  The editors asked him to come back  to make “presentable prints” of his  work at their lab; that was how the  article entitled “El joven fotógrafo”  (The  Young  Photographer)1  came  into being, probably one of the first  ever  published  featuring  Adolpho  Patiño’s  photographs.  A  year  or

more  earlier,  Patiño  had  adopted  the nickname Peyote after meeting  Huichols  in  Mexico  City,  though  he changed it to Adolfotógrafo a few  years  after  that.  He  spoke  to  the  editors of his experiences and ideas  as the leader of a cultural group he  had founded known as javera:  He stated that “we need to ‘read with photographs,’ that is to say, to relate photography to other arts,” which is why he is interested in inviting people like Carlos Monsiváis, José Agustín or Juan José Arreola to give conferences at javera . “Thus, photography would serve to create a spirit of camaraderie and permit a better dissemination of art,” Patiño added. 2

Almost nine years would have to go  by—during  which  time  the  peso  underwent  a  major  devaluation,  two  Latin  American  Photography  Colloquia  took  place  and  various  artists’  collectives  formed  and  broke  up—before  someone  else  filled  the  pages  of  Fotozoom,  Fotoguía’s  offspring,3  with  even  more  audacious  ideas  about  interdisciplinarity in photography than  those Patiño had brought forth.  This  figure  was  Ángel  Cosmos,  born  Ángel  Cosme  Díaz  de  Rada  in  Calahorra,  La  Rioja,  Spain  in  1949;  he  had  studied  philosophy  and  journalism  at  Switzerland’s  only  Catholic  university,  that  of  Fribourg,  in  the  1960s.  He  followed  a  peculiar career  path  in  Spain:  he  worked  in  journalism  but  also  published  478


poetry anthologies, organized happenings,  and  founded  a  film  club  and  a  photography  club.  While  a  majority  of  exiled  Spaniards  celebrated the end of the Franco dictatorship by returning to the Iberian  Peninsula,  Cosmos  decided  to  go  in  the  opposite  direction,  to  Mexico,  apparently  attracted  by  the  1981  oil  boom.  By  April  1983,  he  had  become  editor  in  chief  of  Fotozoom,  and  firmly  intended  to  broaden the magazine’s scope, taking  the  concept  of  interdisciplinary  work  in  photography  to  levels  unmatched  by  other  publications,  and  though  the  results  were  not  always fortunate, they were earnest  and often surprising. But before we  describe Cosmos’s term as head of  the magazine, we should provide a  brief  overview  of  the  Mexican  art  scene upon his arrival.  When  Helen  Escobedo  was  put  in  charge  of  selecting  the  Mexican  participants  for  the  Tenth  Paris  Youth  Biennale,  she  decided  to  invite  four  groups  of  artists  who  worked  collectively:  Proceso  Pentágono,  Tetraedro,  Grupo  Suma  and  Taller  de  Arte  e  Ideología.  Though  certain  factors—like  the  weakening  of  the  central  government  (a  process  that became obvious by 1968), the  consequently  unstable  political  climate and certain artists’ political activism—had favored the formation of many of these groups in  the  mid-1970s,  the  Mexican  delegation’s participation in this event  479

“was  a  catalyst  for  the  Grupos  movement  in  Mexico.  Between  1977  and  1980,  a  large  number  of visual artists chose to work collectively.”4  Subsequently,  various  members  of  the  Grupos  formed  during  that  period  were  involved  in Fotozoom while Ángel Cosmos  was  editor  in  chief.  To  mention  only  a  few:  Felipe  Ehrenberg  (Proceso  Pentágono)  wrote  about  a portfolio on lucha libre (Mexican  wrestling)  by  Lourdes  Grobet  for  an issue entitled “Sports Section”  (no.  114,  March  1985);  Carlos  Somonte  (Atte.  La  Dirección)  and  Felipe  Leal  (Taller  de  Arte  e  Ideología)  were  part  of  the  Board  of  Artists  and  Editors  that  Cosmos formed and that operated  for  issues  no.  100  through  108;  Manuel Marín (Março) headed the  “Alternatives  and  Research”  section,  dealing  with  such  topics  as  rubber  stamps  and  printmaking  or  the  possibilities  of  portraits,  self-portraits  and  journals…5  As  we  have  vaguely  sketched  out  here,  the  Grupos’  highly  diverse  agendas—or to be more exact, the  varous agendas of the individuals  who  continued  to  practice  after  these  collectives  split  up—were  given  a  forum  to  express  themselves in the magazine.6 On the other hand, Cosmos’s  nagging curiosity led him to organize a variety of projects in Spain.  In  addition  to  those  we  already  mentioned, he also edited a series  of books entitled “Nueva Escritura”


(New Writing) for the Euskal Bidea  publishing  house,  which  featured  the  work  of  authors  from  the Grupo Texto Poético; in terms  of  visual  art,  he  made  pieces  like  Objetos inservibles contra la cacharrería  (Unusable  Objects  Against  Hoarding,  1975),  in  which  he  invited the public to take away some  of  the  300  pieces  included  in  the  exhibition. He published a series of  six poems—entitled “Los primeros  6/80s días” (The First 6/80s Days,  1980)7 —over  six  consecutive  days  in  Valencia’s  Levante  newspaper,  conceiving this as an art intervention to a communication medium,  and as a cynical acknowledgement  of “the beginning of the last year of  the  1970s—the  decade  that  soiled  the dreams of those of us who grew  up in the 1960s.”8 The  world  of  visual  poetry  that  Ángel  Cosmos9  came  from  appealed  to  Mexican  artists  who  had  been  doing  experimental  work  in  the  context  of  collectives  for  several  years,  and  this  context  seemed  like  the  ideal  hotbed  to  develop what Cosmos conceived for  Fotozoom during his term as editor  in chief: a mixture of professional  and  amateur  photographers’  portfolios,  an  anthology  of  texts  that  delved into a wide range of topics,10  interviews  with  figures  both  from  the  field  of  photography  and  outside it,11 and a laboratory that could  broaden  what  was  normally  conceived  as  the  terrain  of  photography. In this respect, the editorial of

the  first  issue  that  Ángel  Cosmos  headed explained: In principle, Fotozoom is a magazine that will attempt, month after month, to present uniform criteria, with high-quality portfolios, with accurate information about events in the world of photography, and above all, with the aim that readers may educate themselves in their way of looking and/or apprehending reality or fiction through photography and art in general, as we must not forget that in dealing with one field of the arts, we are necessarily touching on the others. The photographer is not simply the holder of a camera that shoots; the photographer is, above all, someone who knows how to see, observe things with a camera. It’s the same with the painter, the architect, the filmmaker, the musician, the poet, etc., each them with his or her instrument.12

Though  Cosmos  expressed  his  obsession  with  interdisciplinarity  in  Fotozoom  in  many  different  ways,  music  occupied  a  privileged  place  among  the  arts  with which he worked. In the second  issue  he  supervised,  he  provided  space  for  research  that  the  engineer Raúl Pavón Sarrelangue  had undertaken on what he called  icophony: the connection between  image  and  sound.13  Pavón— who  was  also  a  researcher  at  the  cenidim  (or  National  Center  for  Music  Research,  Documentation  and  Information)—published  a  series  of  pictures  he  had  made  by  experimenting  with  the  visual  480


possibilities  of  an  oscilloscope  as  it registered sound waves.  Fotozoom  continued  to  receive photographic material from  both  amateurs  and  professionals.  Photographer-designer  Juan  José  Díaz  Infante  tried tried  to  to  get get  an an  interinterview  with  Cosmos  to  get  his  own  work published, but the editor told  him  he  wasn’t  interested  in  commercial  photography.  When  Díaz  Infante  insisted,  not  only  did  the  magazine  end  up  publishing  his  portfolio,  it  actually  dedicated  a  whole  issue  to  commercial  photography  (no.  103,  April  1984),  including  “some  drawings,  considerations  and  treatments  of  the  creative process” that Díaz Infante  was  working  on.  His  relationship  with  Cosmos  was  so  productive  that  they  ended  up  working  together  on  “El  ámbito  sonoro,”  a  series  of  events  at  Mexico  City’s  Museum  of  Modern  Art  in  1984,  organized  by  composer  Antonio  Russek. Cosmos and Díaz Infante  composed  the  piece  Master Pez,  which involved visual scores made  from  photographs  that  captured  fish  moving  about  randomly  in  a  “staff-aquarium.” After seeing it at  the Museum of Modern Art, composer  Arturo  Márquez  told  them  he wanted to orchestrate the piece.  This  led  to  the  birth  of  Música  de  Cámara,  a  group  that  worked  in  the  interstices  between  music,  photography,  visual  poetry  and  performance art. The group’s work  was exhibited for the first time on  481

December  17,  1984  in  the  context  of  the  Hispano-Mexican  Cultural  Days  organized  by  the  Spanish  Embassy  and  the  HispanoMexican  Cultural  Institute  in  Mexico City. In  a  way,  Fotozoom  served  not  only  to  make  the  ensemble’s  work public, but also to develop it,  since  their  pieces’  visual  component  was  displayed  in  the  magazine, and issue no. 166 was entirely  devoted to their work. With the spe. With the spe With the specific  aim  of    “disturbing,”  “being  free,” “going beyond the academic”  and  “offering  alternatives,”  this  issue  focused  on  the  relationship  between  music  and  photography,  presenting texts and interviews that  provided a context for the works of  Música  de  Cámara.  In  addition  to  Master Pez, this issue also featured  Solo para piano (whose score, “written”  with  photographs  by  Díaz  Infante, was a centerfold insert “so  it could be detached and used as a  piano  score”),  Desnudo  (arranged  for  synthesizer),  Poesía de la voz  (based on poem number seventeen  from James Joyce’s Chamber Music  collection), Sistema de zonas (a synthesizer  arrangement  in memoriam to Ansel Adams), and Digital  (a system of visual scores based on  the  enlargement  of  a  fingerprint).  Issue no. 166 was published at the  same time as the pieces’ world premiere at the Seventh International  New  Music  Forum  at  the  Benito  Juárez  Theater  in  Mexico  City  on  May 16, 1985.


