Above, a portrait of Enrique Metinides, the great D.F. photojournalist, taken in October 2010 by Eunice Adorno.
Metinides, now 76, is one-of-a-kind, an OG photojournalist whose work transcends the field and enters the realm of high art. In my view, he's among the best to have ever practiced the craft, taking more photos over many more years than, say, Robert Capa, Weegee, or Dorothea Lange.
Here's my end-of-the-year post at La Plaza, my interview with Metinides, marking the latest exhibit of his work in Mexico City. "In the Place of Coincidence," curated by longtime Metinides collaborator Veronique Ricardoni, is up at Garash until the end of January. The video and photo-montages mentioned in the piece display Metinides in new formats and through new perspectives; highly recommended.
"I'm a photographer by accident," Metinides said.
Back in his day, they called him "El Niño." The Kid, a name that followed him for years. Here are a few more portraits by Adorno, who is gracefully sharing them with Intersections. (Earlier this month, Eunice won the 2010 Fernando Benitez national cultural journalism prize in photojournalism, for her work on Mennonite women in north-central Mexico. See this slideshow at BBC Mundo.)
Metinides is not an easy interview. He speaks at length about any of his photos, right from the start, in lucid reportial detail. Yet he's impatient with conversation about himself or his own ideas on his work. He tells a stirring anecdote, then remembering there's a tape recorder, cuts in with "But don't mention that" or "Don't use that."
Takes one to know one, I guess.
He tells people he's been professionally abused and exploited, first by bosses, then by the art world. When Metinides lost his job at La Prensa during a hostile takeover of the paper, he estimates thousands of negatives stayed in his old newsroom, out of his hands for good. During the 1968 conflict and urban guerrilla movements that followed, his undeveloped film was often confiscated after a day in the field, sometimes by soldiers on the street or later by editors at the office. He shares unpleasant memories from times he's permitted galleries to handle his photos.
For the 2000 book and MUCA show that launched his post-journalism career, "El teatro de los hechos," many photos that Metinides shared with the D.F. municipal government -- then under Rosario Robles of the PRD -- he says were never returned to him. Someone in the city's culture department at the time kept some of Metinides's negatives, he alleges. If the current listing price for "El teatro de los hechos" provides any clue, someone is sitting on an extremely valuable set of negatives.
Metinides is tough as ever. Check out the show at Garash if you can, and cross your fingers for the stars to align for a bigger retrospective, planned tentatively in Mexico's future.
It would be well-deserved.