At nine o'clock in the morning I put on a crisp blue apron and tie it at the back, making sure it won't come off at some important moment of work. I take a last breath of the wintry Dublin air and walk slowly to the kitchen of the café where Chef Dejan is waiting for me. He speaks almost no English, is Croatian, an ex-soldier, served his country for three years and then worked in a bank. No money, not a lot of money in Croatia, he tells me as he prepares one of the café's signature dishes, the Shakshuka. The dish is prepared in an Ikea cast-iron skillet with chorizo, mushrooms, peppers, oil, salt and a little butter; he adds two fried eggs, then puts the skillet in an oven for three minutes. Finally, add feta cheese, onion, salt and pepper. This is one of the dishes that takes him the longest to prepare, maybe 7 to 9 minutes depending on how stressed he is that day. For me it takes 1 to 2 minutes to clean up depending on how much grease has accumulated. At first I was disgusted by it, but after a while it no longer matters. I also stopped caring about the scars on my hands because of the speed with which I have to quickly cut avocado, mushrooms and peppers. At the end of the workday, my clothes smell of food, but not the smell of baked biscuits or the soup of the day - tomato and basil - but a mixture of sweat, and the accumulation of grease in the corners of the kitchen, in the frying pans, in the pots and pans... everywhere. It is likely that my smell, my scent has already permeated the kitchen.
When I leave the café, I go to a fancy supermarket where an avocado costs three euros, or a Spanish chorizo sausage seven euros. I don't go there out of frivolity but because it's so close to my flat and because it's the only place where they sell my favourite beer: Harp.
I buy about four beers, which is the equivalent of an hour's work and when I leave, I slowly walk down Dunville Street, trying to capture something around me that makes sense of my existence, that justifies that being in Ireland is a good idea, that walking the same streets that James Joyce, Beckett or Eavan Boland also did, rekindles my aspirations that soon I will work somewhere else that I am really passionate about. A friend once told me that work doesn't necessarily have to be fun, that nowadays Google and all those cult companies have implanted this ideology of playfulness associated with work, and I agree with him, although the physical fatigue, together with the social subjugation of being a kitchen porter in a country where Latin American immigrants are the ones who normally do that job, is not the same as working at home, while one prepares a Nespresso and orders poached eggs with hollandaise sauce for breakfast from an iPhone app.
Sometimes I would like to dissociate myself, to convince myself that being a dishwasher is a transitory job, that despite the physical, mental and social hardship it entails, I don't have to do it forever; I am already lucky to come to study in Dublin and beyond the opinions of others about the privilege I have, I worry about the pressure I put on myself where success is associated with the job I have. Lately I have been unable to sleep; I look at social media and am overwhelmed by the idea that people attain a wisdom that Zarathustra himself never dreamed of.
But every now and then I find anomalies, something that the algorithm missed: Andrés Gudiño. He has already been written about, his works have been related to sexuality, to pleasure and at the same time to the forbidden, to repression; Freud would think of the sinister. I think of other theories and philosophical approaches to his work, but strangely I can't articulate them, perhaps because I would prefer to be just another spectator who is situated in front of his work as one who imagines the impossible but keeps it to himself. Someone give me the artist's number, or his email so I can make him a proposal: that he lends me his mascara for a few days; at work I'll be Kitchen Porter, the obedient and dedicated dishwasher, and when my working day is over, I'll be someone else. I like the blue mask, with its reddened skin on the cheeks, and the long eyelashes. I imagine a mask that would allow me to bring out the naughty, the dirty, the grotesque in me, but not as a defence mechanism, but as an attitude to face the suffering of everyday life for a few moments. I would become a fairly flexible object of desire, and for the first time, social hierarchies, my subjective position as an immigrant, and my expectations of Dublin and its inhabitants would be irrelevant.
Artist: Andrés Gudiño ig: @gudino.a