Al EspejoMonday, August 16, 2010
¿Por qué persistes, incesante espejo?
¿Por qué duplicas, misterioso hermano,
el movimiento de mi mano?
¿Por qué en la sombra el súbito reflejo?
Eres el otro yo de que habla el griego
y acechas desde siempre. En la tersura
del agua incierta o del cristal que dura
me buscas y es inútil estar ciego.
El hecho de no verte y de saberte
te agrega horror, cosa de magia que osas
multiplicar la cifra de las cosas
que somos y que abarcan nuestra suerte.
Cuando esté muerto, copiarás a otro
y luego a otro, a otro, a otro, a otro…
Jorge Luís Borges 1975
In the last few years I have taken many portraits (below, left, Vancouver actress/director Lois Anderson, and below, centre, my ex-student Cordelia) using a big mirror I purchased at Ikea. The mirror was the only useful and well-made piece of furniture I ever bought there.
When I let go of my studio in September my son-in-law Bruce Stewart helped me move some of the stuff and bring I home. While loading the mirror into his car he stepped on the mirror. “What shall I do with it?” he asked. “Throw it away I said,” as I felt an agony going through me. That mirror had been a special friend and a source of lots of inspiration.
A mirror, in fact ushered my self-awareness back in 1948. I was 6 and my mother had obtained through her friends at the Buenos Aires American Embassy a nice big bag of candy corn. There was nothing like it in Buenos Aires. I was much too young to appreciate how good our Argentine chocolate was. I simply had to have more of this candy corn but my mother would dish it out in small portions and then put the bag back in a large armoire she had in her bedroom. Because our house was small my bed was outside the bedroom, nestled in a corner of the living room. The bedroom, my father’s and mother’s, was simply out of bounds for me except for an important exception. I was commanded to have siestas by our housekeeper Mercedes and to ease me, in this task that did not want to do, I was allowed to sleep on my parent’s large bed. It was special.
As I lay in bed I could see the flickering of movement in the steel persianas that were attached to the window/door that faced the back garden. As Mercedes hung clothes to dry, her movements would register (I was many years away from reading about Plato’s cave) as flickering shadows and bits of lights suggesting the surreal existence of a hot Buenos Aires summer afternoon. I could hear the cicadas.
It was during one of those hot afternoons, that a thought came to my head. I was going to help myself to all the candy corn I wanted. I got up and opened one of the armoire doors. I found the clear cellophane package and gorged myself. I noticed that there was a mirror on the inside of the door and I stared at myself. I went through a process that I will never forget (which had nothing to do with the chinelazos, or a whipping that I got from my other where she used a Filipino sandal, as punishment). I looked at the person in the mirror and I thought, “That is me. I am that person in the mirror. I am nobody else and nobody else is me. That’s me.”