A Crime Has Many Stories (English)
The shortest distance between two points is never a straight line
November 29, 2008, Buenos Aires, Argentina
A Crime Has Many Stories, is an exquisite corpse project commissioned and produced by Eloisa Haudenschild and Steve Fagin of the haudenschildGarage, based on Argentine writer Ricardo Piglia's short story, La Loca y el Relato del Crimen (Madwoman and the Story of a Crime, 1975) set in Buenos Aires and plotted with co-conspirators Judi Werthein, Sonia Becce and Alejandro Ruiz. Piglia's text generated two site-specific pieces and a commissioned story by Argentine writer Washington Cucurto.
In May of 2008, the haudenschildGarage traveled to Buenos Aires to meet with its advisory curatorial committee. Argentine curator Sonia Becce and Argentine artist Judi Werthein selected a short list of artists for the project, working in installation, photo and video. From this short list, Eloisa Haudenschild, Steve Fagin, and Alejandro Ruiz selected artists Roberto Jacoby, Fernanda Laguna and Rosalba Mirabella for the two site-specific pieces. Monica Jovanovich coordinated the project in San Diego and Buenos Aires.
On November 29, 2008 a multidisciplinary, one-day extravaganza headed by Argentine producer Alejandro Ruiz began with a video of Ricardo Piglia's elegant interpretation of his own text performed especially for our event and premiered at Malba - Fundación Costantini (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires). We traveled from the opening of the project at Malba - Fundación Costantini to the closing celebration in La Boca by way of the projects by Jacoby, Laguna and Mirabella in a movable feast of culture and repast. The climax of our extravaganza was the inaugural performance of Washington Cucurto's savagely brilliant short story, El Hijo, commissioned by the haudenschildGarage in response to Piglia’s La Loca y el Relato del Crimen. Cucurto and the literary collective Eloisa Cartonera performed an ensemble reading of the story in La Boca. A catalog of the entire project and a limited edition Survival Kit was provided to the participants at Malba to facilitate their journey. Both were produced in collaboration with Eloisa Cartonera.
The goal of this project was to generate a dynamic event that worked across literature, art and the city. Our hope, by joining artists from the 60s with young artists of the present and crossing the boundary of literature and fine art, was to "perform" the continuity and range of Argentine cultures at its strongest. We feel that the role of South America and Argentina in general has been greatly underestimated on the world stage and we hope this event, in its modest way, will support the growing awareness of the quality and specificity of Argentina's historical and current contributions to world culture.
This project is dedicated to the wisdom, energy and spirit of generous debate that Olivier Debroise (1952-2008) provided us in regard to Latin American culture. With our project, we wish to continue that path.
November 9, 2008
Day of traverse Buenos Aires, Argentina:
Video of author Ricardo Piglia reading his story La Loca y el Relato del Crimen (1975) in the auditorium.
6pm - 7pm, Tucuman 3754 between Salguero and Bulnes, Palermo
Artist Rosalba Mirabella was thinking, writing and drawing a crime during her two month voluntary incarceration in a room in Buenos Aires.
(This project was destroyed by fire and had to be re-conceptualized and installed at the Centro de Investigaciones Artisticas)
7:30pm – 8:30pm, Museo de Calcos y Escultura Comparada "Ernesto de la Carcova", Puerto Madero
Copies end up having real results with Fernanda Laguna and Roberto Jacoby’s project. Through the dexterity of a series of objets d'art being bequeathed, the passage of the seeming same leads to a world of difference.
9pm – 12am, Eloisa Cartonera, Brandsen 647, La Boca
Newly commissioned crime story, El Hijo, by author Washington Cucurto, written in response to Ricardo Piglia's short story, was performed by the collective at Eloisa Cartonera’s La Boca workshop followed by the closing celebration.[/slider]
On October 2009 the haudenschildGarage invited Washington Cucurto and Maria Gomez of Eloisa Cartonera for a residency at the Garage and a Garage Talk on October 15th. From October 16 - 18, 2008 Washington Cucurto and Maria Gomez traveled to Tijuana to present a lecture and a two-day workshop in conjunction with the haudenschildGarage, inSite, Nortestacion, Epicentrico and the Escuela de Artes de la Universidad Autonoma de Baja California.
