Mexico City: Images from an Exhibition
(Subject from the Zocalo, subjected to the author’s eye and hand)
Tangents blur. Lost in footsteps and eye contact. Neurons leap out of the skull.
In a previous post about Mexico City (CDMX) entitled:
Mexico City Our Pilgrimage Paths,
I call our recent trip there a “psychogeographical tour,” a type of wandering focused on capturing the historical psychic atmospheres found in unaccustomed places and especially foreign cities.
In this post I’m sharing the flavor of the impressions I came away with– by posting select images from an exhibition my wife and I are having at a Java Joes, a popular café here in Santa Fe. It’s up all of November.
The pieces start off as photos—- but through the editing process and mutli-media approach to treating them– they become a medium for channeling the residue history and culture have left behind.
Basically it’s all about the “vibes” one finds in leaving the usual tourist haunts whether the
Labyrinth streets of Cairo…
A ferry to the Asian side of Istanbul….
Or wandering nighttime streets of CDMX…
It’s all the same. You wander like a psychic sponge soaking up that certain something a place emits.
It’s subjective for sure. But never imagined by those who inhabit the place. As a visitor I’m free to free-associate and let the magic guide my impressions.
ON THE WAY TO TEPITO
The infamous Tepito neighborhood grows from the outer edges of the Centro Historico area anchored by the Zocalo—the huge plaza at the center.
Tepito’s known for all things counterfeit, contraband and illicit. And…”I coulda been a contenda,” even some prizefighters.
It’s something of a no-go zone for Gringos and most Mexicans alike.
One night we wander the blocks and blocks of streets housing manufacturing and warehouses.
It’s just us. And our tail—a dark figure that follows us from street to street.
Finally after the shot above we turn around and stare him down.
He slinks into the shadows of a side street as we head back towards the Zocalo where the Aztec dancers drum, clang bells and chant in some plea for a forever -return of golden gods and a Feathered Serpent.
PLAZA GARABALDI AND A FOLKSY PIMP
(Rain on the plaza)
Another night I find myself once again on the outskirts of Tepito—this time on the other side flanking the Alameda area where Plaza Garibaldi lies.
It’s famous for the music. Every night mariachi bands compete for the favor of the patrons in the pulgue and mescal joints lining the square.
Normally it’s pretty tranquil if a little rough on the edges. But about 2 months ago five people were dispatched here in a turf war between gangs when assassins on scooters carried out the deadly deed.
I grab a seat on a banco under some trees. And as soon as I lit my Spirit and began taking in the sights….
A 40ish looking man with a shaved head and hipster sunglasses like you’d see at a rave– came ambling my way. He was trailed by a man about the same age with a long face, crazy googly eyes and a laugh like a braying donkey.
I just sit. Nothing to be alarmed about. I’ll talk to just about anyone anyway.
The Folksy Pimp adopts the universal pose—a slightly hunched tilt to his body and open arms like he’s trapping game on the Savannah and a big friendly smile—that says, “I want something from you.”
“Polanco?” he says.
Meaning: the Beverly Hills area of Mexico City. Funny I would never have associated the travel-worn cotton sport coat I wore –with that area.
“No,” I say. And he immediately switches to English as most street hustlers worthy of the name can do.
We shot the shit about things. He was good at pacing the conversation. He didn’t come across as hungry or desperate. Finally in a low, guttural, conspiratorial voice he says,
“You want something freaky?”
He put special emphasis on the “eeeee” at the end. He sure knew how to make taboo-breaking sound tempting while dangerous at the same time.
“No not tonight. Gracias,” I answer. Then add;
“Hey take care.”
The Folky Pimp shifts his weight to one side and cocks his head to the sky…like he’s listening to some message from the heavens—and says:
“Take care. I like that.” Before disappearing into the sea of the plaza.
ROMA—MEXICO CITY’S EAST VILLAGE
(detail from a Roma building)
Since we stay in Colonia Condessa next door, we find ourselves crisscrossing Colonia Roma all the time. It resembles the East Village 20 years ago.
Its Mercado and the old time shops and manufacturing this working class neighborhood once depended on—contend with the kinds of things you see folks creating in Brooklyn and Portland.
It’s ripe for graffiti and tagging—we weren’t disappointed. Besides my attraction to street art I document because it can disappear under a rival’s work or a city’s paint crew.
It was here we searched for the building where Beat William Burroughs had a performance go wrong and ended up shooting and killing his wife. The building itself disappears into the background.
But a half block away was Luz Divina, a beautifully realized portrait of the kind of thing that’s always made Mexico City a popular place for Surrealists.
When someone mentions “the pyramids “ in Mexico City they mean Teotihuacan, la Ciudad de los Dioses…the old pre-Aztec digs about an hour out of the city.
(Psilocybin Pyramid–Pyramid of the Sun)
We climbed the Pyramid of the Sun there– the subject of the image above and below. It’s the 3rd largest pyramid in the world after Giza and one in Southern Mexico. And it’s a sight.
And what can say about a pyramid. Viewing these large structures brings out something primal, something that exists at DNA level as far as I’m concerned.
(Pyramid of the Sun–photo/mixed media)
So I let my imagination carry the day. Somehow that feels like the Mexican thing to do.
The images you see here are all available. Printed on good paper they retail between $35 and $50 each –post paid. Contact me for details at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 505.570.7325