About Arkhé

by Léo Ortuno

Arkhé shares with us the experience of an earthquake in Mexico City in the 80s. In Armando Navarro’s montage of archive images, a voice guides us through the event, commenting on and providing deep insights about these images, which are as damaged as the city and the bodies within it. Not much longer than a tremor, this film is a fascinating, moving, and vital testimony.  

Interview with Armando Navarro

Images of other times

“I love images. They have always fascinated me. Especially images of other times: family albums, historical registries of the places I have lived, etc. I have made several pieces on the archival history of Mexico, and some of its themes are horrendous: students massacred, grotesque armed violence, and of course, the earthquakes that have broken our city so many times. When I am faced with those images, I study the archives, I look at them over and over again, for as long as I can. I let myself be affected by those images and, at some point, they become part of me. Then I write. Once those affections have been released, the writing shows me how to edit the images back together.”

A Mexico City earthquake

“I was born in Zacatecas, far away from Mexico City, in 1989. The earthquake was a distant historical event that had nothing to do with me. However, in 2007, I came to live in Mexico City. Ten years later, on the night of the 18th september 2017, I was watching En Punto, the stellar news broadcast of N+. They were talking about a commemorative act for the victims of the 1985 earthquake. It was going to take place the next day, the anniversary of the catastrophe. The broadcast was showing archive images of the earthquake. I was profoundly moved by them. The next day, the 19th of September 2017, at 1:14 in the afternoon, the earth shook again. The city was broken again. While the earthquake took place and my body moved without control, those images appeared in my mind, in my heart. “We need those images”, I thought, “we need to look at them again and again… and always.”

An activist’s voice

“The character described in this piece works with historical archives, as I have done for some years. His impressions and affections are mine. However, Arkhé is, above all, the narration of an absence: the archivist is gone, there is only a voice that talks about him. When I wrote this text, I was thinking of Tomás, my son. He is one year and a half old and was born in Mexico City. If there is only one certainty about this place is that it will be again shaken by an earthquake. Tomás will need those images as I did. Maybe he will need them when I am no longer here. And maybe Arkhé can talk to him then, comfort him in some way.“

At La Semaine de La Critique



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