come to raise

Por Emiliano Monge


Translated by Sophie Hughes


We didn’t expect, although we might have guessed, that this one too had stopped. To date, I’d counted one hundred and thirteen. One hundred and fifteen according to Laura, who’d overheard somebody say: The one on the white tower’s working.


Now we have to go back. Or rather, we have to carry on, but in the opposite direction. The words go and go back lost their meaning a long time ago. Or they stopped mattering. Because almost all words have lost their meaning, despite us clinging to them.

The last few blocks, which will now be the first ones, won’t be so tricky.  When all’s said and done, the trenches are one of the few privileges left to us. Who would have thought it? The job half done our sole protection.


But the trenches, like everything else, stop suddenly. Or they start. And Laura and I are forced to emerge from their depths, slip past a group of worn-out men and women, and scale and descend several mounds of earth, while our shadows, the marks we leave, fade away.

Between the pipes! I tell Laura when we reach the corner, hop over a statueless plinth, slide past the rusty ribcage of a car and reach the sidewalk on the other side of the street: Get down lower! Stay between the pipes!


I don’t know how long it’s been since a man and woman walked along upright. Those of us who still get around do so as Laura and I are now. Beyond keeping us hidden, crawling also gets us back into the habit of using our hands. These days, gripping is less important than pushing on.

Via the paths or through the building? Laura asks, stopping in her tracks. The pipes concealing us are also about to come to an end: there, a few meters up ahead. I’m not sure why she asks me and I tell her as much: Why do you even ask? Smiling at me, Laura doesn’t say another word and scurries toward the entrance of the works, out of the top of which the night appears to be being born.

A few meters before reaching that titanic concrete block, Laura and I have to navigate some cracks in the ground and creep past another exhausted family. They are soaking up the last of the evening’s rays, to all appearances oblivious to one another.

That’s how it all began. Or that was the beginning of the end: a man left his office, paused in the middle of the street, surrendered every single muscle in his body and muttered: I’m done.


I catch up with Laura who is already in the middle of the building. Interiors, we used to call them, so many years ago I don’t know what amounts to more: the so many or the years. Just the way you like them, she says to me, smiling again. She’s right. We cross the immense hall: a cold, empty space; a space that could have been anything.

It doesn’t aspire to be a ruin, I say to Laura, repeating what I’ve said countless times before, and this time it’s me who smiles. But we have to get a move on, I add, moving faster across the bare concrete: We can’t stay here; it’s getting late. And we left our things there. Clenching her jaw and also speeding up the pace of her steps, Laura corrects me: Our thing.


When at last we spot the exit to the colossus, we can barely see a thing. A plastic tarpaulin that the wind flaps about at whim veils the street. The sun sweeps the hills surrounding the last city, stealing the shadows from things.

On the steps leading us from the works out onto the street, we stop dead in our tracks again. Then we hesitate, looking in turn at the cardinal points, bar the one we’ve just come from. Of course, I say to Laura a second later, when our eyes settle on the brink of the bridges.

A couple of meters before the asphalt arches its back, we creep past some bushes, another crowd of worn out folk, and the remains of a defeated. There is suspicion etched across Laura’s face. We haven’t come across one for months; we haven’t found any defeateds for months.

Don’t dwell on it, I beg her: just keep running.


It is I, however, who can’t shake my misgivings as we’re swept along in our haste. Was he prey, or might he have been an offender too?

That’s what they called the men whose exhaustion went one step further: offenders; the worn out men who instead of picking themselves up, dried out. Like heaps of salt. The done-fors who instead of preserving themselves, rusted: like the cogs in a tool. The ones who, albeit unwittingly, stopped the clocks.

Maybe it was the first, I hear slip from my own lips in a whisper, and the words are like the breaks that stop Laura in her tracks: Why are you thinking about that again? She’s right: why am I thinking about it? Why always like this? Why do I want to believe that it was the explosion that made them stop? Why can’t I believe what they told us?

You know full well it was the ball, Laura mutters, coming toward me, trying to hug me. She knows me and she knows which thoughts hurt me. The enormous ball that came down stopped the clocks, she insists, trying to appease me. Just like she insists on wrapping me in her arms: they’re no longer good for that.


