Tina en la Azotea

Ivette Hernández — Photograph — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward
Tina Modotti — Edward Weston

There is some comfort here with me in placing this essay in Medium. I usually place my blogs into my personal Blogger blog and then import it here with some variation with the neat Medium import tool. But of late I have decided to post some of my nudes. I have resorted (when I link my blog into Facebook) to not show the photograph or if I do I use Photoshop to eliminate those bits and pieces that annoy the folks of that particular social media. Here is an example of a modified set of photographs that would not offend:

Those images I placed thusly also in Medium here.

In a recent past when I used to exhibit in galleries here in Vancouver I never had to worry about censorship. But now the only place I can show my work is in social media. I dislike the idea of opening an account with Pinterest, Instagram or other places. I content myself to shoot, file and show my friends hard copy. But perhaps Medium can be a viable place for this.

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My on line dictionary of the Spanish language RAE (Real Academia Española) defines an azotea:


Del ár. hisp. *assuṭáyḥa, dim. de sáṭḥ, y este del ár. clás. saṭḥ ‘terraza’.

1. f. Cubierta más o menos llana de un edificio, dispuesta para distintos fines.

In my native Argentine the roof of a building is simply a techo. In Mexico they opt for that lovely word azotea that comes from the Arabic.

It was around 2001that I discovered (I can be slow) that in order to feel nostalgia you have to be in a place far from that which you have nostalgia for. So in that year my Argentine artists friends Juan Manuel Sánchez and his wife Nora Patrich embarked on a project we called Argentine Nostalgia. With photography, drawing, painting and working with a lovely Argentine woman, Linda Lorenzo we went back to our rosy memories of our former country and city of Buenos Aires.

Tina Modotti — Eward Weston

I also lived in Mexico and in Mexico City for many years. In the early 60s I was living with my mother and grandmother on Avenida Tamaulipas. I did not know then (alas!) that I was two blocks from Calle Yucatán where Edward Weston and his lover, model then but photographer later, Tina Modotti lived on and off from 1923 to 1927.

Edward Weston’s Azotea Revisited

To anybody who has lived in Mexico City the image of an azotea is that of a large asbestos/cement water tank up on it and with clothes lines. It was up on the roof of that house that Weston took his many nudes of Tina Modotti.

Ivette Hernández — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

It was around 2010 that I met in Vancouver Ivette Hernández a woman from León Mexico. We decided to collaborate on a our nostalgia for Mexico. She posed as Nicté-Ha, la Santa Muerte, as Dolores del Río, María Felix, La India María,and Doña Marina.

My faves were my obsession for the idea of a hot roof in Mexico City with the smells of nearby tortillerías. I could imagine Modotti on the roof and Weston with his 4x5.

Our idea to do this was in the middle of a harsh and rainy Vancouver winter. I took some photographs in my studio. I was a bit put off by the tile floor but learned to like the look. Then we went up to the roof to take pictures that would show the surroundings and of a city far from Mexico City.

I look at these photographs and I want to hop on a plane and go to Avenida Tamaulipas. But I know that you cannot return. Weston and Moddotti are long gone as are my mother and grandmother.

For the nostalgia to be rich in my mind I must stay put and travel right here in my now coolish but sunny Vancouver.

Robson & Granville, Vancouver BC

Link to: Tina en la Azotea

Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.




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Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at:http://t.co/yf6BbOIQ alexwh@telus.net

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