The  piece  Concierto para fotógrafos deserves special mention,  performed  by  an  “orchestra”  of  photographers  (Lourdes  Almeida,  Alejandro  Castellanos,  Gilberto  Chen,  Miguel  Femat,  Gabriel  Figueroa, Ricardo Garibay, Graciela  Kartofel,  Maritza  López,  Salvador  Lutteroth,  Jesús  Sánchez  Uribe  and Antonio Vizcaíno, among oth among others)  who  triggered  their  cameras’  shutters  while  Arturo  Márquez  acted  as  conductor.  The  Concierto para fotógrafos,  which  premiered  at  the  Benito  Juárez  Theater,  was  performed  a  few  more  times.  The  second occasion was in 1989, in the  context  of  the  recording  of  a  pilot  program entitled Revelado Urgente.  Hosted  by  Gabriel  Figueroa,  it  included an interview with Cosmos  and  Díaz  Infante  and  was  supposed  to  be  broadcast  on  public  television  channel  13,  but  it  never  aired.  Nonetheless,  Díaz  Infante  used  the  photographic  and  video  documentation  of  this  second  performance—which  took  place  in  the  studios  of  the  Mexican  Radio  Institute—to  edit  his  Música de Cámara  video.  He  developed  the  piece  around  1994  with  a  grant,  and it was purchased by the Carrillo  Gil Museum. A third performance  took  place  in  2003  at  the  Sound  Image  Symposium  at  the  cna  (or  National  Arts  Center),  though  on  this  occasion  the  performers  were  musicians  instead  of  photographers,  conducted  by  Eduardo  García Barros. Over the years, this

piece  has  attracted  the  attention  of  critics  like  Fernando  Castro,  who  found  out  about  it  at  one  of  the  Visual  Poetry  Biennales— organized  at  the  outset  by  Araceli  Zúñiga  and  César  Espinosa14 — and who described it as a “critique  of straight photography.”  Música  de  Cámara’s  work  was shown in various spaces with  the  collaboration  of  many  others,  such  as  Manuel  Enríquez,  Simón  Tapia  Colman,  Rodolfo  Halffter,  Mónica Raya and Roberto Morales.  However,  when  Arturo  Márquez  received a Fulbright grant in 1988  and left the country to settle in Los  Angeles, the group’s collective output  waned  somewhat.  Luckily,  by  then  the  group  had  managed  to  issue one of the two albums it had  planned to record (in the Colección  Hispano-Mexicana  de  Música  Contemporánea, a series of albums  created  by  Cosmos  and  Antonio  Russek).  But  Ángel  Cosmos’s  interdisciplinary  project  did  not  limit  itself to Música de Cámara. Beyond  the  field  of  music  or  sound  art,  Fotozoom  was  also  tied  to  makers  of  what  we  now  call  artists’  books.  Cosmos  was  involved  in  a  few publications at La Cocina and  El  Archivero—publishing  houses  specialized  in  artists’  books  as  well  as  meeting  places  for  dissimilar  artists,  founded  by  Yani  Pecanins  and  Gabriel  Macotela  with the help of Armando Sáenz.15  Fotozoom’s issue no. 113 (February  482


1985)  announced  El  Archivero’s  upcoming  opening:  in  addition  to  functioning  as  a  store,  it  was  also  supposed  to  serve  as  a  meeting  place and documentation center for  people  interested  in  object-based  art, artists’ books and video, taking  advantage  of  the  connections  that  La  Cocina  had  established  with  close to a thousand artists from all  over  the  world.  On  this  occasion,  Fotozoom  also  announced  its  plan  to publish an issue that same year  about  alternatives  practices,  but  it  did  not  come  out  until  May  1987.  Entitled  “Anoth er  Alternative  to  Photography,” no. 149 devoted some  of its pages to the artistic possibilities of mim eographs. The  playful  quality  that  Cosmos  brought  to  the  magazine  was  displayed  in  the  monographic  issue about “Things from Abroad”  (no.  113,  February  1985)—especially  in  a  conversation  with  (fictitious)  African  photographer  Nemné  Sz’Ndugu, ,  who  had  allegedly  become  famous  by  taking  pictures  of  nothing  besides  desert  sand.  In  the  interview,  Sz’Ndugu  stated  that  he  had  decided  to  quit  photography  because  he  no  longer  wanted  to  contribute  to  the  visual  cannibalism  or  imagophagy  (in  other  words,  the  excessive  production  of  images)  he  had  witnessed  in the West. This character caught  people’s  attention,  and  some  even  claimed to have met him during an  alleged trip of his to Mexico. And yet  this was not Cosmos’s only fictional  483

character:  various  texts  published  in  Fotozoom  and  other  media  in  relation to Música de Cámara were  penned  by  Juan  Ángel  Navarro,  which  is  an  acrostic  of  the  names  of the group’s members (Juan José  Díaz  Infante,  Ángel  Cosmos  and  Arturo Márquez Navarro).  Another  facet  of  interdisciplinarity,  as  Cosmos  understood  it,  can  be  seen  in  the  monograph  (no.  150,  March  1988)  about  the  happenings  staged  by  Spanish  artist  Sendo  (Rosendo  García  Ramos), Transhumus and Queimos.  For  Transhumus,  Sendo  painted  around  700  sheep  and  let  them  loose  in  the  countryside  in  the  Spanish province of León, in order  to  commemorate  the  two-thousandth  anniversary  of  the  foundation  of  the  city  of  Astorga,  a  town  located  on  the  Way  of  St.  James.  For  Queimos,  the  artist  painted  a  two-meter by forty-meter canvas at  an intersection and finally burned  it  during  the  night  of  the  Nativity  of  St.  John  the  Baptist  (June  24),  a  feast  day  celebrated  in  various  places in Europe to commemorate  the  summer  solstice.  Photographs  of  both  pieces  were  published  in  Fotozoom,  with  the  stated  aim  of  disseminating  “some  works  and  an artist still unknown in Mexico,  interested in the latest tendencies,  visual language, novelty…” Ángel Cosmos was involved  in  projects  that  carried  him  away  from  the  magazine  around  1988.  The last issue of Fotozoom that year


(no. 160, December 1988) was also  the last he headed; it was then taken  over by Alejandro Castellanos, who  had been groomed for the job since  issue no. 155, when he was named  the  magazine’s  assistant  editor  in  chief. Though Cosmos published a  few more texts in Fotozoom, among  which  we  should  mention  “The  Eighties  Generation”  (no.  162,  March  1989),  he  focused  most  of  his energy on other projects.  After  he  quit  Fotozoom,  Cosmos received a grant to undertake  a  project  at  the  Banff  Center  in Canada in the summer of 1990.  There  he  also  developed  projects  aimed at the dissemination of Inuit  art  and  was  named  consultant  for  Canada’s Northwestern Territories  for  Europe  and  Latin  America.  Involved  in  academic  projects  in  Spain, he continued in his effort to  associate different fields of the arts  (as  shown  by  his  interdisciplinary  piece  La Ollesta,  which  used  cooking pots to make sound), and  to  explore  the  possibilities  of  new  media  (along  with  Eduardo  Vélez,  he  founded  a  video  magazine,  VideoFront).  Ángel  Cosmos  managed  to  conclude  these  and  other  projects before he died in an automobile accident in 1993. In  addition  to  being  an  editor,  to  establishing  connections between various generations  of  artists  from  different  fields,  and  to  promoting  contemporary  music and sound art, Cosmos also  managed  to  make  photography

question itself about its role in relation to other media, but above all,  to  make  it  incessantly  seek  out  a  dialogue with them. [The  Centro  de  la  Imagen’s  Ángel Cosmos/Fotozoom  archive  is  divided into three sections: photographic, documentary and graphic  material. The photographic section  contains prints that both amateurs  and  professionals  photographers  (some  of  whom  had  their  work  published  in  the  magazine)  submitted  to  Fotozoom’s  editorial  office.  The  documentary  section  contains  various  documents  and  correspondence related to the magazine,  experimental  and  visual  poetry  publications  from  Mexico and  Spain,  and  vinyl  LPs  that  are  the  fruit  of  Cosmos’s  work  as  a  contemporary  music  promoter.  The graphic section features works  by  figures  involved  with  Cosmos,  such  as  Yani  Pecanins,  Gabriel  Macotela,  Felipe  Ehrenberg  and  René Montes, among many others.  The  Centro  de  la  Imagen’s  library  also  has  a  complete  collection  of  Fotozoom issues.] Tr. Richard Moszka

Endnotes   1  In  Fotoguía,  year  3,  vol.  6,  no.  36,  September 1974, pp. 23-26.  2  Ibid., p. 26.  3  Fotozoom  was  founded  in  1975  by  Roberto  A.  García  Calderón,  who  had  been  Fotoguía’s  advertising  manager;  he  attempted  to  lend  continuity  to  the  484


concept of a single publication featuring

plural,  they’re  media,  and  Art  is  some-

both tourism news and photography.

thing  else.  Art  is,  like  poetry,  a  kind  of

4  “X Bienal de Jóvenes en París” in La era

behavior.”  Ángel  Cosmos  interviewed

de la discrepancia. Arte y cultura visual en

for  the  Cerca de ti  program  in  1992  on

México 1968-1997.  Mexico  City:  unam,

TeleRioja,  available  at  www.angelcos-

2007, p. 216.

mos.com.

5  Fotozoom,  year  12,  issues  no.  102-109,  1984.  6  To go into  greater detail on the topic of

the  first  reviews  in  Mexico  of  Roland  Barthes’s  Camera

Lucida  (no.  97,

Fotozoom’s interdisciplinarity, this story

October  1983)  to  a  digression  on

fails  to  mention  the  role  played  by  the

the  supposedly  musical  character  of

magazine’s previous editors in chief, but

Teotihuacan’s  architecture  (José  Lever,

it  cannot  fail  to  mention  Eleazar  López

“¿Está  Teotihuacán  construida  con

Zamor’s section, “Imágenes de archivo,”

música?” in no. 116, May 1985).

which focused on the incipient research

11 To  name  a  few:  Ángel  Cosmos,  “La

on  the  history  of  photography  that  was

inocencia  del  erotismo.  Conversación

being  undertaken  in  the  early  1980s.

con  Juan  García  Ponce”  in  no.  110,

The  magazine’s  thorough  coverage  of

November  1984;  Arturo  Córdoba  Just,

the  first  Latin  American  Photography

Ángel  Cosmos  &  Francisco  Mata,  “Esta

Colloquia  in  this  same  period  is  also

ciudad:  el  optimismo  desesperanzado.

worth  noting.  Francisco  Barriga  was

Conversación  con  Carlos  Monsiváis”  in

also editor in chief of the magazine for a

no.  109,  October  1984;  Ángel  Cosmos,

couple of issues, after López Zamora and

“Conversación  con  Manuel  Álvarez

before Ángel Cosmos.

Bravo”  in  no.  108,  September  1984—

7  Yani  Pecanins’s  editorial  project La

this last issue also included a color port-

Cocina  reedited  this  mimeographed

folio of Manuel Álvarez Bravo’s work.

piece in 1983. A copy of it is conserved in

12 Ángel  Cosmos,  “Una  nueva  ruta”  in

the Centro de la Imagen’s Ángel Cosmos

Fotozoom,  year  9,  no.  91,  April  1983,

Documentary Archive (box 2/5).  8  Ángel Cosmos in Fotozoom, year 12, no.  140, May 1987, p. 40.  9  Cosmos  defined  himself  as  a  poet:  “[…]

p. 28.  13 Raúl  Pavón,  “La  imagen  del  sonido”  in  Fotozoom, year 8, no. 92, May 1983, pp.  18-24.

fundamentally,  I  do  one  [thing],  and

1 4 They  both  formed  part  of  the  Taller  de

that  is  to  try  to  be  a  poet:  not  in  terms

Arte  y  Comunicación,  a  group  that  was

of writing verse, but in terms of an out-

formed at the National School of Visual

look.  To  me,  poetry  is  more  like  a  kind

Arts (enap) in the 1970s.

of behavior, an attitude. And that is also

15 The  Centro  de  las  Imagen’s  Ángel

how  I  was  educated:  I  studied  philoso-

Cosmos Documentary Archive (box 2/5)

phy,  literature  and  journalism  and  it’s

conserves  a  few  publications  issued  by

based on that that I understand or don’t

these houses.