Un Crimen Tiene Varias Historias (Espanol)
La distancia más corta entre dos puntos nunca es una línea recta
29 de noviembre 2008, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Un crimen tiene varias historias es un proyecto de cadáver exquisito comisionado y producido por Eloisa Haudenschild y Steve Fagin del haudenschildGarage, basado en el cuento de Ricardo Piglia, La loca y el relato del crimen (1975), que acontece en Buenos Aires y que fue tramado junto con los co-conspiradores Judi Werthein, Sonia Becce y Alejandro Ruiz.
El texto de Piglia generó dos obras de sitio específico y un cuento comisionado al escritor argentino Washington Cucurto.
En mayo de 2008, haudenschildGarage viajó a Buenos Aires para reunirse con la curadora Argentina Sonia Becce y la artista argentina Judi Werthein, quienes seleccionaron a un grupo de artistas para el proyecto, trabajando en instalación, fotografía y video. De este grupo, Eloisa Haudenschild, Steve Fagin y Alejandro Ruiz seleccionaron a los artistas Roberto Jacoby, Fernanda Laguna y Rosalba Mirabella. Monica Jovanovich fue la coordinadora del proyecto en San Diego y Buenos Aires.
El 29 de noviembre de 2008, un espectáculo multidisciplinario de un solo día, organizado por el productor argentino Alejandro Ruiz, comenzó con un video de la elegante interpretación por Ricardo Piglia de su propio texto realizado especialmente para nuestro evento y estrenado en Malba – Fundación Costantini (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires).
Nos trasladamos de la apertura en Malba – Fundación Costantini, a la celebración de cierre, deteniéndonos en La Boca y pasando por los proyectos de Jacoby, Laguna y Mirabella en un banquete ambulante de cultura y comida.
Un capítulo de nuestro espectáculo será la interpretación inaugural del brutal y brillante cuento de Washington Cucurto, comisionado por haudenschildGarage como respuesta a La loca y el relato del crimen de Piglia. Cucurto y el colectivo literario Eloisa Cartonera realizarón una lectura del cuento en conjunto La Boca. Un catálogo del proyecto completo fue producido en colaboración con Eloisa Cartonera.
El propósito de este proyecto es generar un evento dinámico que se desarrolle a través de la literatura, el arte y la ciudad. Nuestra esperanza, al juntar a artistas de los años sesenta con artistas jóvenes de hoy y rebasar la frontera entre la literatura y las artes plásticas, es “interpretar” la continuidad y el ámbito de la cultura argentina en su plenitud. Creemos que el papel de Latinoamérica y Argentina en general ha sido enormemente subestimado y esperamos que este proyecto, de forma modesta, apoyará la creciente conciencia de la calidad y especificidad de las contribuciones actuales e históricas de Argentina a la cultura mundial.
Este proyecto está dedicado a la sabiduría, energía y el generoso espíritu de debate que Olivier Debroise (1952-2008) nos proporcionó con respecto a la Cultura Latinoamericana. Con nuestro proyecto deseamos continuar ese camino.
En Octubre 2009, el haudenschildGarage invitó a Washington Cucurto y Maria Gomez de Eloisa Cartonera a una residencia en el Garage y a un Garage Talk el 15 de Octubre. De Octubre 16 al 18, 2009, Washington Cucurto y Maria Gomez viajaron a Tijuana para realizar una presentación y un taller en conjunción con el haudenschildGarage, InSite, Nortestacion, Epicentrico y la Escuela de Artes de la Universidad Autonoma de Baja California.
Washington Cucurto: The Son, A Short Story
Commissioned by the haudenschildGarage 2008
1. The son (El Hijo)
What bothered me the most about our relationship (things were going downhill) was that she had to tell me for a second time that she wouldn’t have the fucking child. After an overwhelming silence, she told me she was afraid and asked me to accompany her to the hospital. And here I could begin another story, or the tragic story of our separation. The hospital in question where I was to take her was, of all places, the Rivadavia Hospital.
