What do you miss when you’re in the middle of wilderness? What are the elements that bring you back to the city?
I think that I’m actually looking for the same component that arises awe as when contemplating a view from a peak.
In Mexico City it can be one of Diego Rivera’s murals, world’s windows in which ideals and values are depicted impeccably. “Man, the controller of the universe” is together a painted book of history, the twentieth century on a wall and it even contains elements of science, biology and anthropology. When I saw it in the Palacio De Bellas Artes, its dimension, its details, its story completely captivated me. I looked at Lenin’s face and thought about the many times it had been depicted. First here in Mexico, probably on a draft, later in the Rockefeller’s centre causing a horror reaction in the family. As a result it was destroyed into pieces and Rivera re-painted it in Bellas Artes where it finally was left alone. I looked how El Maestro chose to represent women in the capitalism section, playing cards with a drink. In the socialist part the female characters take part to the debate and practice sport. I stared and contemplated.
When the night comes in the middle of nature and also the other creatures go to sleep, I happen to miss the assemblage of musical notes performed on a stage. Like the music of Yann Tiersen that stimulates goosebumps in every cell of the body. When, a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see him live I remembered how important it’s to go to concerts, how important it’s to see and live those soundtracks that accompany our days. The song played on stage, free of discographical adjustments, is pure flow of sound and that particular melody is unrepeatable. It’s beautiful to share it with the multitude of people around you. Almost every musician passes from Mexico City, I’m here to listen.
It’s thanks to the time that I spend in a minute village in the middle of nowhere that I now appreciate this much the aspects of the city life. Simply going to the cinema is exciting for me. Here, I spoil myself and pedal to the nearby national cinematheque around three (sometimes four) times per week. Apart from the pleasure of seeing a film, the place is immersed in a special atmosphere. A modern building with ten movie theaters surrounded by objects, images and music that have in common a passion for cinema. When I arrived there was an international festival and at the moment there’s a tribute to M. Antonioni. I see films that teach me history and customs about Mexico and others that bring me back home. I must confess that they also sell the best sweet popcorns.
During my months on retreat I also missed just walking around a city with its unmistakable Latin rhythm, dictated by the music in every corner and by the voices of women and men selling the unsellable. A rhythm that enters the body and makes it dance at the same beat. Mexico City, in particular, has a very colorful facade. The dyes of houses, food sauces, clothes and decorations range from yellow to red, passing from blue and green. I first noticed the colorful character of the city when I had just arrived and the altars built for the celebration of the dead spread in every neighborhood. They’re mainly built with flower petals, grains of corn, sand, beans and tissue paper. A joyful offering to the deceased relatives, friends and artists. They’re mainly remembered with scenes of their daily lives, favorite food and vices. It’s pretty usual to see paper skeletons, sitting at a table with a bottle of Mezcal in front of them, some cigarettes and a couple of tortillas.
I had forgot the power that exert those huge, historic buildings. Like the revolution monument here in Mexico City. It starts to be visible when it’s still small, a white arch in the horizon. Suddenly you’re under it and the weight of its meaning hangs over you. The perspective changes again, you’re on it, enjoying the view its architecture decided to offer. The Government Palace should have been built where this monument rises today. Fortunately the sight over the city until the bordering volcanos was granted to everyone and not only to presidential eyes.
So I guess that what I miss mostly when I’m confined among mountains is culture in all its forms. Whether it’s a painting, a concert, a lecture, architecture or someone reading poems. Mexico City has a lot of it, the most I’ve ever seen gathered in the same place.