Escondido, 2005, from the Mazahuacholoskatopunk series. Photo by: Federico Gama
Down & Delirious in Mexico City: The Aztec Metropolis in the Twenty-First Century
Published date: February 8, 2011
By guest contributor Susy Chavez of mexiroccan.blogspot.com
There is a legend that runs through artist circles in Mexico about the surrealist French photographer Henri Cartier-Bressonâ€™s first visit to that country. They say Cartier-Bresson was so moved and overwhelmed with visual stimulation that he declared all one had to do to find a surrealist image while in Mexico was to point oneâ€™s camera and simply shoot. Apparently, Cartier-Bresson found the surrealist promised land in le Mexique.
I often times find myself imagining Mr. Cartier-Bresson wondering the streets of Mexico camera and western sensibilities in hand, like some sort of belated colonialist explorer encountering the totem-like mishmash of the ancient, colonial and the modern that makes up Mexico. My own voyeuristic fascination with Mexico, like all the best voyeuristic endeavors in life, is deeply personal. I am, to put it mildly, passionately in love with its fluid pump-up-the-color-volume folklorico-piÃ±ata-dance chaos. Fortunately, this love abounds and Daniel Hernandezâ€™s new book, a quasi telenovela meets Boogie Nights love letter to the 20 plus million metropolis that is Mexico City, is a worthwhile testament.
To take Hernandezâ€™s book as simply a non-fiction travel book or as the cool kids are calling it these days, creative non-fiction travel book, would be a mistake. Hernandezâ€™s book is fascinating precisely because he is NOT: 1) trying to find himself by teaching English in another country 2) throwing himself into hard labor in a remote indigenous village 3) has no philanthropic endeavors 4) and NO broken heart he needs to mend through ancient indigenous practices. Hernandez is on a mission to find himself, a San Diego native, Angeleno transplant via Tijuana, Mexico whose parents warn him early on that in el DF, heâ€™ll get his socks stolen while heâ€™s got his shoes on. Instead of making him run up towards Canada, Hernandez, a self-described â€œdark-skinnedâ€ pocho mexi-gringo, decides to move to el monstruo. It is in el monstruo that Hernandez leads us through a series of hoyos funkys, underground tunnels that weave through the city coming up momentarily from time to time for brief snap-shots of a series of urban subcultures that include but are not limited to fashionista fairies, nezayorkinos, banda, grafiteros, emos and fresas.