We all enter this world with an animal brother, a dual creature, a twin in the forest.
A newborn baby’s destiny is linked throughout its lifetime with either a gentle beast or fierce wild animal. It could be an eagle, tiger, fox, coyote, puma, bull, tapir, sparrow hawk or deer. These are good twins that enable your child to look into their eyes or name itself with their secret words. However, this animal may also be a horse, wildcat, rabbit, dog, cat, rooster, turkey or goose, which are not so good even though we can live with them in the world over time. Or it could be even worse: a hen, chicken, vulture or pig! Heaven forbid!
How could they, our distant ancestors, paint so delicately? How could they, savages who fought wild beasts, create such graceful figures? How could they draw these volatile lines that escape from the rock and disappear into the air? How could they...?
Or were they women?
Eduardo Galeano, Mirrors. An almost universal history
THE ABSENT PREPOSITION. The title appears to be unfinished. Letters of Flor?, for Flor?, before Flor?, with Flor?, does Flor fit?... That's the way it has to be for these and other options; however, this must take place in groups because, in itself, none of these options can truly express all that this title should convey to us.
Later on, we’ll discuss some of the meanings of the word flor (flower) to enable us to understand ―the paradoxes of life― how the incomplete becomes more complete and the ambiguous clearer.
PERCEPTION. Observe. Discover how the dimensions of creators and creatures blend together. Look at Creation: after the firstborn ―Eve, Adam― there are others of flesh and blood whose feet emerge impudently.
Human materiality hides behind the myth.
WONDER. Wonder comes shortly after birth. And judgment is gradually born through wonder. Judgment explains wonder and humankind continues to be amazed, albeit with a sense of judgment. And then, with old age, comes the judgment of judgment.
There is no direct path from wonder to judgment. When judgment is broken by fresh wonder, a new judgment is required to shatter this wonder with reason. Cause therefore explains effect.
I wish to exemplify wonder by looking to Flor: if the gods created a difference between man and beast, if this separation was total and inevitable, could there be intermediaries? A bull is a wild beast; man is the owner that ties and masters it. And what of the leaping goat? What does it think it's doing free from limitations and urbanity?
It seems ―neither man or beast― like a relative of horned, bearded devils.
It seeks reason and forms a judgment.
CALM. White rooster from Veracruz, your worthy stillness has been conserved as part of your image. Following the shutter’s click, you should have moved slowly, but that was another story. The fixed testimony of your phlegmatic self remains.
HORSES. An individual's encounter with their ancestry. A being that is only an image emerges from behind a wall of time. From here, it becomes aware of another being of flesh and blood. The former is white, praised, cleansed of innards and dung. Without flesh and blood, the whiteness is plaster. Without modeled plaster, the other is incapable of sustaining its flesh.
THE ENLIGHTENING COMPOSITION. Is it true that anything is actually there, showing everyone its mystery? No! It's a question of angle, focus, composition, pose, investigation. One horse and then another and another are situated upon the effigies of a dark-skinned woman. Lines are formed, columns raised and an exception that rejects inane regularity is created.
Reality and mystery belong to humanity. They are work. They are the fulfilled pact.
SINGER. Black rooster from Oaxaca, your vibrant song was conserved in the image. Following the shutter’s click, you were born of the street painter's brush, remaining still, silent and peaceful.
The still one sings and vibrates and the silent one sings and vibrates when they are images, because man's imagination embraces image. Images are frequently copies of reality and man ―the gods’ favorite son― imitates the gods to create new realities through images.
There are images of images and images of images of images…
Who could possibly doubt that we are made in the likeness of the gods?
FLOR, THERE. I see her in a joyful encounter with surprised birds taking flight above the forked tree branches. I see her when perspective recasts the vulture that waits next to the puddle for frogs to be born. I watch her stalk the surprising embrace of a jaguar in a street dance and see her surprised ―as though reality had crept up on the photographer― when discovering that the silent cat announces the next drum roll.
PRAYER. The line of saints is like a sequence of prayers, as though flowers strung on a thread. A string of works, a string of offerings. The images are potential spokespersons.
Prayers are presided over by the figure of a white horse, which is also a saint. It is a case. Some people say that a saint riding upon a horse appeared to help the invaders kill Indians. However, his horse is now different and is mounted by the Holy Ray. It is now a burial place because people brought wooden and stone boxes from afar.