understand  life.  So  arts  are  arts  in  the  485

10 The  range  includes  everything  from


MAURICIO ALEJO Between Still Image and Time-Image ERANdy VERgARA VARgAS

After  having  worked  with  a  photo  series  concerned  with  the  movement  of  an  object  from  one  place  to  another,  Mexican  photographer  Mauricio  Alejo  began  working  with  video.  He  then  realized  his images needed time and some  extra frames to accomplish the idea  of  action  and  movement.  Since  then  on  video’s  extended  time  of  30 frames per second has allowed  Alejo to play with the viewers’ perception  of  daily  objects.  The  audience is confronted with still images  slowly  transforming  with  the  passage  of  time  and  with  minimum  interventions  by  the  artist.  The  purpose of this paper is to analyze  the  differences  between  photography  and  video  and  to  explore  the  notions of duration and instant in  relation to Alejo’s. Drawing  from  Henri  Bergson’s  thesis  on  the  duration  of  time and Gilles Deleuze’s notion of  “time-image,”  this  paper  explores  how  the  illusion  of  duration  created  by  the  thirty  frames  of  video  extends  Alejo’s  conceptual  and  formal  possibilities.  This  paper  argues  that  Alejo  pushes  the  boundaries  of  photography  and  video, serving to build a conceptual  link between them. For that I will  rely on G. E Lessing’s discussion of  the  spatial  properties  of  painting

and  demonstrate  that  Alejo’s  videos are not limited to what Lessing  describes  as  the  “single  moment  of art,” but rather, that they unfold  within many frames.  It  is  my  thesis  that  the  videos  under  discussion  investigate  two  different  “kinds”  of  temporality:  endlessness  and  eventfulness. These notions will be discussed in  relation  to  Bergson,  Lessing  and  Michael Fried, respectively. I argue  that  Alejo’s  videos  are  still  photographs  embedded  in  time,  and  it  is  this  relationship  between  still  image and moving image, between  the  instant  of  the  photographic  image and the unfolding image of  video  that  I  discuss  in  the  following pages. Photography and the Single Moment Born  in  Mexico  City  in  1969,  Mauricio Alejo received his BA in  Communications  at  the  Universidad  Intercontinental  in  Mexico  City  in  1987,  and  a  MFA  at  New York  University  in  2002.  He  lives  and  works  between  Mexico  City  and New York.  Alejo  began  working  with  photography  in  the  late  1990’s,  basically  constructing  still  lives  with  ordinary  objects.  He  devoted  the  first  year  of  his  career  to  the  construction  of  fictions,  placing  the objects at the core of his investigation, as he explains: “I thought  I  was  photographing  pure  ideas,  the  object  as  collective  memory….  486


[Then]  I  realized  “that  I  was  not  talking  about  the  idea,  instead  it  was  about  the  specificities  of  the  objects.”1  His  work  changed  after  1999,  specifically  with  the  series  Airports, consisting of photographs  taken  from  X-Ray  filters  installed  on  Mexico  City’s  airport.  Unlike  Alejo’s  previous  formal  images,  this  work  moves  towards  a  different  approach  in  the  production  of  images and meaning, it was more  about surveillance and control. In  2000,  Alejo  moved  to  New York to pursue graduate studies  at  New  York  University.  This  experience  and  his  previous  work  Airport  transformed  his  approach  to  photography,  which  is  clearly  different in the trio Two Cubes, created  in  2001.  This  work,  as  will  be argued below, is crucial to this  analysis  as  it  represents  Alejo’s  move  towards  time-based  arts.  As  he  puts  it:  “I  had  never  done  any  work  embedded  in  time,  it  was  always  the  suspended  time,  the  frozen  instant.  And  yet  at  the  same time, it seemed to me a very  interesting  aspect  of  photography,  because it required the creation of  a  past  and  a  future.  However,  the  passage  of  time  was  something  I  had  not  considered  in  my  work  before.  When  I  made  this  piece  I  started  thinking  about  time  and  then I began working with video.”2 The  point  of  departure  of  this  essay  is  the  still  image  and  more specifically photography. For  that,  I  will  draw  from  Lessing’s  487

canonical  text  Laocoön: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry  (1766),  and  Fried’s  Art and Objecthood (1967). Although these  approaches  address  different  periods in art history, both Lessing and  Fried defend what in their view is  the  material  limitation  of  spatial  arts,  that  is  the  “single  moment.”  For  Lessing,  painting  and  sculpture  must  restrict  to  the  single  moment while arts such as poetry  and  literature  must  confine  to  the  succession  of  time.3  Similarly,  Fried is opposed to the exploration  of time in the visual arts. For him,  the  work  of  art  can  be  meaningful in a single moment and hence,  it  must  surrender  to  it. 4  Neither  Fried  nor  Lessing  talk  about  photography, but they do write about a  key element of photography: time. Indeed,  photography  functions  with  time,  not  only  the  mechanism  and  process  of  time  exposure;  regarding  the  kind  of  temporality  it  depicts,  photography’s time is the instant. Certainly,  the  elements  of  a  photograph  are  frozen in time. Although they can  suggest  movement  and  action,  what  we  see  in  a  photograph  is  just  one  “shot,”  an  instant  represented  in  space.5  As  art  historian  Alberto  Ruy  Sánchez  wrote,  “[n]o  one  can  possibly  doubt  that  time  is  a  fundamental  element  of  photography. It is one of the materials  from  which  photography  is  made.  The  photographic  apparatus  itself  is  a  machine  for  measuring  time:


among  its  other  functions,  it  calculates  and  controls  the  entrance,  the movement, of a ray of light —it  is  the  river  which  transforms  the  flow  of  life  into  the  image  of  an  instant.”6 Photography  freezes  bodies  and  actions,  and  even  when  bodies move there is the possibility of  opening the diaphragm and accelerating the speed in order to freeze  the passage of time. Obviously this  does  not  mean  that  time  stops,  but  only  that  the  action  is  frozen  within  the  film.  For  example,  one  of  Alejo’s  photographs  entitled  Tower (2007) portrays a dish filled  with soap bubbles (see page 356). We  ignore how the bubbles were made  as  we  do  not  see  anyone  playing  with them or building the “tower,”  and  we  certainly  do  not  see  the  bubbles  breaking  as  time  passes;  what we see is the instant that the  camera  captured.  Another  example  is  Todream  (2004),  which  consists  of  a  pile  of  pillows  arranged  in  the  middle  of  an  empty  room.  The  pillows  forming  a  tower  that  goes from top to bottom are frozen  in time, that is what we will always  see in this image, not another time  within  its  construction,  but  this  very instant (see page 358). The  time  that  Lessing  and  Fried  discuss  is  this  instant  that  will  remain  frozen  in  the  photograph,  the  problem  is  that  they  consider  it  its  limit,  they  see  it  as  the  only  possibility  of  spatial  arts,  therefore  their  time  it  is  not  any

instant,  but  “the”  most  important  one,  “the”  single  moment.  Accordingly,  Lessing  elaborates  on  the  selection  of  the  “right”  moment,  and  Fried  on  how  the  action  and  meaning  must  be  reduced  within  the  work.  Again,  photography  captures  instants,  but  the  “single  moment”  is  just  one  way  to  explore  static  images.  Another  way  is  Alejo’s  series  of  photographs  and  videos,  which  complicate the single moment thesis.7  As  film  theorist  Peter  Wollen  points  out:  “Film  and  video  art,  however, exhibit only a small fraction of the possible ways in which  time can be used and understood.  Time,  which  we  tend  to  think  about in purely linear terms, is in  fact incredibly complex.8 For  example,  Alejo’s  re search  on  time  and  photography  is  pushed  forward  in  Hot Water  (2004),  a  series  of  progressive  steaming  up  of  the  artist’s  bathroom (see page 359). The position of  the camera is fixed in a bathroom  with beige walls and white ceramic  in  the  shower.  On  the  front  wall  there  is  a  small  mirror  and  we  can  also  see  the  cabinets  on  the  left  side  of  the  image.  In  the  first  photograph the shower is open and  the  action  of  falling  water  is  frozen in time, we see its shadow on  the  ceramic;  the  mirror  reflecting  the beige walls. The second photograph was probably taken a few seconds  after,  but  here  the  space  has  changed:  the  drops  of  water  and  488


their shadow are diffused and the  mirror  is  not  reflecting  the  walls  anymore,  instead  it  is  turning  white and a kind of light irradiates  from it. In short, the image seems  blurry.  On  the  third  photograph,  the  mirror  has  almost  fused  with  the  background,  is  only  then  that  we  distinguish  that  the  previous  image is not blurry. As we associate  the  effect  with  the  space,  we  realize it is the vapor transforming  the  space,  hence  the  image.  The  last  photograph  is  completely  diffuse:  we  can  only  recognize  a  few  elements, the edges of the cabinets  and the edges of mirror. Each  of  these  photographs  depicts  an  instant,  but  together  they explore the passage of time in  that specific space. In other words,  although  each  image  has  its  own  characteristics,  as  a  whole  they  encompass  duration.  According  to  Dolev,  the  passage  of  time  is  “the  becoming  present  of  future  events  and  then  their  becoming  past.”9  This  succession  of events  is  explored  in  Alejo’s Hot Water,  the  images  being  transformed  by  water as it becomes vapor. What we  see  is  an  expansion  of  the  instant  that  works  through  the  series  of  multiple  instants,  not  a  “single  moment” but an extended instant,  a  moment  unfolding  in  time,  yet  limited  to  these  four  images.  Of  course  this  is  just  metaphorical,  as  we  cannot  measure  or  divide  time  (Bergson).  Time  is  absolute  duration, but what we do measure  489

is  time  in  its  spatial  terms.  That  is  what  happens  in  these  images,  Alejo’s  work  is  engaged  in  a  succession  of  instants  represented  in  space. Duration, for Bergson, is real  time, perceived and lived, and that  is  a  condition  as  there  is  no  time  without consciousness. Duration is  essentially  a  continuation  of  what  no  longer  exists  into  what  does  exist,  but  it  is  not  “constituted”  by  instants;  we  think  of  instants  because we are used to think time  in spatial terms.10 In fact, for him,  instantaneity  involves  two  things:  continuity  in  real  time  and  spatialized  time.  Spatialized  time  is  described  by  a  motion  that  has  become symbolic of time, so what  we perceive is that time passes, and  yet,  as  Bergson  assesses,  “it  is  we  who are passing… it is the motion  before our eyes which, moment by  moment, actualizes a complete history given virtually.”11 In  Alejo’s  images,  the  spatial  transformations  suggest  the  passage of time, the idea of motion  and change within the image gives  rise to our perception of duration.  Bergson  remarks  that  through  space we can measure every interval  of  time  and  his  elaboration  is  pertinent  here  because  the  spatial  allows the passage of time in photography. Furthermore, in the specific case of Alejo’s work, through  instants he suggests duration. Two Cubes  (2001)  is  a  key  example,  because  it  represents


Alejo’s  move  from  photography  to  video.  The  work  consists  of  a  series  of  photographs  documenting  the  movement  of  a  transparent  acrylic  box  on  a  mound  of  snow. Here again, duration is suggested  through  instants,  through  the  movement  of  the  cube  on  the  snow,  and  it  is  this  exploration  of  the  image  in  time  that  lead  to  Alejo’s decision to work with video.  As he has stated, he “needed time,”  and  that’s why this ideas deserves  investigation. The question of time in photography is less about the fact that  the  medium  is  limited  by  itself  (Lessing),  than  it  is  about  another  kind  of  exploration  beyond  the  instant.  Rather,  Alejo  explores  a  different relation with objects and  space,  another  kind  of  perception  of  images  in  which  time  is  “not  the  abstraction  that  occurs  when  we  project  space  into  time”— Bergson’s  time  of  the  physicist— but  pure time,  lived  time  with  no  resemblance  to  numbers  or  to  instants. Alejo’s move from photography to video is representative of his  philosophical  repositioning  with  the  media  and  his  artistic  practices;  it  has  to  do  with  his  preoccupation to expand the still image.  This does not mean that he stopped  working  with  photography,  it  just  means  that  some  of  his  projects  did not  “fit” within  its space. And  even  then,  Alejo’s  work  oscillates  conceptually and visually between

