Photography

Roma incontra Il Messico. Uno speciale contributo per celebrare i centocinquanta anni di indipendenza del territorio centroamericano e un’ indagine sul ruolo dell’arte nel paese

L’arte messicana arriva a Roma, incrociando presente e passato, combinando le produzioni artigianali di civiltà antichissime, con le immagini fotografiche della rivoluzione dei primi decenni del 1900 e ancora con le creazioni contemporanee di Carlos Amorales. Un’esperienza a trecentosessanta gradi che sa stimolare la mente andando alla ricerca di punti di contatto nell’evoluzione della cultura e del pensiero messicano.

Meeting Charis

Charis, photo Edward Weston. Edward Weston Archive. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.

I met Charis Wilson last summer at her friend Don’s house in Northern California. Charis, 94, wore black pants and a purple sweater and sat sprightly in a wheelchair. Her short hair was straight, smart, and delicate. She wore a purple headband and two bright blue hair combs. I immediately recognized her luminous face from Edward Weston’s photographs, taken over 70 years ago.

Eloquent Nude, a film: Edward Weston & Charis Wilson

Charis, photo Edward Weston. Edward Weston Archive. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.

When I was still quite young, my father gave me, along with the use of his old Leica, a copy of an illustrated history of photography. I was fascinated by the book, but above all by the chapter on Weston and the famous photograph of Charis lying on the sand dune, the simplest of them. I thought it the best photograph in the book and returned to it over and over again. I don’t remember the year exactly, but I was probably of an age when no hint of sex would have gone unnoticed. I remember distinctly that I saw no such associations in the image. It struck me as essentially chaste—an example of the formalism which I thought was the essence of great photography. I was inspired in this view, of course, by that very image, as well as the peppers, which seemed to me to be more overtly sensual than the nudes. It was only later that I learned that the subject was Weston’s wife, and still later that I learned something about what their relationship was like. I still think that the photograph is severe and formalistic to the point of the visionary. Weston’s work was one thing and his life another.