I was already sick and tired of living this shit life in a one-room apartment in La Pajarera, in the neighborhood of Once, in a 21-story building full of immigrants. I didn’t want to know about anything else. I wanted to go back to Quilmes and curse the day I plopped out from between my mother’s legs and left there. I discovered that everything that shines, shines because it’s far away. My life was falling apart, like the country, with its cattle and soy problems, its agricultural problems; its roadblocks and its air of restlessness. Milk, bread, yogurt and coffee disappeared from the supermarket shelves. This made Buenos Aires a very expensive city. It already resembled Lima. But I had her, stuck to me. I had my work cut out; the job at the jeans factory saturated me; but I would steal a pair of pants and sell them from my pad in Once. They were Levis, which like a fucking idiot I sold at domestic prices. Word spread and people lined up to buy a pair of jeans. “There’s a nut who’ll sell you a pair of Levis for 20 pesos.” And that gave me a little extra money right away.
Everything was shit. I had left my wife and my three kids to go live with her (I met her at the factory), but I didn’t want to know jack shit about her life anymore. Nothing she did or felt interested me. She turned into an object in my life. One of many that filled our house. Now I’m sitting in this fucking living room and she matters nothing to me. It’s a personal expense. It’s what I always think about; the object I’ve focused all my thoughts on for 15 years. How to get out of my job; make money. Stop them from taking advantage of me. Sometimes, at the least expected time of day, when I sit down to write a story, it’s with the idea of becoming rich and famous. I submit stories to all the contests in Spain, but nothing. I lack vocation. I have to write a great novel, like Roberto Bolaño did. But I’m incapable of writing it. I barely write these poor stories while I wait for the lazy ass doctor to come out and tell us what to do. The worst thing in life is to wait for a doctor to tell you what you have to do. It’s simple: buy a rifle and go out and kill people. End your life and the lives of others! Now that’s a great deed! To all you penniless fleas in the world I say, buy a rifle.
The bastard doesn’t tell me anything. He comes with her, runs his hand over her hair, greets her, and gives her an appointment for next week. I’d like to spit in that rat’s face! All doctors are rats by nature! He shoots her a lapidary look, and I leave (she’s already a burden, a backpack in my life) to sell stolen jeans in Once. The first thing I did was to exchange a pair of jeans with Luis Risco, a thug, a kick ass dealer: a pair of jeans for three grams of coke!
– Man, straight from the fridge of Evo Morales himself, scorpion’s tail, said the bastard by way of apology, while trying the jeans on top. Done. Undone.
I inhaled them in two hits, right there in front of Risco and the policeman who stood on the corner staring at the expensive sneakers in the window of a sports shop. Hey copper, how many hours do you have to put looking after the owners’ businesses to afford a pair of sneakers like that? 36, 48, 65? That’s a lot of hours for a pair of sneakers, a lot of work; it’s easier to take a bribe, to break into the store with a crowbar and take them in a second, effortlessly. That’s the secret of stealing, to take everything without asking for anybody’s permission. Gentlemen, don’t talk to me about democracy, institutions, ha.
I don’t know what the yankees have against coke. Maybe they want it all for themselves. Are those pigs so selfish? New York, fucking hell. I was there once, a long time ago. I traveled the subway, fucking hell, all the niggers stare at you with hate, people everywhere hate each other, what a piece of shit that city, where it’s impossible to live. New York: go to the Bronx, Harlem; you can’t breathe there.
Coke is the great motivator, without a doubt. She’s the best friend ever invented. You do three grams and you’re gone, you go insane.
Thanks to her, I couldn’t stop talking, and I’d sell the jeans for 300 pesos in a flat second, snort them and my nose was in ecstasy… I take communion and I’m in ecstasy. It was the cruelest winter. Luis Risco came up to me and said, let’s set up a business, Cucu.
– Simple, moving merchandise from Once to Maciel Island.
It had been the cruelest winter in years, I repeat, so you’ll feel the cold. It was misses Cristina de Kirchner’s third term. The river froze for the first time in years. The dirty river was a sheet of ice where the children played. The ice was so thick that the cars crossed over it on their way to Uruguay.