A moment later, Laura releases me from her embrace, pulls away, and smiles. You’ll see. We’ll find one that’s still working, she reassures me, as if I were her responsibility and not the other way around. As if it weren’t I who was responsible for making sure the fire in her chest doesn’t go out.

I’m sure of it, I tell my daughter, pulling myself together. And wiping my eyelids, I point into the distance. We’ve reached the bridges’ peak. Despite the dim dusk light, we can make out the plants devouring and devastating man’s old constructions: seeing them reclaim what was theirs to begin with returns the smiles to both our faces.

Wanting to strengthen the bond this landscape forms between us, before setting off again, Laura and I turn around to look at that other horizon. Safety is your duty, I tell my daughter, describing what those things, which long ago were letters, say: there on the factory tower emerging from the shadows: at the end of a vacant lot that you could cross in two or two hundred steps.

Don’t read them! Laura shouts. It’s always the same with you, she adds, getting mad all of a sudden. She turns on the spot and makes off: I’ve told you, I don’t want you to read them!


Twenty meters before leaving the bridges behind, and whipped by the wind, I hear the voice of my little one again: One hundred and sixteen, Laura says, and without stopping in her stride, she picks up an old wrist watch from the concrete ground.

One hundred and fourteen, I argue, clinging, for a moment, to my own tally. And smiling at me once again, Laura causally tosses the now useless piece of plastic to one side: We’re not sure, Daddy. In addition to the night, several clouds have settled upon us: I can’t see them but somehow I intuit them: can it be I smell them?

Neither of us can be sure, my daughter repeats, speeding up. And her words become an omen, distorting the only two faces that she and I have touched, that she and I have admired. We can’t be sure, I repeat in a whisper, and the omen comes to pass: that noise they make can be heard now. It’s them: the ones who live behind the huge white bars.

Every night they come out looking for us. They want our thing. They know it’s the only one left. They know we have it. They want to take it back to their see-through caves. But they don’t know where we hide it. We have to get back to the hideout. We must hurry, I tell Laura, and our stroll has now become a getaway.

            Toward the mouth! I instruct her soon after, when we finally leave the enormous ridge, which starts over there, where the bridges disappear, and ends here, where the strange arch of light that never goes out rises like a temple of emptiness.

Despite my order—Toward the mouth!—Laura turns down the small alleyway which leads, at the other extreme, down into the earth: it’s another path into the old city; one that’s closer from here, but isn’t the path she and I normally use; the path she and I know best. And behind us, the noise of the ones who live locked behind those translucent membranes can be heard getting louder and louder.

Turn right, I say, annoyed: That one takes us there! And Laura heeds me. We really must get back to our cave as soon as possible, I think, and in doing so, as ever, I am grateful for having come across our hideout that day. There is my daughter, safe. So long as our thing is there, it’s out of their reach: by keeping out of sight, I can protect them both.

Thank you for leading us to the cave, I mumble to myself, switching on my flashlight and conjuring—when I see the halo, or the thick black tide that enshrouds it—the image I give, in my insomnia, to what one day were known as gods: Thank you for leading me to it, I repeat when my daughter changes direction toward the tunnel lit by my flashlight.

For showing us what it was we were looking for, I go on before raising one arm from the earth and patting the pocket where I keep the small prediction they gave me: Welcome to paradise, I read in the image we spotted one afternoon and which, truth be told, later, when we finally reached it, turned into this other thing: Come to raise, reads the sign above the entrance to the cave, our hideout. It was missing some letters. It’s still quite some distance away.


Quit it with all your thank yous, Laura snaps, reading my mind again: quit it with that nonsense and hurry up, she goes on before turning down yet another tunnel.

They’re getting closer, my daughter calls out when we enter one of the central channels. Only then do I notice the sound again. It’s true, I’ve never heard them so close: I feel vibrations down my back and at the base of my neck. The skin on my back is whispering to me. They are less than a hundred meters away.

They’ll find our hideout, my daughter says, and in spite of her fear she stops, turns off her flashlight and presses her back into the wall: They’ll take our things, she says, grabbing my flashlight and switching that off too. Our thing, I correct her, at the same time letting the wall enfold me.

Don’t make a sound, I tell Laura, without actually speaking, just moving my lips: Our only hope is that they get lost. The sound they make is getting louder. Too loud: they’re right above us.


