Luana in the garden part I

Luana in the garden part I

It was the day of the summer solstice and it was obvious that she was hiding. But not from me. My assignment was to investigate this beautiful woman who denied her divine nature for an obscure reason. She thought she was just a beautiful model but the way the garden embraced and protected her was more than eloquent to the contrary. it wasn't my job to reveal secret stories and I didn't try to. 

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Nicoletta's magic part I

Nicoletta's magic part I

There are many magical women in Venice and they excel in magic potions or spells that could make you instantly rich or famous or internationally admired. And although many people believe in them and visit them every year to renew the effectiveness of the magic they bought, I systematically avoid them because  there is nothing about them to be photographically investigated. But there was one venetian witch that had captured my interest -and that of my employers, obviously- because she made magic dresses and corsets that could bind or liberate, depending on the wishes of the client. And she was beautiful. Of course I was the witness of pure magic in her presence, as I saw her magically changing outfits while being investigated. This was the first one... 

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Juno

Juno

"Juno, the latin version of the greek goddess Hera, rules the month of June, and being the goddess of domesticity, makes June the most auspicious month for weddings". I read that in an old datebook that was sitting on my desk. I like browsing in old datebooks (both for inspiration and perspective) and that's what I was doing. It was a Llewellyn's Witches' Datebook of 2010. I always resented writing a journal, all my thoughts and feelings seemed always funny and ridiculous when I read them later on. So, no. What I liked to do was noting "headlines" about the day (some days, anyway). Like, "Today extraterrestrial weather, dust from the desert makes Athens look like Mars" or "I love him" or "Announcement: I am the new editor in chief"... Things like that.  I "accidentally" opened it in a July page and since there was no headline in that page and it was the middle of June, I went back a little and saw the Juno entry. A very dear friend and beloved model of mine got married a few days ago and I knew she was protected and blessed. I love June. It's the month you can have a glimpse of the goddess Juno strolling around in a garden, or sitting on a bench, relaxing. Earthy and divine, at the same time. No doubt about it: "I love June" - this could be a new headline, by the way. 

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Little China girl

Little China girl

It was one day before the opening of the Venice Biennale. Only journalists were allowed, so I used one of my fake identities. Not so fake really, since a photographic investigator's job is not so different from that of a journalist's. Anyway, she also pretended to be one. You come to know those things after 2-3 decades of pretending. But she made my work very easy and I was thankful to her not only for this, but for her beautiful smile as well. She knew she was being investigated, but she allowed it. I made a mental note to look her up. A very interesting partnership could be in the horizon.

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Close encounters

Close encounters

They were coming from another dimension. It's not only I who crosses the curtain in between worlds, it's them to. A photographic investigator can cross the curtain so many times, my energy, as I have mentioned before, was diminishing. For this reason, sometimes it's better to wait for them to come to me. First I saw only one -and then the rest of them followed. It was very much like The "Close Encounters" scene, in the end on the movie. This was not a movie though. And I would not recommend it... 

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The gardener

The gardener

There was a mysterious gardener in Villa Herriot, in Venice. He appears in the mornings and talks to the few visitors of this magnificent place, but none of the residents is aware of his existence. He never appears in a company of more than 2 people and he always talks about the marvels of the garden and about other, mystical, hidden garden treasures in Venice. I saw him and I talked to him while passing through, but sadly, I didn't photograph him. When I talked to people of him, everyone looked at me like I was crazy... "Gardener? What gardener?", they said. I scheduled a photographic investigation in the Villa hoping to capture a shot of him. Of course he did not appear. My subject was beautiful and full of grace though... Her name was Ramona, and she had also seen the gardener. Maybe some gardeners can't be seen by everyone, I thought. Especially in Venice... 

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Claudia

Claudia

I don't know when Chucho Valdez wrote Claudia, but I first heard it in Paquito d'Rivera's album, 'Reunion", with Arturo Sandoval. One of my first latin jazz albums and surely one of my favourites. But then, I always had a soft spot for boleros... When a photographic investigator is in between assignments, they like to experiment connecting people and faces to songs. This one was an instant match. And it served as well as a realisation that, sometimes, the best photographic investigations happen during a break... 

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Shooting in Arcana

Shooting in Arcana

Very often in Venice, spies like to disguise as fashion models. And it's a good disguise because it allows them not to avoid photographers while hiding. One of the paradoxes of the ingenious venetian spy web that I have come to know so well in the last years. The only clue that I had about the place of this photographic investigation was a word: Arcana. At first I though that it had to do with tarot cards (and started cursing because I had forgotten my tarot deck in Athens), but then I remembered  Corto Maltese's "Corte Sconta called Arcana" in his adventure "Fable of Venice". Of course I was one of the 5 people who had the key to this secret place. There are no coincidences in the photographic investigation business. He was there, waiting. I did my job, as  I always do. 

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Fly shadow, fly!

Fly shadow, fly!

I don't know if it was an entrance or an exit. Maybe neither. There was light, so inevitably there were shadows. I remembered an arabic song called  "Fly shadow, fly". Could I be investigating -without knowing it- the ability of a shadow to fly? Well, if it could, it should do it followed by this melody. 

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The dark mirror

The dark mirror

She always had it in her purse. The dark mirror. A little mirror that would remain dark unless her partner and soul mate was around. This mirror had been dark for a long time since this man was missing -somewhere in Sierra Nevada. It was too dangerous to try to contact him, so she was letting her instinct lead her to nearby destinations in the high mountains of California. She was hiding in the shadows and secretly picking at the little mirror. My assignment was to steal it from her, but I let her suffer by it's darkness a little more. Maybe like this she wouldn't miss it so much afterwards.

