The most important thing is the camera. Where you put it. What angle you choose. How long you leave the shutter open.
My name is Fran, Francisco Mateos Cano. And this year I have decided, together with my drama colleagues, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of its foundation. You may be thinking that an ephemeris is an objective fact, with no room for manoeuvre. But as you will see in the following chapters, history is diffuse and abstract. You will have to pay close attention to detail to know whether it was born here or there.
Yes, it’s been ten years since I made the first image for Nieto Sobejano. But there’s still a long way to go.
Now it’s 2010. May. If you pass me at the architecture school in Madrid, you’ll see an ambiguous character with too many aspirations. I still haven’t given up the idea of being a singer-songwriter, hence the corduroy jacket. I bought it at the flea market and, as it smelt funny, I washed it in the laundry at the university. That’s why the back pleat forms a ridiculous pouch towards the waist area.
I owe the A3 folder and the flat rucksack to my hope of becoming an architect. I cross the hall to the cafeteria and there is Aurora.
Aurora Herrera was my project teacher in the second year and recently had been my teacher in the last year. She is a brilliant, over-the-top, powerful person. She dresses in vaporous, three-dimensional fabrics. I had chosen her chair, Justo Isasi’s, because Justo was the only professor who knew how to teach projects. I don’t mean to say that the others were bad teachers. Especially if you wanted to do the same architecture they did.
But Justo was capable of sitting in front of you with his elusive and generous gaze, looking at your project and asking you: “What architect do you want to be when you grow up? And based on that, he would draw lines and lead you through the most exciting twists and turns of your hope. A humble and beautiful teacher. On one side of him sat Ángel Borrego, whom we will get to later, and on the other Aurora, who always treated me with affection.
Although I always have a challenging and solemn attitude, Aurora laughs and talks to me about Coderch and Utzon, she plays me down.
But now we are in the corridor and Aurora grabs my arm. “I’m going to have a quiz, I need you.” And I float over and call my parents who get partially excited because all parents think their child is special.
So far I had only worked helping my friend Pedro in some competition, and Pedro himself had called me to collaborate with an old-school architect to make a geriatric home in Mota del Cuervo.
I remember that the architect promised me that if the project went well he would invite me to sushi at the best Japanese restaurant in Tetuán. I stayed every night that week in his metropolitan studio. I rushed to Metrovacesa. I handed in the plans, went back to the studio and stayed waiting for his approval in the form of niguiri. Instead he gave me a cheque for one hundred and twenty euros for two weeks’ work, which I spent on my way out on a Faber Castell pen.
But back to Aurora, who has summoned me to her studio at six o’clock on a Wednesday evening. I look in the mirror and cheer myself up. I leave my wonderful little studio on Calle Fuencarral to go to Quintana. The neighbourhood is like any other. Telephone booths, clothes and fruit shops, mattress shops. I go up to the first one and knock on the door. A middle-aged girl opens the door and looks at me as if I were a cat on the road. She tells me to wait in a large, bright meeting room at the back. There is a dog perched on a beautiful sofa.
An hour passes and I’m still alone, sketching nonsense in my brand new Moleskine. The dog looks at me defiantly. After a while two boys arrive. Javi, introducing himself, is very thin and has electric blue eyes. He exudes a carefree, giggly attitude. Next to him, Manolo, displays an army of charisma. The room fills up.
We wait together for Aurora for a while. I feel like an intruder but I pull out the best of my repertoire to keep up with the two strangers. It amuses me to feel out of place. How could I think that these two boys in front of me were going to change my life forever. Aurora appears through the door.
She circles the room, dropping off bags and plans. She doesn’t leave a single cubic centimetre uncovered. She looks like the Tasmanian devil. She sits down, winks at me: Look, this is Fran, my collaborator. Fran, this is Javi and Manolo. From León 11.