Petrified, trying to turn to stone ourselves, Laura and I wait there for a long time. But we can’t stay like this forever. Staying still is tantamount to giving up: letting the tiredness take over, giving up or giving in, letting time slip away.

Not only do we fear those beings, we also fear becoming the other kind; the ones not even they care about. My daughter wouldn’t know how to mummify herself; she would become too aware of the self-exploitation. Maybe that’s why I straighten up, slowly. The sound is coming from a little further away: Now, I say, and I’m off again.


When at last the noise has disappeared, I turn my head back. I want to smile at my little one. My eyes, however, can’t find her. Laura isn’t behind me. I freeze on the spot, shaken, then turn my whole body around and go back on myself: faster and faster.

Laura! I repeat: Laura! Laura!

            I find my daughter, unmoving, sobbing, in the place where just now we’d merged into the stone: Get up, I tell her, bending down further and putting my lips near to her ear: We can’t do this. You know that.

But despite my words, Laura doesn’t react: she doesn’t move. Or she only trembles. I shake her: first gently, then violently. She moves her head. No, just her lips: I don’t want to anymore. In my head I go through the things I want to say to her; mentally retrace our story. I remember every sentence spoken; I summon up each day lived.

In the end I don’t say a word.


Having waited alongside my daughter for some time, I try again: Now you can do it, I say, wiping her eyes with my hand; the hand that can still do this: We have to get back to our cave.

It’s not easy picking up Laura: I can feel the rust in my bones, the impotence of my fingers that haven’t held another’s for a long time. My back doesn’t stretch upright enough to pull her.

In the end, I use my head: scooping her up with my neck.


Getting out of the first tunnel is a real feat. But Laura gradually becomes herself again. And then, convinced it’s the right moment, I put my lips to her ear: Imagine if they got our thing.

I see something burn in my daughter’s eyes again. And although she continues to lean on me as we make our way through the next tunnels, when we enter the enormous gallery where the widest ones converge, Laura at last can make her own way.

And soon we’re running again, looking from left to right every now and then; even speaking to one another in whispers. I tell her suddenly to take a turn. She is driven now by the fear inhabiting her: They can’t have found it.

That’s how we cover the last meters: out of control: Laura getting increasingly frantic, and I more radiant with every step.  And that’s how we reach the cave: come to raise.


The moment we’re inside, I dash to the corner, almost leap onto the ground, push aside the stone that’s hiding our thing, and take it in my hands. I have to give my little one back the strength, the power that our exhaustion threatens to take from us.

Sitting on the ground facing one another, I arrange the flashlights and carefully, delicately, unwrap our thing: it shines in the palms of my hands.

You turn it, go on, I tell Laura. And my daughter, visibly moved, raises her hands, holds them out toward mine and turns the time. You can barely hear the flow of sand.










Monica King Contemporary

39 Lispenard Street, East Entrance
New York, NY 10013, USA
T: +1 516 888 1990


Patricia Conde

Gral. Juan Cano 68
San Miguel Chapultepec I Secc.
Mexico City, 11850, Mexico
T: +52 (55) 5290 6345


Heart Ego

Lázaro Garza Ayala 511, Casco Urbano, 66230
San Pedro Garza García, N.L., Mexico
T: +52 (81) 8448 9408

Oswaldo Ruiz was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, in 1977. An early interest in space led him to study architecture at the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL), a profession that he quickly abandoned in order to focus on photography. Interested in broadening his understanding of the image, he completed graduate studies in psychoanalysis, philosophy and art history at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). Later, in order to advance his explorations of visual media, he enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program at Central Saint Martins College in London. From 2015 and 2018 he was the studio assistant of the Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide.

