Sunday, February 12, 2012

200 Pesos Art

La Novia del Viejo by Ricardo Tames

Mexico.  Playa del Carmen.
5th Avenue.  The Habana Cafe.  One night.
Half laying on a red stained couch, I am smoking a hookah.
Slowly, really slowly, I am savoring every scented puff.  The sweat smell of the apple smoke blown out of the pipe softly invades my delighted nostrils.  I feel calm and alone despite the surrounding tourists’ mayhem.
It’s the power of the hookah.
Salsa rhythms from everywhere no longer reach my ears.  It’s a moment of self-awareness.  I think about nothing.  I just feel each beat of my heart and enjoy every pulse of my dying life.  Pure bliss.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a man’s voice breaks off my trance.  Fuck!  It must be one of those guys who wants to sell me one of those horrible colorful bracelets. Worst, a mariachi.
But no, this time it’s not a street dealer.  This time, it’s a young guy. 
He says he’s a photographer. 
He says he’s selling pictures.
He says he has a portfolio.
He asks me where do I come from.
Oh!  What a coincidence!  One of his pictures represents a roaster.  He tells me that French tourists love this picture, that they buy it.
I tell him that I don’t and that I won’t.
I want to peruse the book.  With my own eye. At my own pace.  Like a hookah.  My eyes melt.  This mofo is talented.
One of the pictures called “La novia del Viejo” catches my eye. There is something of a Diane Arbus’ picture, the one representing a transvestite at a drag ball***.  Same weirdness. Same humanity.
He says he also takes conceptual photographs.
Let’s see. Hum.  Yes, he is gifted.
How much?  200 pesos.  3 pictures, 200 pesos*.
Shit!  The price of my hookah. I really want them not only because I like his work but also because I find it inspiring to see this artist working hard to promote his art knowing that most of the time the people he will meet do not give a damn about his conceptual shots.
I must also say that I am angry. Mad.  Because today it’s about money and network.  Not about pure talent. Not about art and the love of it.
Ricardo gives me the three pictures I want. I tell him that I will leave an envelope containing 200 pesos at the desk of La Tortuga.  He trusts me. 
Ricardo Tames**. It’s his name.

Alda Mori

*200 pesos = approx. 18$ / 15 euros

***Transvestite at a drag ball, N.Y.C, 1970 by Diane Arbus

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