I know that the gods made men here at the beginning of time. The gods wished to invent special creatures. They craved acknowledgment, respect, obedience and adoration. They also wanted offerings. How can you be a god without demanding offerings? Flowers, fire, the smell of food.
And so they ordered their creations to “speak, shout, warble, call… say then your names, praise us, your mother and father.”
The birds, deer, serpents and jaguars only squealed, cackled and cawed. The gods were overwhelmed by rage ―like that of a failed potter―, and they confined these incompetent creations to the ravines and forests, cursing their flesh which, from then on, could be crushed.
In light of this failure ―or perhaps need―, the gods tried again. They modeled clay, but the creatures, without strength or movement, fell apart in water. They carved wood; the dolls spoke and reproduced like the shoots of branches, but had no blood, substance or volume and therefore lacked the understanding needed to contemplate their creators. Insistent, the gods ground yellow and white corn. Finally, they succeeded. Their intention was fulfilled by enlightened children who spread over the face of the earth. As a song of victory, the gods ordered the dawn of the world. And so the Sun activated the great machinery of life and death.
That was how we spoke; how we thought; how we worked by nature from the very beginning, because by nature ―which is divine will―, we are differentiated from animals. This was how we acquired the responsibility to accept a pact with the gods: “I give to you and you give to me in order to move the world”.
There is nothing more worthy than the establishment of reciprocity.
The man prays. In this way he fulfills his part of the pact, as agreed at the beginning of time.
MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING. After inventing the animals, the gods created humanity from corn dough. They were unique creatures, fashioned in the likeness of their creators, able to recognize them through their intelligence, adore them through their words and feed them with the fruits of their labor.
However, humans soon discovered such affinities in animals that they used them to fulfill their obligations. By domesticating animals, they stripped them of their original character by making them appear as their own work. They sharpened the deer’s hooves and used them as knives to carefully probe the ripeness of corncobs. They turned the rest of the deer into offerings, prayers brimming with flesh, the messengers of suffering and hope. To ensure that this message was clear, sensible and convincing, they did not forget to send their victims' heads to the gods.
Accordingly, the voiceless ones became the speakers’ prayer.
THE WORK. The work is situated at the crossroads, at the point of encounter. Different currents intersect at a solar point that crystallizes. It is the dimension of the letter “x”. Dreams, memories, observations, the willingness to reach the point of fusion, surprise. The flock creates an unexpected cloud. Instant. Later come the different flights of the birds, work and creator, each with its own story.
The point of convergence of the “x” changes hope to memory.
THE IMAGE OF REALITY. Pliny the Elder truthfully related what he saw, read, heard and deduced. In his seventh book entitled Naturalis Historia, he described the admirable figures of different people. Among many other no less wonderful beings, he spoke of the Arimaspi, who lived near the Riphean Mountains. They are ―he says― “Characterized by a single eye in the middle of their foreheads”, men who in their craving for gold “constantly struggle for this metal with the griffins, a type of fierce bird”.
I ask Pliny: in the primitive, aqueous world, fronds served as skin and hair; when the tree trunk split to form legs and avoid puddles; when tree and man merged at the point of the “x”; when they are discovered by a surprised Flor, is their reality any less than that of the Arimaspi and the griffins?
MASKED GODS. Eyes behind other sockets; the gaze lost; strange metal skin, ox leather, porcupine spines. Tell me Sixtus, with which of your eyes do you see?
The Creator and Former finished sketching their creatures and sealed their fate forever. They abruptly separated their models. Some were given cases fashioned from metal, leather, water, stone, wood, blade, bristle or feather. Others, with greater care, were covered with the smooth paste of yellow and white corn. The material molded by the gods for this purpose changed.
Don't deceive yourself. The great secret is that everything covered was the same kind of substance: divine substance.
The gods had played on the courts of myth. With each goal they modified their nature, incorporating trophies. Before the final whistle, all of them were sketches of the future permanent condition that was made ready for the coming of the world. And then the Sun came out and activated the great machinery. They touched the dampness of the pristine morning with their tongues of fire. The players, which until that time had been protean, solidified and became subject to the cycle of life and death.
Don't deceive yourself: behind the metal, leather, water, stone, wood, blade, bristle and feather there is a masked god. Your pact is with the world.