photography and video, for he does  not rely so much on movement but  on  time,  hence  the  boundaries  of  these media fade. At this point, it is important  to mention that Alejo’s early videos  are reminiscent of the first experiments  with  film  of  the  Lumiere’s  brothers,  Geroge  Mélies  and  in  fact,  various  seminal  films  and  videos As Peter Wollen has noted,  “Many artists’ videos, it seems, are  atavistic works, deliberately returning  to  the  single-shot  technique  which  ruled  at  the  very  dawn  of  cinema,  setting  up  a  continuous  action and then filming it within a  given time-limit without any edits  or even camera movements.12 This  kind  of  work  is  representative  of  numerous  artists  from  the  sixties  and seventies such as Vito Acconci,  Joan  Jonas,  Bruce  Nauman,  Nam  June  Paik,  William  Wegman.  And  certainly  this  has  also  been  the  beginning  for  Alejo.  What  is  important to note is that his background  as  a  photographer  highly  influenced  his  exploration  with  video; as he explains, his early videos are “photographs with time.”13 A  clear  example  is  Line (2002),  a  fifty-second  video  of  a  white  screen divided by a line  (see page 361).  Certainly,  neither  the  image nor the audio provide directions to see it other ways, what we  see is only what the title suggests.  Furthermore, it seems that we are  looking at a photograph since there  are  not  evident  transformations  490


and  the  light  does  not  seem  to  reflect  movement.  It  is  a  photograph  until  Alejo’s  intervention— his  hand  emerges  from  the  right  and literally interrupts the line—at  which point the fragility of perception  becomes  clear:  the  line  is  in  fact  the  steady  stream  of  water.  It  is  then  that  we  make  associations  and realize that the sound, indeed,  corresponds to falling water, but it  is so subtle that, paradoxically, we  need  to  know  what  we  are  seeing  to  realize  what  we  are  hearing.  In  addition, the video is so short that  we need to see it more than once to  grasp the whole and to understand  what  just  “happened.”  Especially  when  encountering  Alejo’s  videos  for  the  first  time  we  cannot  know  there  is  an  element  of  surprise  accompanying some of these early  works. This  discussion  leads  us  to  the  issue  of  Lessing’  single  moment,  which  is  in  fact  very  restrictive,  as  for  him  each  medium is clearly defined in scope  and  characteristics.  Painting  and  photography,  as  spatial  arts,  are  supposed to be limited to the representation  of  the  single  moment.  But  Alejo  seems  to  struggle  with  this  form  of  temporality,  he  complicates  the  single  moment  and  pushes  further.  In  fact,  Alejo’s  work  in  video  extends  the  “pregnant moment” as the thirty frames  per second unfold. This applies to  Crack  (2002-2004),  which  is  only  thirty-two seconds of a static image  491

unfolding  in  time  (see page 362).  The  object  here  is  a  white  plate  apparently cracked, or at least that  is  what  we  see  at  first  glance.  On  a  closer  look  however,  the  plate  is  filled with milk and by the time we  realized it we hear someone blowing on it to reveal that the “crack”  is  formed  by  hair  floating  on  the  milk.  Again,  the  elements  of  the  video are minimal, so is the sound  and the artist intervention, and yet  what seems to be a still image is in  fact  another  statement  on  perception  unfolding  in  time,  another  extended still image. According to  Alejo  “this  video  is  about  fragility  and alludes to two kind of ruptures,  that  of  representation  and  that  of  perception.” I argue that these ruptures happen through the passage  of  time.  Following  Bergson,  the  suggestion is that the rupture can  be experienced by the observer, in  as  much  as  her/his  consciousness  provides duration to time.14 Furthermore,  in  both  Line  and  Crack,  the  process  of  perception  is  complicated  by  the  artist,  who  forces  the  viewer  to  think  of  the  image  differently  and  to  approach  it  with  more  attention  in order to experience the expanding instant. Alejo also raises a key  question:  is  it  photography  or  is  it  video? He works with this question  and explores how the instants and  durations are negotiated in video. Beyond these forms of temporality  there  is  an  interesting  tension  between  Alejo’s  works


and  cinema.  Deleuze’s  elaboration  provides  insight.  For  him  the  single  image  in  film  is  an  immobile-instantaneous  section  of  movement  reflecting  actions  through  innumerable  instants.  In  other words, cinema “is the system  which  reproduces  movement  as  a  function  of  any-instant-whatever  that  is,  as  a  function  of  equidistant instants, selected so as to create the impression of continuity.”15  According to Deleuze, the frame in  cinema  is  “any-instant-whatever,”  and  as  such  there  is  a  fundamental  difference  between  painting  and  the  individual  frame  in  film,  as  the  later  “is  not  the  illusionist  synthesis  of  a  narrative  context,  but  a  single…  incidental  moment  (any-instant-whatever) in an overall  narrative  structure.”16  Concerning  Alejo’s  video,  the  any-instantwhatever is put into question. The  works in video that have been previously discussed are, especially at  the  beginning,  any-instant-whatever and yet at the same time that  instant unfolds, it becomes important  by  itself,  is  like  a  photograph  extending  the  single  moment  -which is not a single moment anymore. Line, for instance, is a photograph  until  the  hand  of  the  artist  disrupts  the  image  allowing  us  to  recognize  that  time  was  unfolding  before  we  noticed  it.  To  be  clear, however, that does not mean  that  because  there  was  not  consciousness there was not time—in  Bergsonian  terms—in  fact  it  is  at

the very instant of the artist’s intervention  that  we  acknowledge  that  duration was unfolding before our  eyes. Another still image embedded  in  time  is Twig (2002),  a  tiny  branch and its shadow standing in  the middle of a bright bed of snow  (see page 365).  The  still  life  is  suspended in time as the twig rests in  what  seems  a  winter  morning  in  a  park.  The  camera  is  positioned  close to the branch and so we do not  know  exactly  what  space  is  being  depicted,  but  in  the  distance  we  hear voices of kids playing as well  as the sound of steps approaching  the  camera  and  then  going  away,  so  the  sound  suggests  action,  and  yet  the  branch  is  frozen  in  time.  Suddenly,  the  wind  blows,  taking  away  the  calm  of  the  scene  and  the  twig’  shadow,  which,  in  fact,  is not a shadow but a thin slice of  wood identical to the branch. Here,  thirty-five  seconds  are  enough  to  suspend  the  observer’s  attention  in  an  instant  that  unexpectedly  moves from still to moving image.  For the artist, Line and Twig  are about illusive facts that engage  viewers  to  experience  reality  in  a  different  way  because  they  break  the  charm  of  illusion.  The  minimal elements and contrast of color  capture  the  viewer’s  attention,  so  in  a  way  these  works  are  what  Deleuze  calls  “time-image.”  In Twig,  “everything  that  changes  is  in time, but time does not in itself  change, it could itself change only  492


in another time, indefinitely. At the  point  where  the  cinematographic  image  most  directly  confronts  the  photo,  it  also  becomes  most  radically  different  from  it.”17  Alejo’s  twig  endures,  it  “represent[s]  the  unchanging  form  of  that  which  moves,  so  long  as  it  is  at  rest,  motionless…”18  Deleuze’s  timeimage incites the viewer to think of  the image and to engage in a different process of perception. In Alejo’s  work  this  is  possible  through  the  spatial  representation  of  time.  For  him video and photo are the means  of sharing his observation of daily  spaces,  a  way  to  say  “maybe  there  is  another  space  within  the  same  space.”19 At this point is crucial to call  attention  to  the  title  of  the  works,  a very important element of Alejo’  videos. In fact, he uses the titles as  a  strategy  of  distraction,  the  verbal  element  preceding  the  image  functions as the linguistic message, in  which  Roland  Barthes  distinguishes  two  functions:  anchorage  and  relay, the  former  helping  the  viewer  to  “understand”  the  meaning  and  the  later  complementing  the  image.  Alejo’s  videos  combine  both  anchorage  and  relay,  directing  the  audience  to  focus  its attention on the wrong place at  the  right  time.  And  yet,  once  the  image unfolds, the visual structure  breaks the linguistic.20 From  within  this  context  of the instant and its extension in  video, the following section focuses  493

on another kind of temporality that  Mauricio  Alejo  has  explored,  that  of endlessness. Video, Loop and the Rhetoric of Endlessness Mauricio Alejo has produced other  videos  that  formally  deal  with  Bergson’s  definition  of  pure  duration. This is particularly evident in  the  videos  entitled  Endless Sphere  (2007) and Memory (2003). Endless Sphere is a video in loop that depicts  a  coin  spinning  on  its  edge,  and,  as  the  title  suggests,  the  action  takes place endlessly (see page 365).  This temporality is consistent with  Bergson’s notion of duration, in as  much  as  pure  duration  consists  in  the  passage  of  time  from  one  moment to another; time is succession and it is not conceived without  a before and after. However, it must  be remembered that this unfolding  does not refer to a clear present and  past, but rather to an endless flow  of duration.21 Endless Sphere is that,  a continuous flow that lasts as long  as there is consciousness. In addition,  this  video  is  endlessness  in  meaning. A spinning coin alludes  to luck, and yet at the same time is  paradoxical because the coin never  falls, so luck is never decided, but  instead,  is  suspended  in  time.  Furthermore,  the  spherical  form  draws attention to infinity, in both  the  action  (time)  and  the  form  (space). In  light  of  this  work,  the  suggestion  of  endlessness  is  very


interesting  if    related  to  Fried’s  critique  of  literalist  art.  As  it  has  been  previously  mentioned,  Fried  is  against  duration  in  the  visual  arts and he critiques the idea that  the  work  of  art  and  the  experience  exists  and  persists  in  time.  Moreover,  this  articulation  is  crucial because Alejo’s work has been  described as minimalist. The most  obvious  connections  are  forms,  shapes and other spatial elements;  basically  the  number  of  elements  is extremely reduced and the backgrounds  are  mundane  spaces  but  always empty and clean. For example,  Milk (2002)  a  white  sink  fill  with  milk;  Empty  (2006),  a  series  of translucent empty plastic bags of  different  colors  placed  one  inside  the  other.  In  addition,  the  artist’s  interest  with  objects  projects  objecthood.  However,  the  most  important connections between literalist art and some of Alejo’s videos are in terms of space and time. According  to  Fried,  literalist  art  is  open  to  multiple  interpretations  and  the  meaning  is  inexhaustible,  endless.  That  is,  “able to go on and on, even having  to  go  on  and  on…”22  In  addition,  there is the passage of time, as the  experience persists in time its duration is infinite. For Fried, literalist  work deals with the duration of the  experience, which persists in time,  in short, “at every moment the work itself is wholly manifest.”23 Fried critiques this idea and argues that the  work  of  art  can  be  meaningful  in

a  single  moment.  Alejo’s  exploration with time is embedded it these  forms of  temporality,  between the  single  moment  and  endlessness.  His videos unfold in time, whether  endlessly (in loop) or in a few seconds.  In terms of space and meaning,  literalist  art  does  not  respect  the  boundaries  between  the  work  of art and the outside world. This is  obvious in Alejo’s videos; by depicting daily objects staged in ordinary  stages  and  by  directly  intervening  in  the  image,  the  viewer  is  taken  outside  the  work  of  art  and  is  brought back to the ordinary world. The  possibility  of  time  and  duration in art, that is, the wholly  manifestation  of  art  that  Freid  is  so  afraid  of,  is  the  core  of  Alejo’s  videos Endless Sphere and Memory.  These works play with this form of  temporality  and  they  are  endlessness in meaning and action. What  does  a  coin  spinning  in  perpetuity, for as long as you watch, mean?  Alejo’s  work  is  full  of  interpretation,  it  goes  on  and  on  and  back  again and the single moment is not  a still image but a moving image,  a  digital  signal  that  extends  and  unfolds in light and time. Memory  (see page 367)  consists of a crumpled ball of paper on  a white background. The image is  therefore  neutral,  extremely  clean  and  subtle  as  the  ball  of  paper  slowly  unravels.  “We  imagine  what  comes  next:  the  paper  will  regain  its  original  form,  retrieve  its  composure,  reassert  its  purity,  494


