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    "Tina is my paradigm"

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    “Tina es mi paradigma”The pandemic deprived me of the opportunity to see her face while answering my questions, however, in the audios sent by WhatsApp I could feel her voice, taken by passion when talking about Tina Modotti, another of the "ways" to get to Mella, if not the other way around, judging from her own words.

     “I always told myself, as a researcher, that before writing something properly related to the life of Julio Antonio Mella, I wanted to reach him through another figure. Tina, with that magic and history that runs between legend and reality, controversial and transgressive from her time, was the route I chose to rediscover him. "

    Reina de la Caridad Torres Pérez, writer of the book Tina Modotti. Much more than a naked body, published recently by Pablo de la Torriente Brau Publishing House, recognizes in the qualities of the Italian woman another reason to create a work that "drinks" from the sap of previous research, articles and analysis, enriched with information that she was able to collect and with her own valuations.

    "The essential motivation," she insisted, "was to reach Mella's heart, through Tina's skin and soul. Although she is an admirable figure for anticipating her time, for her conditions, her thinking, the way she assimilated different cultures and natural intelligence. Despite not having a high academic education, she mastered six languages and wokked as a translator.

    “I was also prompted by her daring, audacity and the questions generated by her personality. Tina is an enigma, like the great figures of history, but she is, above all, an emancipated woman.

    “She was daring, she posed nude for photographers, like Edward Weston, who was her teacher and her lover. Her figure is closely associated with this facet, the daring to shed her costumes and show her face in snapshots, something unusual at the time, however, she did it for other artists, including Diego Rivera and Roubaix de L 'Abrie Richey (Robo, her first husband, who drew her unclothed). Before, she had discovered her body, wrapped only in lace, for stills of the silent cinema. She did it! It was her way of saying ?that's me and I'm here’, not caring that some people unfairly called her a prostitute.

    But I see in her more than that. I want young people to take her on as the communist and revolutionary woman, photographer and pioneer of the photo report in America, soldier and nurse from the Spanish Civil War (even qualified as a spy). I wanted to show this woman and how much she did, with the aim that her figure is not reduced to Mella's girlfriend, her partner of four months, her last partner.

    “For me, she was an extraordinarily talented fighter and woman, deprived of motherhood for biological reasons, yet attracted and extremely sensitive to children. This is how she proved it by integrating the International Red Aid, an opportunity in which she gave her love and attention by rescuing numerous infants wounded in bombings."

    “As novelties, the text proposes a contextualization of Modotti's personality, based on a historical-philosophical analysis, and an approach to facets not widely known in Cuba. The book highlights her work as a photographer, the meaning she had as an artistic expression and a tool in the fight against imperialism and capitalism."

    The work is the result of years of searching in libraries, newspapers and the Internet, many hours of reading and repeated reviews that allowed her to triangulate the information. She had no personal sources, no one who had known Tina. “It is not a compilation or a biography; it's closer to the essay, ”she says.

    Reina assures that the cooperation of prominent intellectuals and friends was indispensable, who gave her to drink from her wealth, and contributed photos and texts of her. She mentions, with admiration and deep gratitude, Adys Cupull and Froilán González, her "spiritual guides in devotion to Mella and Tina."

    “Through Ramón Rodríguez, professor at the Central University“ Marta Abreu ” in Las Villas, I contacted Maricela Barrientos, a Mexican who I told about my project and she prepared to help me from the Aztec nation. She went to the University of Chapingo, in Mexico, she requested authorization and took photos in the chapel where the murals of the prominent Latin American artist Diego Rivera are exposed, in which the image of Tina Modotti stands out.

    “But Maricela did not stay there, she came to her grave, in the cemetery of Dolores, in Mexico. Later, in one of her emails, she told me that Modotti was recognized in her country, however, it was me who aroused her interest in that figure. She even sent me photos of the moment when she deposited a bouquet of carnations at her initiative and also on my behalf."

    In the year that marks the 125th anniversary of her birth, the Italian re-emerges from the lyrics of a Cuban who has much more to tell about her short and intense life. The book is distributed throughout the country, while the author dreams of presenting it, even just in a reduced framework, due to the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    A novel, where elements of reality and fiction about the life of Modotti are mixed, could be Reina's next installment. "Before," she specifies, a book about Mella will see the light, as soon as possible, but also under the seal of Pablo de la Torriente Publishing House."

    For the moment, she is delighted with the result of an extraordinary exercise of searching for information, synthesis, analysis and selection, which allowed her to accumulate knowledge and put herself to the test as a researcher and writer, two categories that create great commitment and responsibility. Anyway, she assures, readers will have the last word.

    “On a personal level, if I loved Mella before, after meeting Tina I love him more. And according to her, if I admired her before, now I envy her, for being who she was and for that short but stormy and volcanic, so carnal and ideal relationship. It is a healthy envy, turned into a tribute”, she expresses excitedly.

    “Tina was my paradigm and now it is confirmed. Before, I felt that some personal issues brought me closer to her and after delving into her life I have realized that, saving the distance and without aspiration to equal myself, I wish I were Tina.

    “Once, Ángel Cabrera, a historian from the city of Ciego de Ávila, during a conference to a full house at the University of Medical Sciences, said that I was Mella's girlfriend from Ciego de Ávila. I know that he (Julio Antonio) has many girlfriends but, I am the one from here. Every time I go to Havana - accompanied by Pastor, my partner in life - I visit his grave and we talk. Being Mella's girlfriend is also being the Tina Modotti of these times”.