It was the best job of my life. The most dangerous, the best paid and the simplest one of all human jobs is to sell drugs. Long live the illegal sale of drugs, gentlemen, it’s an alternative, a struggle against capitalism’s exploitation of labor. It’s a shortcut to the money that’s always waiting for us around the bend in the city of drugs. This is the city of coke, gentlemen. Not Medellin. Not DF. Not La Paz, gentlemen. In Miami nobody takes drugs. No, gentlemen, the capos, the biggest cartel, is in Buenos Aires. The phoniest city. The druggiest city. And from here they take it to Spain, where it’s out of control, where coke is more important than the King, who’s also an addict. Up to what point is taking coke a matter of the heart, a sentimental, Freudian question? One should never stop taking it.
– You’re going to become like those insects who stop smoking and drop dead the next day!, Luis Risco hollered when I told him I wanted to clean up.
– Don’t be an animal, don’t believe what you read in the papers or see on the news–corporations that belong to the cartel owners themselves. Coke doesn’t kill anybody, man, politicians kill; they are the real scum of this earth. What kills is hunger, inequality, democracy, loneliness and finally desperation…
Buenos Aires is the city of coke, I should know, I made almost a hundred trips each night through the streets of Palermo, Belgrano, delivering coke on a bike, a crazy ass delivery service, gentlemen. Who orders 10 grams of shit, in Lima or Cali, at 5 in the morning! All drugs end up here, whether they’re made in Cibao, in Quindio, in Piribibuy, in Ciudad del Este, in Alto, it all ends up here, in the hundred or so porteño neighborhoods. As far as Bolivia and that rotten nigger Evo are concerned, we have to get rid not of their hydrocarbons, but their borders. No to gas, yes to coke. Coke is the best gas. The best job in my life, and the only thing I had to do was cross the river following the shadow line that the bridge of La Boca cast over the ice thanks to the moonlight.
– Listen up, snot nose, where the light draws a line with its shadow, that’s where you have to cross, because that’s where the ice is thick.
I stuffed my clothes with little bags of coke and I crossed over to the Island at two in the morning. There is nothing more threatening and black and solitary than the whiteness of the ice at two in the morning! I crossed over to the island and I delivered the package. I became addicted to her, the free coke, chicken and French fries. The relationship improves steadily, worsening. I fell down a bunch of times; the sheet of ice was slippery. I would reach the other side all beaten up, as if I’d been pummeled by a gang. Until one day I learned how to walk on ice. One can learn anything, even how to carry coke across an ice rink, which is life.
Because of my bad luck or my own stupidity, I hit myself so hard that I broke my hip. I spent the whole night freezing my ass off until a bicycle deliveryman saw me and rescued me. You can’t trust anybody. He had me rescued. He stole my coke and called the cops… and from there I was taken to the hospital… and goodbye to my days as a coke dealer.
The ambulance carted me along Pinzon street, and I caught a whiff of the aroma from Abundio’s pizzeria. What happened after that isn’t even worth telling. I spent six months in a cast. When they removed it my waist was all black and full of hair; it looked like a part from another body; it didn’t feel like my body.
– It’s a fungus, the doctor said. It’ll go away on its own in a few months, just give it some sun and don’t cover it anymore. Do some sports, play ball with your friends from the neighborhood. Do you have any friends in your neighborhood?
Doctors are shit. They should all be killed. I said it before, they’re useless; they can’t even administer a drip, give you a shot, or prescribe an aspirin. I’d rather die before seeing a doctor.
She had finally been scraped out and was doing fine. I was fired from the jeans factory and could no longer find another job. My three kids lived in a one-room apartment in Almagro. They started going hungry. Life was giving me another slap in the face. I became a gimp, and was lucky to get a job at a kiosk, in spite of my hip injury. However, I spent my nights wide awake, working the nightshift at the kiosk. Some two-bit thieves took me for a nobody. They sized me up, saw that I couldn’t run after them or throw a punch without losing my balance and falling on the ground. So these little punks would come and lean against the pillar in the kiosk, and they’d start eating the candy.
– What’s up gimp? Can you still fuck at least?
They’d rip me off big time. The first time I chased them away, hopping on one leg. I didn’t get far, and what was worse, when I returned to the kiosk I found I had been totally cleaned out. First lesson from the master terrorist of life: never abandon your job post or your place in bed, because someone else will take it over.