the  camera  will  be  put  on  rewind  and  the  sequence  of  events  that  lead to the balling-up reversed. But  instead  the  image  fades  out  after  approximately five seconds and it is  replaced by another shot of a tightly  crumpled  sheet,  which  begins  to  unravel only to be cut and replaced  yet again. This occurs 43 times…”24  In a gallery space, this video is presented in loop so the unfolding of  the  piece  of  paper  is  infinite  and  the sound increases the feeling of  abstraction  and  suspension.  The  duration of the “event” per se is not  even  a  minute,  but  the  duration  of  the  experience  is  endless.  As  Bergson wrote, “it is impossible to  distinguish  between  the  duration,  however short it may be, that separates  two  instants  and  a  memory  that connects them, because duration  is  essentially  a  continuation  of what no longer exists into what  does exist.25 This tension is at play  in Memory. On  the  other  hand,  Short Term Memory (2006) is a very interesting work because its temporality  is a clear representation of time in  space,  but  is  not  endless,  at  least  not obviously (see page 369). Here,  the camera is fixed on a roll of toilet paper with a black dot of ink in  the  middle;  as  the  artist  pulls  it,  the  paper  unfolds  and  the  black  spot becomes smaller and smaller  until  it  disappears.  This  work  is  extremely  poetic  and  it  functions  as  a  metaphor  of  what  Bergson  describes  as  the  inner  duration  495

that  accompanies  us  “from  the  first to the last moment of our conscious  life.”26  The  time  is  literally  unfolding  and  yet  the  temporality  is not clear; is it pure duration? Is  it  an  instant,  or  is  it  the  way  our  memories vanish with the passage  of  time?  Further,  is  it  really  short  term  memory  or  is  it  nostalgia?  According to the artist it is an emotional  and  sentimental  choreography and if we consider his previous  work,  the  idea  of  choreography  functions  in  the  level  of  movement, an aspect that was not completely explored in most of his early  videos from 2002-2004.   On  the  other hand, the reference to memory escapes Bergson’s two forms of  memory,  pure  memory  and  habitmemory as the ink fades and there  is no way to restore it. In fact, the  image may be restored but not the  ink; it has vanished. If, as Bergson  wrote,  memory  is  the  intersection  of mind and matter, then this work  restores  the  perception  of  images  to  the  real.  Unlike  Memory,  Short Term Memory alludes to life and its  inevitable decay,  to  the  certainty  that  everything  in  life  is  hopelessly  bound  to  collapse.  However,  [Alejo]  manages to find beauty in the fact that  within even the most annihilating  inertia,  there  is  a  moment  when  all  things  make  sense.  There  is  a  moment when everything appears  to  be  not  only  tied  together,  but  also  fulfilled  and  removed  from  the  mechanism  of  deterioration.


It is from these very moments that  Alejo  attains  a  precious  feeling  of  wholeness;  a  feeling  that  eventually  wears  out  and  becomes  the  very essence of nostalgia.27 Also key is Fact and Fiction  (2007),  a  video  showing  the  front  cover  of  a  book  entitled  Fatti e Finzioni (see page 369). The title and  the  work  allude  to  the  presenceabsence  of  the  artists  and  to  the  idea of fiction and construction in  video. The same can be said about  the  image,  because  we  see  the  book  and  the  artist’s  moist  hand  imprinted on the matte paper, but  the video is edited in a way that we  are  not  allowed  to  see  his  hand.  Moreover, the video is presented in  loop  so  the  action  is  unfolding  in  time;  past  present  and  future  fading in circles. At stake here is the  artist’s  strategy  to  recreate  and  to  record  motion,  because  the  only  thing  remaining  is  the  trace  that  his  body  left  on  the  object,  the  moisture  draws  and  erases  the  silhouette  and  we  can  almost  see  his  bones  on  the  book  creating  the sense of movement and at the  same time acting as the only testimony  of  Alejo’s  presence.  It  is  for  this  reason  that  Fact and Fiction  reveals another kind of approach to  the media: the camera is fixed and  of course the book is static, it is the  moisture  as  it  abandons  the  book  that gives us the illusion of movement, but in fact, it is through time  that the silhouette fades in and out  endlessly.

In  a  way,  Fact and Fiction  is consistent with Deleuze’s “crystal-image”  for  its  main  element  is  time,  as  he  describes:  “since  the  past  is  constituted  not  after,  the  present  that  it  was  but  at  the  same  time,  time  has  to  split  itself  in two at each moment as present  and  past,  which  differ  from  each  other in nature, or, what amounts  to  the  same  thing,  it  has  to  split  the  present  in  two  heterogeneous  directions,  one  which  is  launched  towards the future while the other  falls  into  the  past.”28  At  the  same  time, there is a preoccupation with  the recording of events and its fictitious  reconstruction,  an  invitation  to the audience to think about the  image; this bring us to another elucidation of Deleuze since the construction of reality and fiction has  to do with time itself. The kind of  films (and video) that Deleuze calls  the  series of time “brings  together  the before and after in a becoming,  instead of separating them; its paradox  is  to  introduce  an  enduring  interval  in  the  moment  itself.”29  As  the  title  suggests  this  video  is  in between fact and fiction, and so  conceptually  it  is  also  suspended  in a loop, showing us that the ideal  of  Truth  “was  the  most  profound  fiction.30 On  the  one  hand  this  relationship between fiction and video  (of course inherited from photography) will now be briefly discussed  in  terms  of  Barthes.  For  him,  the  linguistic image is denoted and the  496


symbolic  image  is connoted,  and  although this distinction is merely  operational as there is not “a literal  image  in  pure  state”  (42),  photography’s supposedly exact recording  of reality “naturalizes the symbolic  message,  [and]  it  innocents  the  semantic artifice of connotation.”31  This  is  something  that  Alejo  uses  to  confront  the  viewer  with  an  image that is not what it looks like.  As  he  comments,  “critically,  I  am  only  interested  in  contributing  to  the  skepticism  of  the  image,  that  is,  the  photographic  image  and  the image of video are discourses,  they are not reality and they are not  absolute truth. The media is a great  fiction disguised of truth.”32 Similarly,  Gravity  (20022004) plays with the idea of fiction  and  viewers’  perception  (see page 371). The video starts when a white  balloon  is  thrown  in  the  air  and  then  it  slowly  deflates,  becoming  smaller until it is completely empty,  but, when it is expected to fall, the  balloon  instead  goes  upward,  and  then  the  sound  of  it  falling  to  the  floor is heard. That is what we can  see, the empty balloon is not going  downwards  but  it  rather  drifts  to  the top of the screen. Gravity contains  an  element  of  surprise,  but  it does not seem to be possible, let  alone real; gravity is absolute, isn’t  it?  Once  again  at  stake  is  perception and visual illusions that seem  to  be  staged  in  the  theater  of  the  obvious and yet pose the ability to  surprise and make viewers see that  497

what  they  see  is  not  reality  but  a  spatial construction. Technically, it  may not be hard to rotate the video  180  degrees  to  subvert  the  image,  but the surprise forces the viewers  to shift the process of perception in  a very short time, taking them out  of the habit-memory.33 Hence, they  experience  surprise,  disappointment  or  disillusion  because  certainly that is not what they expected.  In that sense, this work alludes to  Deleuze’s thought-image, in which  “thinking  becomes  an  element  of  the  image.  It  must  no  longer  be  understood  as  an  object  exterior  to the image that the latter is supposed to represent.”34 The  question  of  audience  is  key  to  Alejo’s  work  because  it  requires  the  viewer  to  enter  his  game  of  perception.  According  to  Alejo,  “what  interests  me  about  video  is  that  it  invites  an  intelligent  audience,  I  mean  you  don’t  want to lie, you want that they take  part in the lie with you, that in the  moment  of  the  trick  there  is  not  greater surprise than believing that  reality can be another way or many  different  ways.”35  Here  it  is  pertinent to think of Gravity and probably most of Alejo’s videos in terms  of  Bergons’  perception,  which  is  the  intersection  of  attention  and  memory.  For  him,  past  images  are  always  preserved,  but  they  are  stored in two different places, pure  memories  are  stored  within  consciousness  while  habitual  memories  are  stored  in  the  brain.  The


former  images  while  the  later  repeats.  They  both  live  on  forever  but  the  habit  memory  is  practical  in our daily life, thus it is the most  recurring. Therefore, if perception  is always affected by memory, what  we see on Alejo’s images is not only  what  we  see  but  what  we  remember. The most important aspect of  his  work  regarding  perception,  I  argue, is that it challenges the habit  memory,  thus  disrupting  our  perception of daily objects and spaces. Although  each  image  will  appeal  to  different  memories  and  its  impact  will  depend  on  each  observer,  because  the  images  are  staged  in  mundane  spaces  there  is no need for a specific audience,  hence recognition does not rely on  exclusivity:  there  can  be  connections and even identification. That  is  what  make  Alejo’s  work  strong:  few  elements  in  mundane  spaces  and  concise  actions  in  short  time:  simple  to  store  in  the  brain.  For  example in Line, the only elements  are  the  line  and  the  artist’  hand,  thus  they  get  straight  to  the  point  and straight to the brain; powerful  enough  to  persist  in  time  and  in  our memory.

3 Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Laocoon; an

Endnotes

9 Yuval  Dolev,  Time and Realism: Met-

Essay Upon the Limits of Painting and Poetry (Trans. Ellen Frothingham. New  York: Noonday Press, 1957) 91.   4 Fried  focuses  specifically  on  literalist  art; his main thesis is that these kinds  of art practices are theatrical, therefore  they  are  antithetical  to  art.  Michael  Fried,  “Art  and  Objecthood,”  Artforum  (June 1967, reprinted in Minimal Art: a Critical Anthology, ed. Gregory Battcock,  New Work: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1968).   5 Here  it  is  important  to  clarify  that,  for  example,  in  the  early  years  of  the  daguerreotype,  the  process  took  several  minutes  and  required  subjects  to  remain  still.  Therefore,  what  seems  to  be an instant was in fact the result of a  long  process.  In  fact,  some  of  the  first  images  of  Daguerre  did  not  show  living beings because of the long exposure  times.  Beaumont  Newhall,  La Historia de la Fotografía  (Barcelona:  G  Gilli,  1978).   6 Alberto  Ruy  Sánchez,  “Nina  Subin:  Time  Within  Time,”  Luna Córnea  19  (Jan.-April 2000) 96.   7 Minimalist  art  is  a  perfect  example  of  the posibilities of painting. See Michael  Fried, “Art and Objecthood.”    8 Peter  Wollen,  Paris Hollywood: Writings on Film (London; New York: Verso, 2002)  238.

1 Gabriella  Gomez-Mont.  “Mauricio  Ale-

aphysical and Antimetaphysical  Perspec-

jo: Las Cosas y el Ojo Desnudo,” Fahren-

tives,  (Cambridge,  Mass.:  MIT  Press

heit (Dec. 2002) 25.

2007) viii.

2 Alejo  quoted  in  Fernando  Llanos,  “El

10  Drawing  from  Einstein’s  theory  of  rel-

equilibrio  entre  la  inocencia  y  el  cono-

ativity  Bergson  argues  that  there  are

cimiento:  Entrevista  a  Mauricio  Alejo,”

two kinds of time, the time of the phi-

Replica 21 (March 2003) 19.

losophers  (real  time,  pure  duration)  498


and  the  time  of  the  physicist  (which  is

26 Ibid, 34.

measurable as it is perceived in space).

27 Galeria  Ramis  Barquet,  “Mauricio

See  Henri  Bergson,  Duration and

Alejo: Crossing a Flimsy Bridge,” press

Simultaneity: Bergson and the Einsteinian

release (March, 2006).

Universe,  (Ed.  Robin  Durie;  trans.  of

28 Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2, 81.

supplementary  material  Mark  Lewis

29 Ibid, 155.

and Robin Durie, Manchester, England:

30 Ibid, 149.

Clinamen Press, 1999), specially chap-

31 Roland  Barthes,  “Rhetoric  of  the

ter two and three.  11 Ibid, 43.

