Maguey

Pablo López Luz 

The maguey, a significant symbol of identity, a historical witness that patiently observes the passage of time; a monumental succulent that intoxicates, heals, nourishes, and also protects. Not too long ago, agave walls and thatched roofs sheltered the homes of the Mexican countryside, that countryside forever forgotten and forgotten again, trapped amidst dust and dry land. Now, the walls and roofs of houses are made of concrete, blocks, and steel rods, pursuing the ideals of promised progress. The maguey is also a sign and an aesthetic model, for Sergei Eisenstein in his Viva México film, in the photographs of Manuel Álvarez Bravo, another witness to time, for Agustín Jiménez, Tina Modotti, and so on, the list is extensive.

Over time, the maguey has also left the Mexican countryside, it has moved to the city (or the city has encroached upon it), and now it lives among bridges, avenues, parks, and medians, amid cars, trucks, trash, wrappers, and cans. It also serves as a coat rack and clothesline. For passersby, there is always the temptation to leave a mark on one of its leaves, some inscribe messages of love or heartbreak, confessions, or simply to fulfill an aesthetic inspiration. There are also advertisements, direct messages, and threats. The maguey is now not only a symbol of the Mexican countryside but also of the big city. It now shares the dust kicked up by trucks, the exhaust fumes, and the noise of honking horns with the palms, trees, and shrubs that adorn the city streets, and it waits, alongside the others, for the perennially delayed rains.

Photographing the maguey carries a high risk, it implies immersing oneself in a long tradition and rubbing shoulders (or attempting to) with all those who have already been there. Pablo López Luz’s exhibition Maguey, in dialogue with some of his other projects, reinterprets and embraces the great symbol of identity at a time when symbols and identity seem to have been forgotten.