The owner only said one thing to me:
– Don’t let it happen again, boy.
It happened 5 more times and the owner fired me. The destiny of every human being is to be given the boot, kicked out from here or there, or from home, that’s destiny, write it down with a fluorescent marker, thrown off the face of the earth, the essence of man is to be a nuisance. Expelled, barred from the earth.
When I passed by the kiosk it was being attended by one of the little thieves that used to harass me. I thought of doing the same, but I couldn’t even do that.
I found a job folding covers for empanadas. 5 cents for each folded empanada cover. A miserable pay, but it’s what was within my grasp. A job for invalids. The empanada shop had a beautiful name: The Noble Crease.
One always goes back to cocaine… But for the time being I won’t. I’ll continue with the empanadas.
(My great shortcoming in writing these stories is that I think that what I write is interesting, or that it could be of interest to anybody. And that’s an egomaniacal idiocy! One has to write believing the other person is getting bored, in order to be clear. And go quickly. One has to write with heavy hands, holding one’s breath, to get everything out as quickly as possible. Let the drunks do the thinking! Bore yourself you son of a bitch! Because in order to write something that’s worth telling, one has to put up with 50 years of boring, poor sentences, not a year less. “Fluid, drowsy, deaf, almost without light.” Faulkner.)
. . . . .
Sometimes, on certain mornings when the sun is shinning and you’re in bed, you feel certain that you’re never going to walk again; and I was never going to get over my hip problem. In spite of everything, I got up to mould empanadas at The Noble Crease. One morning one of the owners arrived and moved us to another location, at the intersection of San Luis and Larrea. Once! There, things began to change.
To read the rest of El Hijo/The Son please visit http://www.haudenschildgarage.com/programs/washington-cucurto-el-hijo
Teddy Cruz, architect, on A Crime Has Many Stories
The haudenschildGarage invited architect Teddy Cruz to Buenos Aires, Argentina and commissioned him to write about the haudenschildGarage, Spare Parts project A Crime Has Many Stories and his experience of the city of Buenos Aires as a first time visitor.
Cruising Buenos Aires
1. Arrival to the City of Fury
It was impossible for me to arrive to Buenos Aires for the first time without being followed by the mythical images I’ve had of this city. Anticipating, before landing, for example, that I would be finally walking along the very streets where Ernesto Sabato’s character Pablo Castel roamed desperately, after failing to recuperate the personal letter he had given to that generic Post Office employee. The letter he did not want Maria Iribarne to receive after all because it would finally reveal to her the depth of his own emotional tunnel, ultimately leading to her killing. Or, visualizing the huge penis that Ernesto Subiela moves during his film The Dark Side of The Heart, as a nomadic obelisk, across the huge width of ‘9 De Julio,’ aligning its size with the endless axis of this -according to proud Argentines- ‘the widest boulevard in the world,’ and in so doing, humiliating its own Parisian mother: Champs-Elysees. Or, for an instant, lifting up -vicariously through a Soda Stereo’s song- from the streets of the neighborhood of Palermo to reach to the sky as a ‘daytime vampire,’ just to free fall again into the neighborhoods that turn Buenos Aires into the ‘City of Fury.’ Or, finally, imagining finding my own father among the many terrestrial faces in the city. The man who my mother has silently claimed, in a couple of occasions, to have been a ‘Porteño’ graphic designer, and with whom, even though she has not officially confirmed it yet, she spent a wonderful night -a furtive encounter in Guatemala City, when she also lived her own urban derive- allowing my passage into the world. All of these images converge -now- here as I came to be part of the metropolitan pilgrimage A Crime Has Many Stories, invited by this event’s enablers: The haudenschildGarage, Spare Parts’ producers Eloisa Haudenschild and Steve Fagin. The memory-filled weight of these personal mythical images will transform very soon through this cultural caravan along Buenos Aires, either dissolved by the physical reality of this city or amplified at the various urban intersections, where the haudenschildGarage, as part of this urban experiment, has asked many local artists to perform their own interpretations.
