My Tía Sarita had asked one of her servants at the SantaTeresita estancia (an Argentine ranch) to put a large watermelon in a net and to lower it into the cold waters of the well. The estancia was near Goya the capital city of the Argentine province of Corrientes. The heat was tropical and I was having my siesta in bed covered by mosquito netting. Sometime in the middle of the siesta I heard Tía Sarita and my mother Filomena chatting outside my window. Tía Sarita said, “Nena the boys (the other boy was her son, my first cousin Jorge Wenceslao) are growing up and they will be soon men (we were 9 or 10).I think that next year we should bed them with an india.”
I did not return to Goya the next year and I never did ask Jorge Wenceslao (Wency) what his initiation into manhood was like.
So it was in 1999 that with my Argentine painter friends Nora Patrich and her husband Juan Manuel Sánchez we embarked on a project to display on canvas and on photographic paper our mutual nostalgia for the country of our birth. We were amply helped by one terrific Argentine woman called Linda Lorenzo. We worked with her for a year. My Lorenzo file are thick with more that the normal allotment of very good pictures. She was that good. We had fun drinking mate after our sessions. During them we played Piazzolla or classic tango music in my studio and in Nora’s house. We were steeped into a feeling of deep nostalgia for a place we all missed.
Many of our joint images involved our love for the labyrinth, mirror and knife poems and stories of Jorge Luís Borges. We also shared personal stories. In my case one that I found very satisfying was the session that I called “Una Siesta en Goya”.
The idea came to mind when Nora, Juan and I (and my wife Rosemary, too) went to see (twice) the Carlos Saura film Goya in Bordeaux. Juan and I thought we could do a double nostalgia all in one. We would put Linda on my studio psychiatric couch, hang some mosquito netting and illustrate a romantic view of my own siesta in Goya. But the photograph (one I cannot place here as it is a full frontal one) would also be a homage to Goya’s La Maja Desnuda. We purposely painted and photographed Linda clothed (also!) to parallel Goya’s La Maja Vestida.
For these photographs I used the very fast Kodak 3200 ISO film which was very grainy. It was the only film I could use with my Japanese swivel-lens panoramic camera, the Widelux. The camera as it does is sweep could not incorporate a fast studio flash so the existing light (dim for this kind of camera) had to be enhanced with fast film. Now if I were to take these pictures again my Fuji X-E1 would take a much sharper and detailed panoramic. But the magic would not be there as it would be impossible to bring back Nora, Juan and Linda. My studio was torn down and a modern building has replace what was then called the Farmer Building.
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.