The following text (originally written in Spanish) was awarded the first place in MARCO’s (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey) short story contest in 2016. The prompt was to write about how museums can be places of inspiration. I don’t know how, but this piece was written in about an hour. This type of quick inspiration has not repeated itself ever since.
My reflection moved in the water’s surface as it filled the central space in MARCO. I was kneeling on the floor, trying to get my nose to touch the water while my mom pulled at my blouse, trying to stop me from falling head first into my fragmented image over the marble floors.
It was one of many Sundays that my parents had accepted to buy a ticket to the museum in order to please their annoying daughter that wanted to see again the same paintings. At that time, they were nothing but colors to me.
It could have been 2001, 2002 or 2003. I could have been 4, 5 or 6, yet in the end, the days and the years are the same for children. I don’t know how many, but there were multiple years of my life in which most Sundays were reserved to grab lunch with my aunt and uncle at MARCO’s restaurant. Sundays in which the paintings and the ramp near the entrance where my main entertainment.
I walked through art exhibitions that I had already seen a thousand times. The paintings changed even though they were the same. Sometimes it was the colors that caught my attention, sometimes I just walked straight into the next gallery. I wasn’t tall enough to see the paintings face to face. I saw them the way you look at an adult, the way you look at a giant. A girl with her nose turned upwards trying to understand why adults were in trance with those framed figures.
To start from the end, to walk sideways, to walk backward. I got lost as a child between the paintings of the Great Mexican Masters, the sculptures of Robert Therrien, and then in Frida and Julio Galán.
I think the silence was what bothered me the most, just like it would bother any small child. I saw people walking alone. I saw them look at the paintings and then leave quietly. I had the need to talk, to create the stories behind every panting while I ran from one gallery to the other.
16 years have gone by and the silence doesn’t bother me anymore. It now accompanies me as a guide that lets me understand each piece. Pieces, that although I can now look in the eyes, remain as giants.
The water in the center of the museum continues to show my reflection. A reflection that moves and is constantly transformed but that brings me back to the same feelings I had when I was younger.
The dove that has received me at the entrance for so many years watches me from a distance.
The curiosity that awoke ever since I ran through Sunday’s buffet and down the ramp near the main entrance, that admired the high ceilings and the bright pink and yellow walls, has followed me now to the exit. It will be waiting for me again next Sunday.