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I'M FINE, AND YOU? A Photographic Chronicles in Quarentine

Here I am, in a mandatory confinement, like everyone else. I live in Asturias, Spain, and am only allowed to go out to buy food. My conscience forces me to be very strict so I have only gone out a couple of times in 19 days. I have no idea how people fill their days. I guess that an important part of the day is taken up with chores related to the home, especially my obsessive/compulsive neighbors who are constantly shaking their cleaning cloths out of the window to shake out the last bit of dust. Impossible to ignore them. The view from my windows where I live here in Spain is a tight mass of buildings, and I get to see the back, so I get to “admire” my neighbor’s undies hanging out of the window rather than the balconies full of flowers that you usually see in postcards sent from Sevilla, nor is it anything like the spectacular view that for so many years I enjoyed from my home windows in my beloved Caracas. But let’s not go there, I have nothing to complain about. My concern at this point, in the midst of a pandemic, is not the rooftop across from my window but rather what sits so heavily on my shoulders: my head.

Being a photographer is a whole different lifestyle, especially when the camera is in my hands. Let’s look at this scenario: I cannot remain still, my mind races in the fast lane, my sense of the ridiculous has always been minimal, so it allows me to take unabashed pictures of myself without embarrassment because I’m my only model. If you add a very basic and constant sense of humor, you get the full and complete picture. My teenage daughter, who I share my confinement with, is amazed at the ever more absurd stagings I produce and rolls her eyes, wishing she had had a more normal mom, maybe one that would be working in a government office sealing passports. No such luck, and so she feels embarrassed, especially with my nudes, even if they are modest. Nothing I can do for her.

After the first few days--in which I spent my time cleaning the bathroom until it was impeccable, reading whatever book I had picked, sunbathing with all the precautions, trying to paint with watercolors, watching movies from my new sofa (popcorn included), cooking like the obnoxious Gordon Ramsay and eating as though it were The Last Supper (zero exercise), I decided to put the broom and the sunblock away and work on a photographic chronicle of my activities and reflections during this confinement because it is obvious that photography is what makes me tick...the hell with watercolors!

The view from my window has been especially important in my life. Throughout my life, one of my big pleasures has always been sipping my first morning coffee sitting by the window (in the absence of a balcony), wherever I happened to be, this morning ritual is essential. No wonder that now, when time is no longer of the essence, I decided that my window had to be the key player in this photographic series. The window, a graceless Ikea bench, my messy image and, the most important part: the first thing that goes through my mind, what concerns me, what I feel and think while I go through an exorcism of this confinement that tests all my patience and sanity.

For several consecutive days I allowed myself to be lead by my fluctuating state of mind and, for some reason that I cannot explain with clarity, each morning my head received an image that could only work with my immediate resources and the camera that I had parked in only one position that blocked the door to my room for several days. Light and the time of day mandated the moment of its execution so that each picture had its own personality. Even as I started the series without thinking of going so digital, I must confess that photoshop kept twisting my sense of purity. In a situation as surreal as the one we are living in, nothing better than to give in to imagination, that’s what Adobe is for. Why Caracas, Magritte, Van Gogh, or the feeling of oppression, insanity, death and resurrection, in that order? I don’t know. Truth be told, looking through my window has always been an exercise in the observation of myself because, while contemplating and despite the efforts it entailed, my restless thoughts, have always sabotaged any attempt at meditation.

May all this madness serve to share the laughter that the craziness of creating these images brought out, coming and going a thousand times and clicking the camera at the pose on the bench in only 10 seconds. In these times, we need a large measure of humor if we are to bear so much sadness and uncertainty.

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