Alexandria - Oriana - AlexandriaSunday, July 06, 2008
Sometime at the end of the 50s my uncle, who at the time was in Egypt, proposed to my mother that I attend the University of Alexandria. I remember going with her to the P&O representative in Mexico City to inquire about ticket prices. I was to go in the Oriana. But this strange dream of my uncle's was for naught as Nasser suddenly banned the use of English from the curriculum. I never made it to Alexandria.
I have never been to Egypt and much less explored the stacks of the library in Alexandria. But there has been a small measure of ancillary pleasure involved in my pursuit of another Alexandria. Alexandria posed for my camera for several years. She was the perfect model, uncomplicated in that she was always available for pictures. She was pleasant and as my friend Juan Manuel Sanchez was fond of saying of such a woman , "muy plástica" which is his Argentine way of describing a body that is flexible and moldable to his style.
With Alexandria (considering that the two previous posts feature photographs of women on their backs and upside down) I finally nailed down a favourite cliché which unfortunately I cannot show here as the pictures have to have a modicum of decency. In these photographs I posed Alexandria upside down with cigarette in mouth and with sunlight streaming in through a Venetian blind, projecting zig zag marks on her undraped body. With Alexandria I tested all kinds of lighting techniques, lenses and film stocks.
Many of the pictures that I took of her never saw the light of day because of the expense of making prints from slides. I rarely shot 35mm slides but in one occasion I photographed Alexandria in her apartment with a Kodak transparency film in 35mm format that had an ISO (ASA) rating of 800 but could be nicely pushed to 1600. The results had contrast and grain. With the advent of my scanner I am now able to put them here with ease.
I am too old to take some of the photographs that can only be taken with the latest technology. Not because I could not master the technology but more so because of that gold card in my pocket. Read further to find out why.
Years back I affixed a Nikon FM-2 to the hub of a cyclist's front wheel and threaded the wire of the motor drive to his right hand so that he could take pictures as he pedaled. I would like to see the same principle made easier by strapping cheap digital point and shoots to skateboards and snowboards. I have always rejected the shooting of pornography and gotten very close to doing it. I have always recoiled in the end as good taste prevailed. But the idea of strapping a point and shoot to one's forehead and... I need not go any further. You can imagine the impact of capturing (to use this new term that has replaced take or expose) the frenzy and intimacy of such physical closeness.
In some way when I looked at Alexandria's slides which I took with the fast slide film I am shocked to find a level of intimacy that I did not see then. Being behind my camera can do that.
It protects you by distancing you. I did not see then what I see here now. In most the clothes are on but the darkness and the stark colours seem to ooze with eroticism.