Using the darkness of night as material for his photographic work, between 2004 and 2012 he took pictures of different places along the highways around Monterrey: gas stations, convenience stores, bus stops and strange, illuminated buildings. This led him to photograph the demolished houses in the municipality of Anáhuac, a border area where his family was originally from and that had since been abandoned because of migration to the U.S. after NAFTA. Along these same lines, and as a result of artistic residencies in Dublin, Berlin and Santiago de Chile, he developed different projects with which, in a sort of archeology of the everyday, he explored the dualities of light and darkness, consciousness and the unconscious, life and death, in his series of medieval towers, ephemeral constructions and anti-monuments. The last of these series, about quiotes (the flower produced by the agave plant before it dies), was shot in the state of Oaxaca. One of his last projects Welcome to Paradise (2013-2017), shown in Centro de la Imagen in 2017 and Fototeca de Nuevo León in 2018, he portrays different enclaves of Latin American cities to deconstruct the idea of the city and extract images of some archetypes that inhabit it, where a dialogue between ruins and science fiction spaces is created. For this project he photographed from the port of Valparaíso in Chile to the Dry port of Jalisco, across Mexico City, Monterrey, the zone of The plain in flames of Rulfo, Barra de Navidad, Colombia and Dominican Republic.

He has had over a dozen solo exhibitions, including: Nostalgia de catástrofes (Patricia Conde gallery, 2018), Welcome to Paradise (Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City 2017 and Fototeca de Nuevo León 2018); Espacio que cabe entre dos tiempos (Galería Heart Ego, Monterrey, 2016); Anudamientos (Museo de la Ciudad de México, Mexico City, 2013); Frecuencia natural (Galería Luis Adelantado, Mexico City, 2011); Oswaldo Ruiz 2002-2009 (Fototeca Nuevo León, Monterrey, 2010) and Last Night (Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2010).

He has also participated in over fifty group shows, including: Constitución mexicana 1917- 2017. Imágenes y voces (Galería del Palacio Nacional, Mexico City, 2017); Tlaxotlali: Alternancia de ciclos (Casa del Lago, UNAM, Mexico City, 2017); the XII FEMSA Biennial / Poéticas del decrecimiento, ¿cómo vivir mejor con menos? (Centro de las Artes, Parque Fundidora, Monterrey, 2016); Develar y detonar. Fotografía en México ca. 2015 (Centro Cibeles, Madrid and Centro Nacional de las Artes, Mexico City, 2015); Existe todo lo que tiene nombre (Camera Works, San Francisco, California, 2015); Dirty, Poorly Dressed and Filled with Love (Erehwon Center for the Arts, Quezon City, Philippines, 2013); El vértigo de la abundancia (Casa del Lago, unam, Mexico City, 2013); Basado en una historia verdadera (Museo Salvador Allende, Santiago de Chile, 2012); Umbrales (Instituto de México en París, Paris, 2010); Registro 02. Mirar por segunda vez (Museo marco, Monterrey, 2009) and the XIII Bienal de Fotografía (Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City, 2009).

His work has received awards both nationally and internationally, including the Acquisition prize of the XVIII Photography Biennial of Centro de al Imagen (2018), SIVAM prize (2006), the Petrobras-Buenos Aires Photo Prize (2006), and the Acquisition Prize at the 2nd Bienal de Artes Visuales de Yucatán (2004). Recently he published the book Welcome to Paradise (La Caja de Cerillos Ediciones and Fundación BBVA Bancomer, Mexico City, 2017). His work has also been published in many books, magazines and catalogues, and shown at the international fairs Madrid Foto (2011 and 2012) and Paris Photo (2006 and 2007). Since 2018 he is a Member of the National System of Art Creator, of FONCA.


Master in Fine Arts, Central Saint Martins College, London, UK.


Postgraduate courses in Contemporary Art and Psychoanalysis. Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain.


Architecture, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Mexico.


Acquisition prize in the XVIII Photography Biennial at Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City, Mexico.

Member of the National System of Art Creators, FONCA, Mexico.


FORCA Northeast grant to do a residency in Santiago de Chile.


Special Mention on the XIII Photo Biennial, Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City, Mexico.


First Prize SIVAM, by the International Society of Values of Mexican Art, Mexico City, Mexico.

Second Prize Petrobras-Buenos Aires Photo 2006.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.


Special Mention on the VII Monterrey Biennial FEMSA, Monterrey, Mexico.


Acquisition Prize in the II National Biennial of Visual Arts of Yucatán, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.


First Prize in the XXIV Reseña de la Plástica Nuevoleonesa, Monterrey, Mexico.


Museo de Arte de Sonora (MUSAS), Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.


Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City, Mexico.


The Museum of Contemporary Art of Monterrey (MARCO).

Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami, USA.

Fototeca de Nuevo Léon, Monterrey, Mexico.


Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, UK.


FEMSA Collection, Monterrey, Mexico.