2. The Argentine Phalanstery
I would advise everyone to first enter Buenos Aires through the school of architecture of its National University. If there is one single space where the image of the entire city can fit is this one. This cavernous, mega-structure is the paradigmatic Latin American institutional building, where the utopian and the dystopian meet. Literally, a few minutes after landing, I found myself walking inside this vertical, ‘rational’ slum, in the midst of thousand young bodies who were restlessly meandering under the expansive roof of this single, total building – A truly Argentine Phalanstery. After moving across endless corridors flanked by Kafka-in-steroids, dark bureaucratic offices and visually entertained by old and new revolutionary slogans, I reached a small window to finally see the landscape around me. (If a crime has many stories, most of them begin here) What I see in the distance is the city meeting with the Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic Ocean. I hear a voice behind me (a real voice): “…From here to there, the marshes below, these buildings are witnesses of the thousands of bodies that were dumped in the waters…” Where do the collective passions that a city emanates come from? They do not come from the autonomy of the author’s room nor in the heterogeneity of the flaneur’s sidewalks. They can actually unfold from a critical transit through a city’s (hi)stories, moving insurgently from generation to generation, the ‘20s, the ‘60s, now?- like a ball silently trafficked by the magic feet of Messi. I found these collective passions mirrored in the haudenschildGarage metropolitan caravan, hidden in the many stations along its trajectory across Buenos Aires and made visible through the chunks of history that the artists’ works recuperated in and out of each of those stations. And as it is the case with any event whose main intension is to generate multi-layered conversation and exchange, I also found these passions in the informal debates, that circulated around café cortado, bife de chorizo and chimichurri and through the wide and narrow streets of the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.
3. An Urbanism Made of Neighborhoods
A Crime Has Many Stories began with La Loca y el Relato del Crimen, a ‘70s piece of literature by Ricardo Piglia at MALBA, The Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires, located at the center of this city’s cultural promenades and ended with a newly commissioned crime story by Washington Cucurto in the alternative space of Eloisa Cartonera, an artist collaborative, in the heart of the working class neighborhood of La Boca. It is true what has been said, I thought, as I reflected on the ambition of this metropolitan cross-section filled with in-between artistic acts: That a city should not be defined any longer as the jurisdictional area bounded by its administrative borders, but, in fact, by the intensity of its limitless urban atmosphere, where the distinction between center and periphery dissolves in the voices of its multiple characters. Nor it can be encapsulated by the protagonism of its iconic monuments. Instead, it is the drama of its anti-monumental fringes what produces a more compelling idea of urbanization, made of unpredictable social spaces that emerge in the least expected places, where no symbolism is necessary, only available space. In fact, one of the most emblematic images that Borges catapulted as the privileged site for his early avant-garde literature was not the centrality of Buenos Aires as a city but its edges, where the city was no longer; the blur between the city and the Pampa. As such, I also found Buenos Aires resonating with The Naked City of Debord, as he fragmented the top-down totality of Paris into neighborhoods, conceived as units of ambience where the intensity of the urban would be found at unexpected thresholds, corners and vacant sites, and then amplified and translated, in turn, as every day artistic actions. Here, in the perennial Paris of Latin America this idea is even more tangible: The urbanism of neighborhoods in Buenos Aires usurps an otherwise homogeneous, at first glance, urban impression of this city as a continuous parkway flanked by an un-interrupted fabric of generic towers filled with endless balconies. It is in the interior of these urban crevices where A Crime Has Many Stories positioned itself, where fragments of literature, film and art are stuffed, mixed with the vestiges of political and social struggles and the subliminal feats of soccer players. It is the traffic and flow of these images that propelled the pages of Piglia’s Relato de un Crimen as the catalyst to invade the city.
