Contrary to the buildings,
which almost always belong to someone,
the streets in principle belong to no one.
Followers is an homage to the idea that everything is always a quote.
Where do I belong and where do I like to go –
which person, group or belief do I support, admire or follow?
What is our personal reference point to the world:
Is it the local condition – the city,
the individual or his/her public representation – the persona,
or Mother Earth – nature?
In times of social media we all have become followers.
Walking through the streets of Mexico City – which are named
after foreign cities or the greatest writers, humanists or scientists –
while following others, one gets an idea of what it is like to get lost
by following strangers in real life.
Walking the Streets of Polanco, Mexico City, 2022 – 13:51 Min.
Walking the Streets of Juárez and Nápoles, Mexico City, 2022 – 10:09 MIN.
Walking Where Streets Have No Name, Mexico City, 2022 – 8:55 Min.
Lorena Moreno Vera, 2022ENGLISH / español
It is interesting the level of anonymity that a city as large as Mexico City offers. This is partly due to its size, population, and chaos, but much is also the city's loudness. As one walks through its streets, one passes through waves of excessive noise that allow inaudible dialogues for uninvited ears.
This plain-sight anonymity receives another level of absurdity thanks to the countless surveillance cameras placed around most of the corners of the city to subvert—as a palliative—its insecurity. However, this same insecurity makes us Mexicans paranoid par excellence, mixed with our deep concern for "what people will say." That is why one develops a certain radar with which, despite cohabiting with 20 million other people, one can notice the slight variation between the simple coincidence of two bodies following the same trajectory and when this coincidence becomes a threat.
Here we should also delve into the followed subject's reaction; this "how can I get rid of this guy following me without it being obvious" without generating suspicion that I have noticed. For this, several options come in handy, ranging from the acceleration/deceleration of the pace, a sudden pause, a discreet glance out of the corner of the eye, crossing to the other side of the sidewalk, or entering an establishment. For Vito Acconci, the latter was the guideline to change the route and choose "another victim" to resume the choreography outlined by threat and desire.
Well, "victim" sounds very rapacious for something that is not necessarily malicious. On the contrary, following someone can be a simple act of contemplation that is entertaining and highly interesting. Besides, following people has become the most popular activity in the last decade. Perhaps, it is only its virtual character that covers it in a less aggressive disguise. But where does the pleasure of observing a subject's day-to-day life lie? What is it that makes one subject more interesting than another? And on the contrary, what is the pleasure in being followed? Because for many, that number indicated at the top of their social media accounts seems to validate their "being in the world."
In the first place, it is the selection of that something about a certain someone that catches the eye, whether by identification, attraction, or repulsion. They all work on almost the same scale. Then it is the subject's analysis; first as a whole and then the details: height, age, gestures, the way and rhythm of walking, clothing, body, wear and tear, and the form that all these elements adopt as a result of this coexistence. All this happens at the speed of our steps.
For example, along Hegel, a man of a hard-to-place age, walks with a listless sway as if his body were about to fall apart. Like a flimsy structure that walks with a sort of carefree "trembling" that matches the looseness of his clothes. To all this set and in perfect rhythm with this swaying is added in the background a fragment of "Fuiste mía un verano" by Leonardo Favio that the valet parking listens to on his cell phone as he becomes a third spectator of this picture.
Schiller greets a young guy with bougainvillea and candy. He may be in his thirties/forties, judging by his bald head. As he walks, his legs spread out in a wide, kicking rhythm, wobbling his whole body from right to left. The classic walk of an "alpha male." He can't help but turn his head slightly to glance to the right and check out the "stalker."
When Plato crosses Seneca, an infinite column of Brâncuși promenades with a robust torso and a tight jacket girding the waist, where two limbs emerge that widen and narrow at their joints to the rhythm of the gait.
But enough with the personalities that outline Polanco, let's continue with these European and American cities that give caché* to the streets of the central-western neighborhoods.
London is short but lively. Before reaching the crossroads where London and Havre meet, a man with a silver mane of hair hidden inside the collar of his shirt walks with a swagger supported by his cane. As he turns the corner, this dance is accompanied by the loudspeaker of a pawnshop that calls its potential customers to the rhythm of Rayito Colombiano. Attune to this rhythm, the man fetches a few pesos in his back pocket to buy a midday “chuchuluco*" at the “puestito*."
Further down the road, in the crystalline turquoise of Marseille 70 dwells a man who incessantly searches for something between his nose and mouth. The pursuit is slow and shameless. Perhaps it is simply a gesture, or he is trying to cover his face from the snoopers outside. In any case, his little dog comes “al quite*” to chase away anyone who wants to contemplate this scene. In another French city, Nice, a guy in his fifties strolls among tin stalls and smells of “garnacha*." The man gesticulates, moving the squares of his shirt agitatedly. He senses the proximity of someone following him and prefers to risk his neck by crossing the avenue hastily. After the futile attempt to shake off his follower, he abruptly stops and gets lost between arepas and tacos in Liverpool.
A trumpet follows San Francisco's urban wiring along a trajectory as rugged as the pattern of the tangled wires. Its trumpet player walks down the street playing the same melody for blocks, over and over again. This melody tries to be heard and remunerated by one of the neighbors on the block. Of course, there are also "complacencies" such as the Mañanitas for special occasions or Joan Sebastian's "Rumores," as when San Francisco becomes Sacramento.
Finally, between Tokyo and Prague, one leafs through a book as cautiously as one walks, one by one and one in front of the other with mouth and nose covered.
My body as a system of possible movements transmitted by my body to the environment (the environment as a system of possible movements transmitted from the environment to my body).
As the streets grow steeper and their names start to vanish, the role of the follower and the followed change in the plot. The latter becomes an active guide, making way through crooked steps and barking dogs, while the former gives into the uncertainty of the route with an agitated breath.
Streets give in to anonymity and yield a wilder labyrinth taken over by the undergrowth. This path opens up the summit of the Cerro de Tenayuca and its abstract overview of a city with a million names.
caché —(Mex.) Style and elegance in the way of dressing or doing things.
puestito—(Mex.) A simple, informal commercial establishment, especially one that is set up on the sidewalk.
chuchuluco — (Mex.) Candy, snack.al quite — (Mex.) Momentary help given by one person to another to get out of some difficulty.
garnacha — (Mex.) Set of snacks sold in simple and informal establishments.
 “what was most striking was the coincidence of a barely concealed sense of threat with the networks of desire and dependence created in its simple choreography. McDonough, T. (2002, season-03). The Crimes of the Flaneur. October, 102, 109.
 Vito Acconci, commentary in Judith Russi Kirshner, Vito Acconci: A Retrospective 1969 to 1980 (Chicago: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1980), p. 10 in McDonough, T. (2002, season-03). The Crimes of the Flaneur. October, 102, 109.
Thanks to: Leopoldo MORALES PRAXEDIS, zeller van almsick, Lorena Moreno Vera, cornelis van almsick, dajana dorfmayr, christopher edi and many more