Thu. Mar 21st, 2019

A 'voyeur' among the collapsed greatness of Mexico | Culture

A 'voyeur' among the collapsed greatness of Mexico | Culture



If the art were more literal, all the photographs of Bernardo Aja would have a black frame with a lock. EntreMuros, (exhibition that started yesterday at Casa de América, in Madrid, and can be seen until February 9) revolves in the daily lives of the old Mexican families as through the eye of a bolt. Interior images of large houses, where the current members of the great dynasties pose theatrically for him.

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"One family takes you to the other," says Aja about the exhibition. All the photos of the project are captured in a very clean black and white. Sirs. Ladies. Well-scattered girls on expensive rugs. Mirrors. An older man suspended from a pulley. Rich that are left packed with plastic. A duchess who looks at camera with her great-grandson. Games with shadows projected on sheets in a courtyard of the Roma neighborhood (yes, black and white and Colonia Roma, but do not saturate with the Cuarón movie). "They are not models. Everything that happens is true and true. And it is part of the transcendence in the linguistic line of the work. What you see, exists, are characters who live in their homes. "

The certain thing is that Aja plays to twist the poses of these VIP people, descendants, as he indicates, of "very old families that are the last whiplash of a historical Spain of expansion, of the XVII and XVIII centuries". People who today constitute "an entire society that disappears, on the verge of leaving earthly existence".

The core of the project is Mexico, where the photographer lives, but also visits Peru or the Philippines. "You find them, they are there. Photographic works very well because there is a very visual architecture, and some characters that can take you to very interesting situations, "he explains. EntreMuros It is a project to satiate a curiosity: what is this Hispanic transmission within a continent, in his words, "so tropical, so hot, so action-packed. So exotic and intoxicating. " Born in Cantabria in 1973 and trained in California and New York, the first knock on the career of Aja was between 1997 and 2000, when he served as personal photographer of the former president (and autocrat) of Peru Fujimori. "It was my gateway to America," he explains about that time. "And, well, it was a much more normal experience than you might think. A lot of diplomatic agenda, many events ... but in the end people are people, we all go to the supermarket. "

Back to EntreMuros, in the texts that speak of the exhibition there are words that are repeated: snoop, voyeur... Does Aja agree with these terms? "Of course not! But I do not do the texts, Elena Poniatowska does them, neither more nor less. Let's see who says Dona Elena not, "he asks laughingly. It is true, are the texts of the Mexican Cervantes Prize that preface the exhibition on this ancient aristocracy of Mexico, "today little visible of so faint," defines Poniatowska. "Bernardo Aja took them with care taking care of their emotional heritages, the objects that caged them like canaries or parakeets from Australia, the portraits of their ancestors hanged forever on the wall, their furniture endearing for moth-eaten and one-eyed".

Missing

The following Aja project will focus on another side of the Mexican currency. Agnosis will deal with the disappeared. "Living in Mexico and being an artist you can not ignore that embarrassment and shame we have in the country, this corruption, this stream of murders. The last 12 years there are 250,000 murders and 70,000 missing. It is something unworthy of the cultural and intellectual essence of any country, "he says. "When I can, as I can, with the margins of action that I have, I do this project, Agnosis, totally related to human rights. I work with the most disadvantaged social classes, photographing the search for missing relatives, especially by civil organizations in Sinaloa and Veracruz, where they basically seek their children in the most austere and gallant way. " And he describes how those families, with cast cement rods, prick the floor and smell the rod. If it smells like rot, it can be an animal ... or a body.

Aja walks through the large format photographs and recalls anecdotes of how he took them. And remember that atmosphere. An atmosphere that is "that of decency, that of the mirrors of past greatness", in the words of Poniatowska. "That of the sweet illusions of a waltz that has already been danced, and of which only the lamps were left off".

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