The Church of The Compania of Jesus is among UNESCO's 100 most important World Heritage Site Monuments
Today via an old iPhoto file I found a bounty of bad photographs I had taken back in 2006 in Quito Ecuador. I was attending a model search courtesy of MC Squared hosted by Mr Jean Luc Brunuel. Off the bat he told us judges that the star of the bunch was a young teenager from Latvia named Ginta. He was beyond right. That trip to Quito was very strange. I knew nothing culturally of what Quito Ecuador was. The first morning in I had trouble breathing . It was Quito's placement at a very high altitude that was the problem. Maybe it was that thin mountain air but I do recall people melting down left, right and center. Legend has it that one badly behaved make-up artist was sent straight out of the country...with a police escort. I aspire one day to achieve such a feat. Apart from the radiance of the young Ginta, the highlight of that sojourn had to be the visit to the church in Quito's Old City, known as La Compania de Jesus. Built in the 17th century ( by the Jesuits between 1605 and 1650) the church is said to have required seven tons of gold for the gilding on the ceiling, walls, and altars. I cannot verbalize the impact of being in that church ...the sense of light glinting and dancing and coiling from every which angle...the scent of hundreds of years of varnished woods, old incense...the compressed energy of all that faith and prayer. They say the Jesuits went for the full-on effect of gold on gold to shock and awe the Indians into converting to Christianity. I remember walking out of La Compania de Jesus a convert. I didn't mean to be sacriligous but I thought as I staggered out back into the blaze of daylight, "Fuck Minimalism". Loos contended "Ornamentation Is A Crime" , and God knows the exploitation of the Indians in the name of religion was exactly that... but the insanity of that gilding! That's a human need that cannot be ever fully removed from our psyche. Try as we might. I wish I had taken more pictures. I wish I had taken pictures of the young models in scant bikinis shivering in the cavernous bowels of an ancient church before strutting out on stage (it was the equivalent of winter in Ecuador then). I wish I had snapped the priests in brown robes looking at the model clad bikins in confusion as the girls gathered around the monitors , some in tears as their names were not called during the announcement of the winners. I wish I had taken up the offer to hop onto a small plane and visit the Amazon for a charming day of trading with some local Indians . I was put off my the requirement of taking vaccines for everything from yellow fever to malaria before we departed. I remember one rogue coming back from that expedition with leopard skin slippers. Ecuador changed my way of seeing forever. I could never see things in minimal black and white ever again after all that gold. Not aesthetically and not morally.
A baby Ginta in 2006