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The final countdown

The final countdown

What can really be the end of a photographic investigator is not travelling in space, but travelling in time. And I've done that a lot... For some unexplained and probably mystical (or totally meaningless) reason, every time I had to travel in time I was going back to Venice. So, my energy resources were every time smaller, although my ticket was getting cheaper and cheaper. It felt like a countdown. "Al fin, que para morir nacimos" as they say in Mexico... "In the end, we are born to die". Who knows? Maybe the end of my photographic investigations would come in the middle, inside the time vortex, outside of time. I wonder if all my work would disappear with me too. It should, I think. 

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Night in Vrindavan

Night in Vrindavan

I once bought a perfume in India, called "Night in Vrindavan". It was very exotic and "indian" -only those who have been to and loved India know what I mean- and it's name stayed with me for more than 25 years... I thought it had to do with some romantic notion, but I found out, by chance, that it had to do with the local belief that every night, in the Nidhivan forest, Lord Krishna appears, performing the divine dance with his consort, Radha. A really mystical, divine act that can't be witnessed by ordinary people, as it can drive them mad.  Vrindavan is the childhood place of Lord Krishna, a holy place for the hindus. My subject was making open plans for a trip around the world and had just purchased some new clothes. Written in the label of the most beautiful blouse was the word "Vrindavan"... She told me that her first stop would be India. This subject had to be further studied, I thought to my self. To be continued... 

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High Sierra

High Sierra

Her husband was rich and determined to be a film producer. He was a film noir lover and wanted her to be the star in the remake of a classic 1941 movie, "High Sierra", starring Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart. He also  wanted to shoot the movie in an original location in the Sierra Nevada, the "snowy mountain range"... She loved those mountains. It was high and cold in High Sierra and it reminded her the time when she met the infamous "Mexican", a writer who became her closest friend. But that was all in the past... She indulged her husband because she secretly hoped that fate would bring him into her life once more. The Mexican was missing and he was always enchanted by the high, cold mountains of California. 

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The Mexican

The Mexican

He was one of the most popular Californian novel writers and he liked mexican hats. I was hired to investigate him by a publishing house who wanted to hire him for a series of romance/detective novels who would have him as a hero. Unusual, I know... It's common knowledge that in such cases it's the writer who comes up with the proposal. But nothing in my job was ever... usual. So, I had to lure him to my house in the californian desert where I kept a collection of mexican, guatemalan and honduran hats. The plan worked just fine and in the end he promised me that he would dedicate his next novel series to me and my photographic investigation adventures. A fine deal.

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Rescue remedy

Rescue remedy

I suddenly realised that I didn't have any rescue remedy with me. Not because I never thought it would be useful in my investigations, but because I had finished off the last drops a few hours ago. There was too much panic in my life lately... But the situation called for an emergency intervention and a photographic investigator knows how to rescue her subjects even without any Bach remedies... Because there can be no objective photographic investigation in an atmosphere of fear, disappointment or worry. All I had was Light and that is what I used (don't ask me how...). 

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Window shopping in Athens

Window shopping in Athens

So many times I have talked about the dangers of moving too often between dimensions and time lines when photographically investigating people, stories, possible events or concepts, like I do. And God knows I had passed the limit. If anyone would have asked at any time, I would've completely rejected the possibility of doing it again, unless for going back to pre colombian Peru or pre captain Cook Hawai'i. Well, I did anyway it for Athens, my home city, a place I usually hate, a place I am bound -don't ask me by what- to return to. Of course the reason wasn't real, it was just a department store's spring window decorations. But what is real anyway?

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Incognito

Incognito

I am not always hired to photographically investigate mysterious personalities. Sometimes my assignments have to do with some secret technological invention or material, informations hidden in peoples clothes or accessories and so on... This time I found myself again in Venice,  investigating... a dress. It was made by a revolutionary material, called "Incognito" that didn't need washing or ironing and could stay fresh for a maximum of 10 days, making it the ideal item for medium time getaways or business travel (even vacation). It was conceived to accommodate the ideal of "no luggage traveling", an ideal that I am proud to say that I am a great advocate of, since I love travelling to exotic places only with the clothes I am wearing, my photography kit and my book. I had figured that everything else I could need (mostly pareos, hats, sunscreen and swimming suits) I would be able to buy there. The dress in question was ideal for spring and summer travel and the traveler should be able to carry all that she would need in the large bag that came with it as an indispensable accessory, mostly because women feel secure by caring a bag -being a huge bag carrier myself, this is a mystery I haven't solved yet. 

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Graceland

Graceland

That was the name of her destination, a place one could travel to without moving, since it was in another dimension. I have done so many trips of that sort in my photographic investigations career that I was reluctant to follow. Interdimensional travel is very dangerous for the life of the photographic investigator because it depletes -in a very rapid rate- the vital energy supplies. I didn't have much of them anymore. But a photographic investigator can't just sit and preserve whatever energy she has left. It's like being dead already. "You never know which one could be your last investigation" I thought to myself. It might as well be this one. 

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Looking for Grace

Looking for Grace

That was the objective of yet another assignment, another photographic investigation. Once I found her and I completed my job, though, I realised I wasn't the only one looking for her. Of course once one realises that she is always hiding in plain sight, suddenly there is no need for looking. Anyway, she was here only temporarily, so I had to take advantage of that. I found out that she was heading to a place called Graceland and I decided to follow her there. This place is found in another reality and I didn't know if there was any energy left in me for all this. Time travel and reality crossing is exhausting, it depletes a photographic investigator's vital energy. One of these days I was about to complete my last mission, I knew that, maybe this one would be in Graceland, after all. More about that in the following blog post (if there is going to be one...). 

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