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TRANSLATING GURSKY
By Jesús Mario Lozano
New York. November, 2003.

The arrow of the eye
dead on target of the instant.
Octavio Paz

 

When writing about Manuel Alvarez Bravo, in 1981, the Mexican poet Octavio Paz admired the titles of his photographs. He called them “mental triggers”, because they made appear from an explicit photographic image an implicit one, until then invisible. He was interested on the encounter between word and image, but, at the same time, on the multiple realities, double or triple, that emerged from the photographs. On his rhyming games, both, visual and verbal, among the nets of visual, mental and even tactile relations that emerged. For Paz, the poetic image occurs when being and desire pact for an instant, on the intersection of times, in the moment of its appearance/disappearance. It is interesting how Jürgen Habermas cites Octavio Paz in his Der Philosophische Diskurs der Moderne, regarding precisely this convergence point, the poetic instant of the “longing of real presence.” He does this to refer to his particular interpretation of the Dionysiac in Nietzsche. To describe the moment of ecstasy in which, for Habermas, the categories of doing and thinking collapse, and the sphere of the aesthetic experience opens up. The photographs of Oswaldo Ruiz more than taking us to The Other Shore, they let us in the middle. Nor in one shore, nor in the other, but offshore. His photographs are entr'actes. He stays with Nietzsche. His images paralyze before the poetic instant and after the photographic one. They show us the obscene cut that stops the moment of supposed ecstasy, he makes a grid of it, he erases it and recomposes it. He gets fixed in translation, on the interval; on the pause of the visual nets. Half digital, half analogue. In front of the Paz-Habermas’ narrative of the aesthetic moment, Oswaldo Ruiz, slows down and becomes a stranger. An undifferentiated kaleidoscope under the Gursky signifier that, on itself, means a way of making photography and a tradition, not that far away from making of photography an art, as Octavio Paz celebrates it in that text of 1981. The translation of Oswaldo Ruiz is a geopolitical provocation, but it is also a photographic irruption. An impossible translation of the gaze in which the interlaced body gets in between. A cut. Gursky is translated to be betrayed, from the infinite garbage dump of Mexico (2002).