WOMEN. They are the buzzard and condor hovering at the summit. Child and man give substance to the “ancient ones”, the gods of another space-time, feather-clad creators. When the Sun reigned, its rays of light dried up their wetness, leaving them as creatures above, in sight, and gods hidden in the depths.
A tender child is carried on a back. The woman does not pretend because she does not need to consider anyone, she is the creator.
Must excellence be justified by the specificity of gender? It is a great advantage that postulates can be set forth without reason or commitment.
However, if terms and times are inverted, if effect precedes cause, then there would be no room for doubt. The proposition would be well-founded.
EQUILIBRIUM. Wonder predominates when life begins. Ailments and judgment become refined with old age. However, we must not forget that the gods endowed us with both reason and emotions. And so, in order to understand the world, we need to live between judgment and wonder. Someone who only feels understands nothing; someone who only reasons understands nothing. We need to drag the point of convergence of the “x” along the road between the initial sense of wonder and final judgment.
The image embodies the free play of light and shadow. The image contains hidden millennia. Flor offers us particles of the world. According to the length of their existence, each individual balances the arms of the “x”.
APPLICATION AND ADJUSTMENTS
SPECIFICITY. The dream is the anteroom of the work. The woman dreams and dreams of beasts because she is a woman and because she goes beyond the confines of the world.
When the law had not yet been enacted, woman and beast shared nature. There was no male, no formed world, divisions had not yet been invented.
At that time, totality was something that can only be imagined in a woman's dreams, a gestating womb-like vision. Totality was named Cipactli. Was, is, will be, because Cipactli exists beyond time.
The woman works by following her dreams and brings the children of Cipactli into this world.
TORITO FIREWORKS. Blazing toritos, blood of fire! Smoking prelude of the fuse that ignites the reed structure. Flor jubilant amid the exploding fireworks. Ember of someone resting after the dance. Solar tongue that drinks the morning dewdrops.
THE NAHUAL. Mystery: all that the gods carefully separated exceeds its limits. Sin: all that the gods carefully separated is obscenely mixed. It is a child and vulture; a man and a jaguar; she is a dreamer and dreams of beasts.
In the dual nature of everything, contents claim their divine nature. Sometimes, due to the irony of fate, liquids are transferred.
And sin? Sin is the denial of inane continuity; it is the leap of creation. Without the serpent, Eve and Adam would never have gone down in universal history.
And sin? We are gods.
ART … and photography, like all art, does not transmit a sole message.
The force of the image is similar to the glass prism used by Newton to break a beam of light to show its component colors.
Or, if you like, it is similar to the fuse that ignites the gunpowder ―successively and simultaneously― on the structure of rods. The image, urgent ember, opens up glowing flowers and stampedes.
Accordingly, anyone receiving the force of the image becomes a fleeting co-creator of the work.
Consequently, a work of art is a virtual explosion.
THE REALITY OF THE IMAGE. The fishermen carries his creature. The symbol is a cardboard figure. The faithful one nails food to his door. Flesh, now dry, is the symbol.
The man invents the symbol. The symbol makes the man.
THE THREADS. All that remains unexpressed must be the value of woman. Or that which is partially expressed, i.e., bestiary. Because in the womb ―lunar, secret and humid―, the mute threads that will form the cloth are gestated.
I perceive order in Flor’s voice: in the light and shadow, in the boxes and compositions, in the observation and openness to surprise.
It is just a rumor, a murmur, like the original primeval whisper with which the myth explains the essence of each thing. There is a hidden order in the still voice that makes the hinges of light turn, transcends every frame, acknowledges equilibrium, wonder and the primeval totality of Cipactli.
It is a woman's voice.
REALITIES. Hold your reality by its wingtips. However, the still, unmoving wings, raised as though in flight, can nonetheless form your headdress.
Your reality has a dual nature.
You are, you assume.
PORTRAITS OF NAHUALS. The image does not transcend the hard skin; however, when it detains the reality of the world for an instant, the meticulous observer is able to see from whence the spark of all that is hidden leaps forth.
IT IS HIS IMAGE. He carries the reality of being himself and someone else on his shoulder.
MY “X”. I hand over my old man's voice loaded with references. My wonder goes with it. The work speaks of faith. The creed means nothing to me. If reason forbids my access to the gods, then the wonder of art dissolves the locks. What does it matter if I don't believe in the gods if art allows me to love them for a brief moment?