4. From MALBA to the C.I.A.
The caravan moved from the pristine auditorium of MALBA where Ricardo Piglia read his text in a short film directed by Steve Fagin, to a small commercial space along Avenida Colon to witness the traces of the interior urbanism produced by artist Rosalba Mirabella, to the public interstices at the intersection of luxury condos, museums of fakes and urban slums at the Museo de Calcos, where Fernanda Laguna and Roberto Jacoby unveiled their own artistic copy, to Eloisa Cartonera’s La Boca workshop, where Washington Cucurto provided the book end and the contemporary spin to Piglia’s short story. And as we moved through these sites, we were moving through the cross-generational and spatial meandering of literature, art and film that has also produced this city. In essence, the recuperation of a fragment of literature, just to spill it back to contaminate other stories, conversations, artistic acts and places seems to me a more accurate definition of urbanity. This thought guided me through that intense rainy-day of the event, from the moment at MALBA where I saw Ricardo Piglia’s words being gently extracted from his lips by a camera, slowly filling an empty auditorium that was now filled with people. A story within the story, like Borges’ temporal trampoline that thrusts one forward and backward simultaneously, -yes- like the amazing image of Christ nailed to a F-15 of Ferrari I saw that morning on the second floor of this museum. Here, in this cultural expedition, art is rest-less as it wants to distribute itself through the unpredictability of the city. The drama of this unpredictability, for example, was tangibly manifested on artist Rosalba Mirabella’s work, as it unexpectedly mutated from its temporal occupation of a generic local on Avenida Colon (a space that would have been filled with her private traces of public images but burnt in an accidental fire just before the pilgrimage began) to the memory-filled dusty walls of Centro de Investigaciones Artisticas –C.I.A.- an experimental art center that is under construction, founded by Graciela Hasper, Judi Werthein, and Roberto Jacoby. Here, in the improvised occupation of the C.I.A., the project took a phenomenological detour: as the every day urban scratches of Mirabella’s work in the space of Avenida Colon disappeared into ashes, they were provisionally resurrected inside C.I.A.’s basement as a series of video narratives. Images of the burnt traces were projected on the walls and ironically reflected on a thin pool of water that had trickled into the room from a broken pipe inundating the floor before the audience arrived. As the audience moved randomly through the basement, between light projections of charred surfaces, Rosalba’s recorded narration and the plane of rainwater, the piece took a performatic dimension, suggesting again that in a true city the event is always nomadic and uncertain.
5. The Traffic of Fakes
The ubiquitous border that is deployed in every region between sectors of wealth and rings of poverty is reenacted in Buenos Aires, as the Recoleta neighborhood, one of the most glamorous zones of Buenos Aires, with its neoclassical grandeur and high real estate, is barely a few blocks away from a necklace of villas –working class urban shanties- which, different to other sites in Latin America, are not ‘on your face’ (slums in Caracas or Rio, are always visibly present on the slopes that surround those cities). Here they are carefully camouflaged by over-development, as these small Argentine slums are squeezed within transportation infrastructures or become transitional zones between more established official enclaves. So, in a sense the cultural traffic produced by A Crime Has Many Stories event, from MALBA, in the neighborhood of El Retiro, to the neighborhood of La Boca does not follow a straight line, connecting predictable destinations, but becomes a jagged pilgrimage across neighborhoods of display and consumption, production and labor and back. A careful choreography of artistic interventions into the spaces of a city can be a tactical tool for socialization, approximating formal and informal institutions. This is how we approached Puerto Madero, one of the most dramatic urban intersections I have ever seen, where many of these contrasting urban ecologies collide: casinos, luxury condos, environmentally protected park and a slum. To add one more layer to this zoning club sandwich, the third station of the pilgrimage was sited here: The small Museum of the Calcos, where a large collection of replicas of historic statuary is housed in a former leprosy hospital. The collection of copies inside the museum resonated with the huge array of urban replicas found outside, as faithful copies of the same typology of luxury condos that sprung all over the world during the pre-economic crisis boom are also re-deployed here, in this corner of Buenos Aires, to form the largely privatized homogeneous spaces of vertical gated communities and commercial malls that make the hyper gentrified enclave of Puerto Madero. It is at this blurred intersection between the fictional and the real where the project of Fernanda Laguna and Roberto Jacoby took me into another detour. As I entered the space, the sight of two tables filled with cheese and wine symmetrically arranged beneath the legs of Michelangelo’s David dominated the space, and immediately exposed the informality that the ‘copy’ offered, as we moved irreverently munching and sipping through the classics. Moving through a parade of fakes reminded me that originals do not exist but only the functional transference of their ‘useful’ meaning, and that, in this case, the close proximity of flesh bodies in motion touching the usually untouchable completed the functional aspect of this experience, closing the distance between the subliminal and the prosaic. In the middle of this theater, the artists began to speak of a circuit of donations and reproductions: They suggested that the choreography of capital and symbols become the material of the artist for the creation of agency. At this station of A Crime Has Many Stories, the expedition became promiscuous, transforming into many others. The legacy of any artistic intervention in the city, I thought, should be to enable other things to occur, beyond itself, leaving an institutional trace, a cultural platform of exchange where new social configurations can take place. This whole thing had become an orchestrated excuse to generate a new museum of reproductions in the marginal neighborhood of Fiorito, where, Maradona, the patron saint of Argentine soccer was born. This would be a neighborhood-based new Museo de Calcos that would bring together replicas of Maradona’s foot, Michelangelo’s David and Duchamp’s Fig Leaf as its foundational, collection pieces.
