A Memory Through a Vaselined LensSaturday, October 12, 2019
It was in 1953 that my mother took a trip of exploration to Mexico City from our then home in Buenos Aires. My grandmother had suggested we look for another place to live because of the mounting crisis with Perón.
She came back from a country that was all exotic for me. Not being from Mexico we in Argentina pronounced the country in Spanish as México without using the softer h to replace that x. My mother told us of volcanoes and mountains, of tortillas and Aztecs. It seemed all like a fairy tale to me.
Somehow I have never lost that feeling that Mexico is as exotic as India or China. There is that additional connection that I have with its language, that I was raised there in the golden age of Mexican art and film, that I married a luscious blonde from Canada there, that we visited my mother who lived in that ancient port city of Veracruz, that our two daughters were born in Tacubaya in Mexico City and probably best of all that my hobby interest in photography became a profession there.
After settling down in our new home city of Vancouver I returned to Mexico as I wrote here.
But there was an incident in that year in Oaxaca that left me with that question mark that is at the end of “what would have been if I had…?”
I wrote about that here and here. And I have pretty well left it receded in some corner of my receding memory.
Until last night, when I was ordering and filing all my Mexico slides, b+w negative and colour negatives from my several visits there.
In a b+w contact sheet taken with my Mamiya and with the only lens I had at the time, a wide angle (for the 6x7cm format) 65mm, I spotted five frames of that lovely Mexican woman called Ana Victoria.
I had sudden rush of feeling almost similar to that of seeing photographs by Timothy O’Sullivan of American Civil War soldiers at the Lincoln Library in Buenos Aires when I was 8 or 9 years old. The pictures were of men that looked very much like the men walking outside on Calle Florida. The pictures of Ana Victoria (I have no memory of having used that unwieldy Mamiya RB-67) I had never noticed or seen before. I look at the pictures (they are strangely new) and I wonder what ever happened to her. Is she alive? Is she happy?
And what would have happened had I accepted her invitation to fly with her to Puerto Escondido? Would I be writing this now? From here?
But there is one most negative addition. Why would I have spread Vaseline on a clear filter to soften the surround area of my full-length portraits of Ana Victoria? The pictures look dreamy because of the effect but they are also a blur in my memory.