Argentina: Villa Dominguez, Entre Ríos; Campo Ramón, Misiones; Buenos Aires.
Mexico: Mexico City; Tijuana, Baja California; San Pedro Cajonos, Oaxaca, San José del Pacífico, Oaxaca, Chacahua, Oaxaca; Lacanjá Chansayab, Chiapas; La Guadalupe, Veracruz.
Cuba: La Habana, Santa Clara, Trinidad, Mayarí Arriba, Santiago de Cuba.
Guatemala: Tzununá, San Pedro, Jaibalito.
United States: New York, Texas, Florida, Princeton, New Jersey.
A cronic of the presentation of Andrés Neuman’s book.
by Osvaldo Quiroga, a neighbour.
Villa Dominguez, Entre Ríos, Argentina
Yesterday was an atypical day in the community. For the first time, a literary work by a boy who is barely ten years old, was presented to society, to his neighbors. There were many expectations from the beginning: we visited the two schools in the village –a primary and a secondary school-, we also visited the local radio –that works as a coop-; and a small, improvised poster was given to each neighbor that passed by, that was also pasted on the walls on every street, and the next morning the entire village woke up to posters wallpapered everywhere. And every neighbor that passed by was given a small, improvised poster, that was also hung on the walls around the village, that woke up wallpapered with them.
There was some logistics carried out between several collaborators. Some brought chairs, some brought portable lights, another a small hand-held microphone. The place for the presentation was settled upon: the central square. Beneath a leafy lapacho there was a carpet of flowers, just in front of Andrés’ house. And when it seemed the community had awoken ready for the cultural event, unexpectedly, it began to rain. We immediately had to look for an alternative location, and a few meters far from the square, a huge warehouse. which 100 years ago was used as an immigrant hotel: the first roof that thousands of people ever had when they arrived at this nascent town, seemed to invite us to this meeting that reflects work and feelings.
The act was scheduled for 3 p.m. The rain went on, but little by little people started to arrive. In the warehouse there was placed a scenery in accordance for a meeting: chairs arranged in a circular shape, simulating a hoop, surrounded by other chairs, which invited every listener to have a place in order to hear the reading, and also to comment later, because it’s a reunion. Andres’ family, his friends, friends of his family, teachers, the Mayor, and other neighbors, were invited to listen to Reunión, which I don’t know whether it’s a group, a space, or a project.
The act was very touching. Daniel told us what Reunión is all about, how they have been working, what kind of activities and where... I think the idea or the intention is to give voice to those who would hardly have the opportunity to have their thoughts, their feelings, written in letters in a book. Everyone has feelings, but to have them immortalized in a book or a paper, that’s hard.
Once the introduction ended, Andrés, the host, read his poems. He shyly started to read them surrounded –almost hugged- by his companions, who silently helped him along in his lecture, as if checking that no part was skipped. The gurises helped him, and in the middle of the lecture, Andrés began to gain confidence and clarity, and he seized all the people’s silence, and their emotion, which was not small. My wife was behind me, and also my daughter, and they told me that when Andrés began to read, his grandmother and his mother were very moved. It’s just that when you see your children in a school play or something like that, you are moved, so I guess it must be very moving that your child can give you something of his own. I assume it must be very moving. I hope it happens to me one day. When Andrés says: “I’m Andrés Neuman, I live in Villa Dominguez, I go to Isidoro Suarez primary school” he’s naming the whole community, he is naming all of us.
The coronation of applause was the expected result, which Andrés thanked with a smile. Afterwards, some works by different authors were read by random people: a teacher, a mother, schoolboys, the director of the museum, a young man, a young woman, each one representing, or being at that time, the voice of a brazilian artist, a mexican, a paraguayan, among others, who accompany Andres’ book with their works. After that we took a final photograph in the center of the warehouse, while the incipient author took his time to sign the books that he generously gave to those present.
Reunión in Big Sur Art Gallery, Buenos Aires.
by Santiago Villanueva
It seems to me that it would be useful to abstract ourselves from the texts and make a formal reading of the piece, which in the gallery functioned as an object, a circle.
The circle is a format linked to rituals, a pleasant format for reading, very kind to listen and to see. But in this case, the audience was left out, and those who read did not look at the audience but at each other. The object was constantly denying those on the outside. That gave it certain character. What if the spokespersons would have turned and read back to back? Looking inward, there was no other way of thinking this system of interlaced readings than as an object, a piece of art, the point at which this project and its voices take on an objectual dimension.
It became a chorus. There was a very structured script, an order chosen in advance, a composition with voices. And that composition was a work in itself that exceeded the read text and opened towards the sonority of text. It was strange what was happening to the people in the room. People didn’t circulate from side to side to hear from different areas, nor did they get inside the circle, even though we were in an art gallery, a place that enables another corporeality. Any reading instance leads people to stop doing whatever they are doing, to stop walking, moving and to just stop. In this case, the reading incorporated into the work, generated a force that in addition to stopping visitors stopped everything.
Why were these people so intimidating? There was a very important degree of intimidation. Those who were reading intimidated and those who were read intimidated too. Presence over presence. Some of them reading some of them being read. Double distance. Unfolding of places and people. Poems taken from the place where they were produced and put into a gallery; and poems being read by other people.
It was obviously not a poetry reading, it was a work made of voices that generated a time only for itself. Even though different things coexisted on it, it was understood that you were watching and listening to a piece. There was no way to consider each text separately. The format gave the piece something of wholeness. Of completeness. I think that’s why nobody stood up. Nobody stood up and left. In order to approach the play, you had to listen to all the voices of the circle. The circle wasn’t a reader's runway, it was a gear, everything was linked to the other. And that created a maximum level of abstraction that is very difficult to achieve.