Image,”  Image-Music-Text  (New  York:  Hill and Wang, 1977) 45.

12 Peter Wollen, Paris Hollywood: Writings

32 Alejo  quoted  in  Fernando  Llanos,

on Film  (London;  New  York:  Verso,

“El  Equilibrio  Entre  la  Inocencia  y  el

2002) 234.

Conocimiento:  Entrevista  a  Mauricio

13 Alejo, Personal Interview, 10 Nov. 2008.  14 Bergson,  Duration and Simultaneity,  Chapter 2.

Alejo,” Replica 21 (March 2003) 19.  33 Henri  Bergson,  “Of  the  Recognition  of  Images,”  Matter and Memory,  trans.

15 Deleuze  quoted  in  Susanne  Gaen-

Nancy  Margaret  Paul  and  W.  Scott

sheimer, “Moments in Time,” Moments

Palmer  (New  York:  Zone  Books,  1990)

in Time: On Narration and Slowness  (Markham,  Ont.:  James  Lumbers  Pub)  41.

77-132.  34 Heme  de  Alcote  quoted  in  Barbara  Filser,  “Gilles  Deleuze  and  a  Future

16 Ibid.

Cinema,” Future Cinema: The Cinematic

17 Gilles  Deleuze,  Cinema 2  (London:

Imaginary After Film,  ed.  Jeffrey  Shaw

Athlone, 1986-1989) 17.

and  Peter  Weibel.  (ZKM/Zentrum

18 Ibid.

für  Kunst  und  Medientechnologie

19 Alejo  quoted  in  Fernando  Llanos,

Karlsruhe;  Cambridge:  MIT  Press,

“El  Equilibrio  Entre  la  Inocencia  y  el  Conocimiento:  Entrevista  a  Mauricio  Alejo,” Replica 21 (March 2003) 19.  20 Barthes’  elaboration  will  be  further

2003) 215.  35 Alejo  quoted  in  Fernando  Llanos,  “El  Equilibrio  Entre  la  Inocencia  y  el  Conocimiento, 19.

discussed regarding the video Fact and  Fiction.  21 Bergson,  Duration and Simultaneity,  Chapter 2.  22 Michael  Fried,  “Art  and  Objecthood,”  Artforum, 166.  23 Emphasis of the author. Ibid, 167.

Amy,  Michael.  “Mauricio  Alejo  at  Ramis  Barquet.” Art in America (Nov, 2006). Barthes,  Roland.  “Rhetoric  of  the  Image.”  Image-Music-Text.  New  York:  Hill  and  Wang, 1977.

2 4 Christopher  Ho,  “Doubting  Saint

Bergson, Henri. Duration and Simultaneity:

Thom as,”  Modern Painters  (February

Bergson and the Einsteinian Universe. Ed.

2005).

Robin  Durie;  trans.  of  supplementary

25 Bergson, Duration and Simultaneity, 33. 499

Bibliography

material  Mark  Lewis  and  Robin  Durie.


Manchester,  England:  Clinamen  Press,  1999.

Lessing,  Gotthold  Ephraim.  Laocoon; an Essay Upon the Limits of Painting and

——.  Matter and Memory.  Trans.  Nancy  Margaret  Paul  and  W.  Scott  Palmer.  New York: Zone Books, 1990.

Poetry. Trans. Ellen Frothingham. New  York:Noonday Press, 1957. Llanos,  Fernando.  “El  Equilibrio  entre  la

Callender,  Craig,  ed.  Time, Reality and

Inocencia y el Conocimiento: Entrevista

Experience.  Cambridge:  Cambridge

a  Mauricio  Alejo.”  Replica 21  (March

University Press, 2002.

2003): 19.

Deleuze,  Gilles.  Cinema

2.  London:

Athlone, 1986-1989.

Michael  Fried,  “Art  and  Objecthood,”  Artforum  (June  1967,  reprinted  in

Dolev,  Yuval.  Time and Realism: Meta-

Minimal Art: a Critical Anthology,  ed.

physical and Antimetaphysical Perspec-

Gregory  Battcock,  New  Work:  E.P.

tives.  Cambridge,  Mass.:  MIT  Press  2007. Filser, Barbara. “Gilles Deleuze and a Future  Cinema.” Future Cinema: The Cinematic Imaginary After Film.  Ed.  Jeffrey  Shaw  and  Peter  Weibel.  ZKM/Zentrum  für    Kunst  und  Medientechnologie  Karlsruhe;  Cambridge:  MIT  Press,  2003, 214-219. Galeria  Ramis  Barquet.  “Mauricio  Alejo:  Crossing a Flimsy Bridge.” Press release  (March, 2006).

Dutton & Co., 1968). Newhall, Beaumont. La Historia de la Fotografía. Barcelona: Gustavo Gilli, 1978. Parfait,  Françoise.  Video, un Art Contemporain. Paris: Regard, 2001. Rivero  Lake,  Francisca.  “Mauricio  Alejo”  Art Nexus 43 (Nov 2002) 111. Ruy  Sánchez,  Alberto.  “Nina  Subin:  Time  Within  Time”  Luna Córnea  19  (Jan.April 2000). Wees,  William  C.  “The  Camera  Eye:  Dialectics  of  a  Metaphor.”  Future Cin-

Gomez-Mont,  Gabriella.  “Mauricio  Alejo:

ema: The Cinematic Imaginary After

Las Cosas y el Ojo Desnudo.” Fahrenheit

Film.  Ed.  Jeffrey  Shaw  and  Peter

(Jan.   2003): 25. Ho, Christopher “Doubting Saint Thoma.”  Modern Painters (February 2005). Javault,  Patrick.  Vidéo Topiques.  Paris:  Paris Musées, Musée d’Art Moderne et

Weibel.  ZKM/Zentrum  für  Kunst  und  Medientechnologie

Karlsruhe;

Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003, 48-55. Wollen, Peter. Paris Hollywood: Writings on Film. London; New York: Verso, 2002.

Contemporain de Strasbourg, 2002.

500


CONCENTRIC CIRCLES ANA CASAS

I  took  down  my  exhibition  at  the  Museo del Chopo, put the pictures  in  my  car  and  went  to  San  Ángel  to show them to Patricia Mendoza  and Pablo Ortiz Monasterio. I had  an accident on Insurgentes Avenue  close to Florida Street. It was 1992.  I  don’t  remember  if  I  finally  got  there  that  day,  but  I  do  know  that  that’s  when  the  story  began  that  changed my life in every way. The  key element is the connection with  the Centro de la Imagen. A  year  later,  before  the  Centro de la Imagen opened, I was  invited  to  participate  in  the  project. I remember the remodeling at  the Ciudadela: the courtyard was a  huge  ditch,  covered  with  scaffolding  and  full  of  workers,  as  it  was  gradually transformed into exhibition rooms and offices. One  of  the  earliest  exhibitions held at Centro de la Imagen,  Antigüedades para el siglo XXI [Antiques  For  the  21th  Century]  was a lively show of works in progress.  The  project  for  a  new  space  began  there,  one  that  catered  to  all  kinds  of  proposals,  artists  and  the  concerns  of  an  entire  period  of  images  in  Mexico.  A  vital  project  that  made  your  swim,  based  on Patricia and Pablo’s vision. For  the opening, Marcos Kurtycz and I  made the piece Sombras (Shadows).  Marcos installed lights on the gallery’s ceiling. It was all dark. Only  501

a beam of light created photograms  of our naked bodies on huge rolls  of photographic paper, perpetually  falling. Patricia  put  me  in  charge  of  the  workshops.  The  biggest  encouragement  was  the  immense  freedom  and  trust  that  she  gave  all those of us participating in the  project. It was the beginning of six  years of my life totally dedicated to  the workshops.  I  wanted  to  create  a  space  that  would  be  a  meeting  place  for  everyone  who  had  something  to  contribute  to  the  field  of  photography  in  Mexico  at  the  time.  Photographers,  visual  artists,  historians,  anthropologists,  philosophers,  writers,  filmmakers— anyone  who  could  broaden  the  vision  of  photography  and  help  articulate  critical  thought  about  the  medium.  A  space  that  catered  to  photographers  working  at  that  time,  that  generated  ideas,  and  above all, that encouraged them to  make work. Crossing photography  with  other  media:  cinema,  video,  writing, installation, sculpture. Since  then,  photography  has  undergone  enormous  transformations.  It  was  time  to  redefine  its  limits  and  its  relationship  with  other  media.  Digital  images  had appeared, the Internet had just  started  becoming  important,  photography was reshaping itself very  quickly  and  the  context  as  far  as  artists,  discourse,  and  education  were  concerned  was  undergoing


radical changes. In this sense, the  program  had  to  be  open  to  everyone and inclusive, in order to generate ideas as well as work.  The  Centro  became  a  point  of convergence for all kinds of artists,  ideas,  work  and  dialogue.  A  center  that  was  alive.  A  medium  that was redefining itself in a space  where teaching tried to encourage  critical  thinking  among  artists,  that gave them to access to making  and interpreting photographs from  their  own  point  of  view,  enriched  by the experience of everyone else  working  with  images  from  different  perspectives.  The  intersection  between  the  development  of  an  idea of education and the discourse  and experience of those who were  actively working with images. It  focused  on  many  things:  tutorials, project assessment, seminars  and  workshops  about  the  history  and  study  of  photography,  basic,  intermediate  and  advanced  workshops,  international  workshops, and also workshops on specific  topics.  The  tutorials  assisted  participants in the creation of projects  from  an  artist’s  perspective,  and  the  instructors  were  practicing  photographers:  Gerardo  Suter,  Marco Antonio Pacheco, Francisco  Mata, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, Silvia  Gruner,  Marco  Antonio  Cruz,  Yolanda  Andrade,  Saúl  Serrano,  among others. The  seminars  on  analysis,  history  and  criticism  were  aimed  at  situating  photography  in  a

historical  context  and  at  fostering  critical thinking in order to associate production with conceptualization in novel ways. We approached  the  analysis  of  photography  as  a  medium, its relationship with other  disciplines,  and  the  intersections  there  were  at  the  time  between  images and philosophy, anthropology,  semiotics  and  history.  Olivier  Debroise, José Antonio Rodríguez,  John Mraz, Carlos Aranda, Rebeca  Monroy,  Ricardo  Pérez  Montfort,  Raymundo  Mier,  Humberto  Chávez,  Katya  Mandoki,  Antonio  Saborit, Armando Cristeto, Andrés  de  Luna,  Samuel  Villela,  Francis -  co  Montellano,  Laura  González,  Andrés  Medina,  Patricia  Massé,  Ariel Arnal, Alfonso Muñoz, Néstor  Bravo and Lorenzo Armendáriz all  participated, among others.  We also dealt with the intersections  with  other  media  such  as  writing,  sculpture,  installation,  and video: photography and sculpture  with  Enrique  Cantú;  photography and hand-processed [motion  picture]  film  with  Naomi  Uman;  photography and video with Rubén  Ortiz and Jesse Lerner; handmade  books  with  Scott  Mac  Cartney;  photography  and  installation  with Eugenia  Vargas;  photography  and  writing with Beatriz Novaro. Naomi  Uman  came  from  Los  Angeles  in  her  van  with  her  two  dogs.  We  used  sixteen-millimeter  film  cameras  and  blackand-white  film.  After  being  shot,  the  film  was  hand-developed  in  502


buckets, like clothing. Then, it was  hung  to  dry  with  clothespins.  It  was edited by hand, cut-and-paste,  and  then  transferred  to  video.  It  had  a  special,  suggestive  image  quality,  a  little  scratched,  sometimes  blurred.  Just  as  in  the  case  of Rubén Ortiz and Jesse Lerner’s  experimental  video  workshop,  Cal  Arts’  particular  way  of  dealing  with the interdisciplinarity and the  crossover  between  media  was  fascinating  and  showed  the  participants new work methods. Beatriz  Novaro’s  workshop  set  up  a  unique  environment.  I  had  the  opportunity  to  attend,  along  with  Maya  Goded,  Katya  Brailovsky  and  Yvonne  Venegas,  among  others.  Beatriz  is  one  of  the  most  remarkable  people  I’ve  known.  You  can  actually  feel  her  absolute dedication to the projects,  her  intense  involvement  with  language and images in her work. Her  comments had the amazing effect  of  leading  the  way  to  words  that  had always been there, somewhere  in  the  back  of  your  mind—you  just  needed  someone  to  get  them  out.  We’d  write  pages  and  pages,  she’d  read  them,  immerse  herself  in  them,  and  she  managed  to  bring out the essence of our imagination.  Her  comments  seemed  magical: they pushed buttons that  took us further and further inside  ourselves,  to  that  place  where  the  deepest emotions can be naturally  associated with words. That’s when  I came up with the text for my book,  503

