Let me tell you about a strange and serendipitous encounter a couple of days ago. I had wandered over to the Palacio de Bellas Artes to see a show of photographs by the world famous street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, master of the “decisive moment”.
Once inside, I was somewhat disappointed to find only a slide show of his his work, showing his travels during his lifetime, and some digital pedestals with information all in Spanish. Oh, well, there was an interesting photographer taking pictures of the crowd, so I started photographing him at work.
The crowd began moving through an open door. A sriking woman in black passed by me and I grabbed a shot, but too late, her head was turned away. So I followed her inside, thinking maybe there was to be a lecture or other presentation related to the Cartier-Bresson exhibition.
I followed her to her seat in the front row, passed her by and sat down with one seat between us, firing away the whole time.
CONSTANZA CASANOVA POET
She caught me. I smiled. She smiled. We introduced ourselves. She told me she is a poet from Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico, and that she was there to give a poetry reading. She asked me to photograph her while on stage. I agreed, and she handed me her camera.
I stayed and listened to five rounds of five women poets and three finalists, three hours' worth, of women poets from all over Mexico. I believe others were from Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and possibly other countries, reading their poems. In Spanish! I only caught a hand full of words, but my iPhone and my Lumix camera were firing the whole time.
When I finally staggered out of the auditorium, at 5:30, I saw , off to my left, what turned out to be the entrance to the main part of the Cartier-Bresson exhibition. In I went. I was stunned to see, first of all, very credible paintings from his youth, then an album containing his very first photographs as a teenager. Then a few familiar and a few unfamiliar images.
I was especially taken by a short film, showing him walking along a crowded street, while taking thirty four photographs in just 39 seconds.
Just as I was becoming really engrossed in the unfolding of this extraordinary life, a guard informed me that the museum was closing. It was on my way out, as I wound my way through room, after room, after room, that I realized I had to return. I asked the guard at the exit how many pieces were on display. Three hundred. I will definitely return. Most likely tomorrow.
CONSTANZA de MARIA CASANOVA, POESÍA
Oh, and after leaving the Bellas Artes, I met two of the women from the poetry event, outside, and will be sending them photos of themselves, as well as Constanza and the photographer who sort of got me into the whole thing.
I seem to have lost the names of this poet and the photographer. I will update this information as soon as possible. Lo siento.
Next: MERCADO SAN JUAN, Mexico City's Historic Gourmet Market