Álbum.  I  also  had  the  privilege  of  collaborating  with  Beatriz  on  my  new  book,  Kinderwunsch  [the  German word that is the combination of “children” and “desire”]. There was also a program of  basic,  intermediate  and  advanced  workshops  aimed  at  training  artists to approach photography from  a conceptual, critical and practical  point of view. They were taught by  Jesús  Sánchez  Uribe,  Alejandro  Castellanos,  Carlos  Morales  and  José Antonio Rodríguez. Jesús’s  classes  were  particularly  fascinating.  He  had  been  a  photography  teacher  for  a  long  time  at  the  cuec  [University  Center  for  Film  Studies],  and  with  an  important  body  of  work  as  an  artist,  Jesús  was—and  is— extraordinarily  skilled  in  terms  of  technique  applied  to  a  creative  discourse. His lighting classes led  students  to  really  understand  the  phenomenon  of  light,  combined  with  unique  darkroom  skills.  With  all  that,  plus  courses  involving  the  history  and  the  study  of  the  medium  in  Mexico,  taught  by  Alejandro  Castellanos  and  José  Antonio  Rodríguez,  we  managed  to  build  a  solid  program  on  many  different levels.  The  amazing  opportunity  of  inviting  artists  from  all  over  the  world  also  led  to  enriching  and stimulating exchanges. It was  especially  exciting  when  we  managed  to  bring  Duane  Michals.  Duane was a fascinating character,


with  an  amazing  sense  of  humor  in his work, which combines photo  and  writing  in  a  unique  way.  He  gave a talk to a full house and all of  us were there. It was a great privilege to see Duane present his own  work  and  also  to  spend  time  with  him. I  remember  how  nervous  Cristina  García  Rodero  was  when  she prepared her talk about her own  work. She spent three nights rearranging  the  audiovisual  presentation  of  her  photos,  with  music  by  Vangelis and Irene Papas. By then  nobody  did  audiovisual  presentations with slides and cassettes, and  it was a tedious, laborious process.  I  remember  Cristina  being  nervous and excited and carefully ironing her clothes in my living room  before her talk. Cristina: the amazing photographer from the darkest  heart of Spain, all nervous and all  decked out to show her work.  Joan  Liftin  came  several  times to teach her workshop about  documenting From the Inside Out. With a lot of experience as an editor and as director of the documentary  program  at  the  International  Center  of  Photography  in  New  York,  she  gave  a  workshop  about  critical  thinking  and  photography. It was where I learned to look  with amazement at [Jacques Henri]  Lartigue’s work as a child: the pictures of his toys, his nannies jumping around, the dog catching a ball  in  midair,  the  outfits  his  brother  the  inventor  wore,  the  first  cars,

the  first  planes,  the  history  of  an  era,  his  absolute  enjoyment  of  the  essence  of  photography,  of  movement,  of  time  standing  still,  of  a  reality  seen  from  a  boy’s  point  of  view  with one  of  the  first  pinhole  cameras in 1840. Charles  Harbutt  and  his  workshop, in which he picked apart  the  photographic  gaze,  introduced  a lot of new-fledged photographers  to  working  with  images.  Hana  Iverson,  who  based  her  workshop  on the personal relationship of artists with their subject matter, and  then  applied  it  to  different  media,  mixing  photography  with  video  and  installation  in  innovative  and  stimulating ways.  Tobias  Hohenacker  came  from Germany for his show. Then  he  came  back  again  the  following  year.  Since  he  spoke  German,  I  was his translator. As I listened to  what  I  was  translating  I  got  more  and more surprised. The workshop  was called Under the Surface of the Image / The Moment of Transition.  He asked for photocopies of a map  of  the  neighborhood  around  the  Centro de la Imagen. Each participant  was  blindfolded  and  threw  a  dart  at  the  map.  Where  it  landed  was where they had to go and take  pictures  for  a  couple  of  hours.  Each  day  everyone  looked  at  the  negatives.  We  learned  to  read  our  own  images.  We  learned  that  our  way  of  looking  can  sometimes  take  us  elsewhere,  somewhere  that  transcends  our  intentions  or  504


preconceptions.  We  taught  ourselves  to  read.  Pavka  Segura  took  the workshop. The first day he photographed a dog at the place where  he had to be. Two days later he saw  the  same  dog  again  and  decided  to follow it. He spent years photographing dogs in Mexico City.  Joan Fontcuberta came several  times  and  based  his  work  on  constantly  questioning  the  truth  of photography, and on how to use  photography  to  create  fiction.  His  projects  were  meant  to  continue  year after year, focusing on something, like blood for example, as an  element of identity, and it resulted  in really interesting works. One  of  the  constant  interests was how to make photographic  work in book form. So we thought  of different ways for narrative, editing  and  text  to  interact  with  each  other  in  a  photography  project  whose  end  result  was  a  book.  In  that sense, a lot of artists came who  worked on the subject from different perspectives. Carole Naggar, an  artist, writer and photography book  editor, came [from New York] to give  a workshop on the history of photography books. Alex Sweetman, a  photographer,  editor  and  curator,  gave an exciting workshop mixing  classical  editing  techniques  with  the  introduction  of  new  media  in  photography books. Arlene Raven,  a feminist writer and art historian  who’s written books on contemporary art, taught a writing workshop  for artists. In order to foster critical  505

thinking,  artists  were  encouraged  to  write  about  their  work  in  order  to  situate  it  in  the  context  of  contemporary  art.  Scott  Mac  Cartney  from  Rochester  gave  a  workshop  on handmade books.  One  of  the  last  workshops  while I was at the Centro was Phillip  Brookman  and  Jim  Goldberg’s.  Goldberg’s  book  Raised by Wolves,  published  by  Scalo,  was  particularly  stimulating.  The  story  over  several years of a group of teenagers who live on the streets was narrated in a book where the freedom  of  the  design,  the  use  of  pictures  of objects, the writing and the different  levels  of  the  narrative  were  really  interesting.  Maya,  Katya,  Yvonne  and  I  took  this  workshop  again.  It  taught  us  a  method  for  editing  books  that  has  been  useful  in  many  ways.  We’d  hang  the  pictures on the wall, editing them  visually. This happened just before  I  left  the  Centro  to  finish  Álbum,  and that workshop stirred up a lot  of  ideas  that  really  left  their  mark  on some of us. Many  other  people  came,  like  Ron  O’Donnell—who  made  installations  with  recycled  objects  that  became  these  fantastic,  constructed images—Susan Meiselas,  Mary  Ellen  Mark,  Eikoh  Hosoe,  Keith  Carter,  Joseph  Rodríguez,  Nils  Udo,  Heinz  Cibulka,  Andrea  Sodomka,  Max  Kozloff,  Penelope  Umbrico, Sally Gall… Artists  who  attended  these  workshops  included  Eniac  Mar-


t  í nez,  Pía  Elizondo,  Francisco  Mata, Eric Jervaise, Ricardo Alzati,  Maya  Goded,  Patricia  Lagarde,  Marianna Dellekamp, among others.  In  the  fine-art  print  workshop taught by Koudelka’s printer,  Boya Metrovic, it was the first time  Héctor  García  got  a  perfect  print  of that famous picture of Siqueiros  sticking his hand out between the  bars.  It  was  fascinating  to  see  the  test prints hanging in the lab. The Centro has been a place  where  the  roles  of  student  and  teacher get switched around, leading to a real exchange of ideas and  experiences.  It’s  been  very  important  in  the  long  run  to  have  seen  how  some  of  people  who  are  now  excellent  photography  teachers,  artists who make solid, innovative  work, began their work as teachers  giving  workshops  at  the  Centro,  alongside more established artists. There  were  also  workshops  on  alternative  photo  techniques,  conservation,  children’s  workshops,  workshops  on  portraiture,  densitometry, illumination, fine-art  printing, etc. They featured teachers  like  Mauricio  Alejo,  Antonio  Turok,  Mariana  Yampolsky,  Laura  Cohen,  Adria na  Calatayud,  Laura  Barrón,  Juan  Rodrigo  Llaguno,  Gabriel  Figueroa,  Ricardo  Garibay,  Juan  Carlos  Valdéz,  Katya  Brailovsky, Maritza López, Enrique  Villaseñor, Daniel Weinstock, Eric  Jervaise, Silvana Agostoni, Oweena  Fogarty,  Pablo  Ortiz  Monasterio,  Julio  Galindo,  Agustín  Estrada,

Lourdes Almeida, Vicente Guijosa,  Javier  Ramírez  Limón,  Ricardo  Alzati  and  Federico  Gama,  and  many others.  It  was  madness.  I  used  to  program  all  the  workshops  that  I  thought  were  worth  doing.  Seven  days  a  week,  twelve  hours  a  day.  Over  the  first  years  I  did  everything  myself:  the  invitations,  programs,  media,  the  accounting,  management,  even  placing  the  chairs,  running  the  slides,  making coffee. More than three workshops a day, all week long, all year  long.  Laureana  Toledo  worked  with  me  for  a  few  months,  and  a  few years after that, Pavka Segura  also  assisted  the  department.  I  remember  we  got  hold  of  the  back courtyard for workshops and  turned  each  gallery  into  a  classroom. We managed to form workteams  with  over  fifteen  assistants  who were doing their servicio social   and  made  it  all  work.  People  took  part  in  this  who  have  now  made  a  name  for  themselves  in  the  world of photography like Cannon  Bernáldez, Mariana Gruener, Juan  José  Ochoa,  César  Evangelista,  and many others.  Five years went by in a kind  of  whirlwind  where  Patricia  was  the  eye  of  the  storm.  The  Centro  became a place where many things  converged—it  was  alive,  chaotic  and  full  of  contradictions.  Now,  in  retrospect,  I  understand  it  was  what  needed  to  be  done  at  a  time  when  many  changes  were  taking  506


place,  and  it  was  a  great  privilege  for me to be a part of such a vital  and challenging project.  I  left  the  Centro  in  1998.  It was time for me to move on, to  center  myself  again  and  dedicate  myself to my own work. I got funding to publish my book Álbum and  it took me a while to put it together.  Javier  Ramírez  Limón  took  over  the workshop department and that  gave me a sense of relief. But  the  Centro  remained  part of my life, this time as an artist.  In  December  of  2001  I  had  the chance to present Álbum as an  exhibition  there,  taking  up  over  half  the  Centro’s  galleries.  It  was  exciting to see my pictures in that  space:  the  four  nudes  from  my  diet journals hung in the back gallery—the same one where Sombras  had  been  shown  at  the  Centro’s  opening in 1994.  I  didn’t  stay  away  for  very  long.  I  went  back  to  the  education  department  in  2002  when  Alejandro  Castellanos  invited  me  to  collaborate  with  him  and  Lourdes Báez in the programming  of FotoGuanajuato, which went on  until 2006. Alejandro was already  the director of Centro de la Imagen  by then. We organized a complete  photography program for students  with scholarships from eight states  in West-Central Mexico, along with  a colloquium that included exhibitions, talks, panel discussions and  portfolio reviews. To lend continuity  to  the  Centro’s  organization  of  507

the workshops, we adapted the concept to a program that could cater  to  the  needs  of  a  group  of  people  from several different states in the  country.  Based  on  the  students  producing  a  photography  project  under the guidance of a tutor, the  workshops  provided  information  about  key  issues  concerning  conception  and  production,  such  as  image analysis, the history of photography, curating, etc. This  model  worked  well:  overseeing projects form their conception  to  their  production,  and  finally, their exhibition. In the last  stage, we worked with participants  on  the  images’  technical  aspects,  actually  applying  the  practical  knowledge.  Participants  included  artists  like  Jesús  Jiménez,  Arelí  Vargas,  Javier  Cárdenas  Tavizón,  Ricardo  Sierra,  Elivet  Aguilar,  Ricardo  Cerqueda,  Cintia  Durán,  Rogelio Séptimo, Alejandro Cartagena,  and  many  others  who  then  formed  collectives,  photography  schools,  but  most  importantly,  who have made their mark on the  practice of photography in various  states  in  the  country.  Alejandro  Castellanos  and  Lourdes  Báez  were  behind  this  space  that  fostered the study and creation of photography,  they  were  serious  about  accomplishing  research,  and  they  tried  to  decentralize  the  context  around current issues in photography. This is a model that has since  influenced  other  educational  programs in Mexico.


We  invited  tutors  like  Ge rar do Montiel Klint, Laura Barrón  and  Gustavo  Prado,  who  lent  continuity to the program, which also  involved  other  teachers  like  José  Antonio  Rodríguez,  Humberto  Chávez, Yolanda Andra de, Ar man-   do Cristeto, to mention only a few.  It was based on this experience that  we  began  a  fruitful  collaboration  with Gerardo Montiel, who helped  define  some  important  points  in  the development of the educational  programs. And finally in 2007 I joined  the Centro’s workshop department  again,  but  as  a  freelancer,  helping  coordinate  the  Contemporary  Photography  Seminar,  and  then  later  as  a  tutor.  That  installment  of  the  photography  seminar  built  on  all  those  past  experiences  and  allowed us to set up a teaching program  that  focused  on  the  process  of  creation,  but  with  an  extraordinary  amount  of  freedom.  This  program  attempted  to  accompany  every participant through the steps  involved in developing a project, in  the complex process of establishing  connections  to  a  personal  imaginary,  unique  to  each  person,  and  in  effectively  translating  it  into  a  structured discourse. It’s based on  individually focusing on each person’s  process,  on  accompanying,  listening to and helping a group of  people  who  have  a  common  need  and  interest  in  expressing  themselves by means of photography: to  accompany  them  in  that  tenuous,

unique, inner dynamic that we call  creation.  The  teaching  is  structured  along  various  paths:  we  ask  the  teachers  we  invite  to  base  themselves  on  this  model,  but  at  the  same  time,  the  teachers  involved  enrich  the  program  with  their  own  discourse,  so  the  experience  of  practicing  photographers  is  incorporated into the program. We  invite  different  types  of  tutors  so  that  students  are  exposed  to  distinct  and  often  opposite  points  of  view,  so  they  can  forge  their  own  personal outlook.  We’ve insisted on the importance  of  forming  non-homogeneous groups, so that the criterion  in  our  selection  of  applicants  is  their need to create their own personal artistic  discourse.  So  people  of different backgrounds, ages and  interests  end  up  forming  highly  diverse  groups  that  benefit  from  the  dialogue.  I  think  this  is  yet  another of the seminar’s major contributions  to  the  concept  of  teaching, given that it allows the work to  focus in a very tangible way on the  essence  of  the  issue:  each  artist’s  unique creation and connection to  the medium.  And, coming full circle, the  seminar  is  being  organized  again  as  of  2010  in  collaboration  with  Lourdes  Báez,  now  as  the  director of CaSa, the Arts Center of San  Agustín  Etla  in  Oaxaca.  Working  in  parallel  with  two  groups—students  with  scholarships  from  508


several  southern  states  at  CaSa,  and  one  group  in  Mexico  City— we’ve  managed  to  organize  a  program  with  particularly  fruitful  exchanges.  The  program  at  CaSa,  which is an extraordinary space, is  open to more experimental educational  projects,  and  it’s  led  to  new  ways of interacting and working at  the Centro.  So  at  the  seminar,  photographers from different countries— Spain,  Chile,  Argentina,  Peru,  Brazil—meet  photographers  from  different  regions  of  Mexico:  Oa xa-  ca, Campeche, Chiapas, Gue rre ro,  Puebla,  Quintana  Roo,  Tabasco,  Veracruz and Yucatan. These meetings  are  particularly  stimulating,  because they establish connections  between  different  experiences,  worldviews  and  media—in  sum,  they form a rich and varied mosaic  where work acquires new meaning.  It’s  fascinating  to  see  how  photography practice has left aside  a  lot  of  the  issues  that  image  theory  still  questions.  The  boundaries  between  photography  and  other media have been blurred in a  rather natural manner, and it’s the  conceptual  discourse  that  establishes  which  media  artists  will  use.  Photography’s  changing  and  permeable  nature  within  the  contemporary art panorama makes it a  living medium that changes at the  same time as our own vision of the  world and our way of relating to it.  The  current  panorama  of  photography reveals the need to generate  509

ideas based on the work being produced—critical thinking capable of  adapting itself to the changes that  the medium is constantly undergoing. The Centro de la Imagen has  had  a  visible  influence  on  photography’s  process  of  transformation  in Mexico. There  are  key  figures  in  Mexican  photography,  like  Jesús  Sánchez  Uribe,  who  taught  workshops during the first years of the  Centro,  and  then  distanced  himself  from  the  medium,  but  luckily came back more than ten years  later,  as  a  teacher  at  the  seminar  and as an artist showing his work  in  the  exhibition  galleries.  It  was  a  unique  privilege  in  every  sense,  but especially in terms of the cycles  in the life of artists who provide a  perspective  on  the  medium  that’s  particularly  rich  and  profound.  Likewise,  Alejandro  Castellanos,  who  collaborated  with  us  when  we  started  the  workshops,  came  back  as  a  teacher  at  the  seminar,  enriching  it  with  his  long-term  experience and his outlook on the  contemporary context.  Gerardo Montiel K lint’s work  might be one of the clearest examples  of  these  cycles,  where  the  Centro  has  been  a  key  element  in  his  process  of  evolution  as  an  artist  and  a  teacher.  Gerardo  started  his  photography  career  here,  in  a  class with Marco Antonio Pacheco.  Over the years he’s created a solid  body of work that deals with symbolically  loaded  topics  and  that


also  reveals  a  particularly  interesting  way  of  understanding  the  medium.  With  a  solid  technical  and  conceptual  background,  he  posits photographic discourse as a  language  with  a  coherent  alliance  of  form  and  content.  While  he’s  kept working on his own practice,  Gerardo  has  also  been  a  valuable  teacher  and  has  influenced  subsequent generations of Mexican photographers. Combining the history  of photography with an overview of  current practice, and teaching both  digital and analogue techniques as  a  natural  part  of  the  construction  of  a  discourse,  his  classes  train  students  so  they  can  find  professional  employment  within  the  medium.  He’s  won  the  [Mexico  City]  Photography  Biennale  twice,  he’s been a tutor at the fonca and  at other grant programs around the  country, and he’s also taught workshops in Mexico and abroad.  Maya  Goded  is  another  unique  example—her  extraordinary  work  is  also  associated  with  the  Centro  in  many  ways.  When  I  talked  to  her  about  this  article,  she  reminded  me  that  her  first  exhibition  was  one  that  I  had  the  chance  to  curate  in  1993  at  Zona,  an  independent  gallery  I  collaborated with for a while. That’s where  we  became  friends,  always  based  on  our  fascination  for  photography,  talking  about  it  and  sharing  ideas,  pictures,  projects…  She  told me about how the Centro had  been  important  in  her  life  at  the

time, and how we always ended up  somewhere  talking  about  photography, meeting up with other photographers.  And  at  the  workshop  that  Beatriz  Novaro  taught,  Maya  wrote texts about her project on sex  workers  that  she’s  been  working  on  for  years.  She’s  also  continued to include texts in all her work. On  one  occasion,  Rafael  Doctor,  a  Spanish  curator  I  met  in  Madrid,  came  to  the  Centro  to  review  portfolios  for  an  exhibition  at  the  art  center  of  the  Canal  de  Isabel  II.  He  included  Maya’s  work  and  that  of  Tatiana  Parcero,  Mauricio Rocha, Carmen Mariscal,  Daniel  Weinstock  and  also  mine,  among  others’.  A  few  years  later,  Rafael invited Maya to do her first  solo  show  at  the  Museo  de  Arte  Reina Sofía. That’s when she really  started  getting  exposure.  Maya  has  established  herself  with  an  extraordinary body of work that is  fundamental in the context of contemporary  photography.  Her  work  has  reformulated  the  concept  of  documentary  photography  based  on  the  questioning  of  the  photographer’s  gaze—on  an  honest  and  deeply personal vision of the body,  sexuality and female identity.  Another case in point is José  Luis Cuevas, who participated years  ago in one of the Centro’s seminars,  and  who  since  then  has  produced  interesting  work  that  extends  the  boundaries  of  documentary  photography to naturally touch on contemporary photographic language.  510


In  his  work  entitled  El hombre promedio  (The  Average  Man)  he  already  combined  documentation  with  a  personal,  original  and  coherent  language,  where  digital  processing  constructs  an  innovative  photographic  discourse.  This  piece  received  an  honorable  mention  at  the  Photography  Biennale.  Now  he’s  working  on  a  particularly interesting project about religious  groups.  On  the  other  hand,  he  founded  the  Gimnasio  de  Arte  (‘Art  Gymnasium’),  a  workshop  where a lot of young photographers  are taking classes, as it establishes  a  space  of  its  own  in  the  field  of  photography education. Several generations of artists  have  passed  through  the  Centro,  attending its workshops and seminars,  and  been  exposed  to  each  other’s  work,  sharing  experiences  in  new  ways.  Networks  have  been  created that support a different way  of making and thinking about photography  in  Mexico,  and  that  have  managed  to  broaden  our  vision  from many different angles within  a solid and extensive framework.  Over the past eighteen years,  the  Centro  has  been  a  vital  space  of  experience—in  every  sense,  and  also  for  me.  I’ve  had  crucial  experiences  there,  including  the  opportunity  to  set  up  an  education  department  that  has  brought

511

together several generations of artists in a fruitful exchange, and the  opportunity  to  witness  firsthand  the process by which so many artists make work and exchange ideas.  The  Centro  has  also  enriched  my  own work, and I’ve had the chance  to see it exhibited in this extraordinary space’s galleries. But above all,  it has given me the privilege of adding  my  own  thoughts  as  an  artist  to the experience of helping others  in their learning process: a mutual  exchange of ideas and experiences,  in which my work has been fed by  the ideas and stimulation of being  in contact with other artists, young  and  old.  The  constant  questioning  of  photographic  language— from  the  point  of  view  of  practice  as well as from the point of view of  teaching—looking for vital means  of  communication  and  exchange  with  students  and  other  teachers  in  a  fertile  field  where  ideas  and  images can flow freely.  Closing  the  circle  gives  meaning  to  this  space.  Openended  structures.  A  privileged  center where images and ideas are  created. A center in every sense of  the  word:  a  center  of  experiences,  a  center  of  education,  a  center  of  thought, and above all, a center of  creation. Tr. Jessica Dichi





Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.