6. Where the City is no Longer
That rainy night it was disorienting to see Boca Junior’s stadium from the small streets that surround it. Not only it is unconceivable to find such a huge scaffold of popular culture smacked inside the small fabric of a neighborhood, but also its shape defies any perspective equation. The setback between this huge yellow structure and the first bar or house adjacent to it is so small that the perennial contrasting division between figure and ground (solid and empty spaces) represented in a city map is physically blurred here, mixing object and background and producing a strange continuous urban intercourse of houses, stadium, bars, stores, streets and alleys. I finally arrived to La Boca. This neighborhood is not only the home of the famous stadium of Boca Juniors, but I see it as a unique micro-heterotopia: an intense urbanism made of soccer fans. The caravan was to end in the counter-space to MALBA: Eloisa Cartonera’s workshop, where writer Washington Cucurto would read his crime story, outdoors, in the alley next to the home of this artists collaborative. As the rain continued, making it impossible for the crowd to occupy the street, one more act of improvisation cemented the idea in my mind that a real city will always resist the control of planned destiny. As the mixed smell of chorizo and wet pavement was in the air, people began to drift into the second floor of a nearby fire station (These probably were the same fire trucks that came to the futile rescue of Mirabella’s space in Avenida Colon). How ironically appropriate it was that the pilgrimage was ending up there, above the firemen, in a community hall that was quickly improvised as a performance space for Cucurto’s reading of El Hijo, and later into a dining hall and a dance floor. The story that Piglia read that morning, I thought, is already emblematic of the city’s mythical aura, but the story that Cucurto was reading now at the end of the day is still grounded here in the life of this neighborhood and others like it, resisting its mutation into some kind of metropolitan cultural icon. Here, the story does not want to be owned by the author yet, but wants to remain a little longer in the collective voices of its social actors and the collaborative efforts of its producers: Eloisa Cartonera, Cucurto and the others. Aldo Rossi, the famous Italian architect, once described the Punta della La Dogana in Venice (the lonely, small building that ends in a sharp corner against the grand canal), as the site where the city ends and the irrational begins. This final station in A Crime Has Many Stories produced the same feeling. This is the place where the generic city ends -understanding that the contemporary city has been shifting from being the ideal laboratory of artistic experimentation into a passive site of display and consumption- and the new neighborhood begins: Re-conceived as contemporary culture’s privileged site of artistic production. The social salon above the firemen was by now filled with bodies, and in the midst of choripans, projections of the day’s actions already turned memories and the sound of cumbia, everyone, I mean everyone, began to dance. Eloisa and Steve did it again, I thought, blurring the line between enabler and producer, they brought together high and low, sacred and profane, the consolidated and the emergent to momentarily commingle in unselfish exchange: A carnaval where everyone is a participant and the everyday has kidnapped art without asking for ransom.
—Teddy Cruz, 2009
Teddy Cruz http://estudioteddycruz.com/ was born in Guatemala City. He obtained a Master’s in Design Studies at Harvard University in 1997 and established his research-based architecture practice in San Diego, California in 2000. He has been recognized internationally for his urban research of the Tijuana-San Diego border, and in collaboration with community-based nonprofit organizations such as Casa Familiar, for his work on affordable housing in relationship to an urban policy more inclusive of social and cultural programs for the city. In 1991 he received the prestigious Rome Prize in Architecture and in 2005 he was the first recipient of the James Stirling Memorial Lecture On The City Prize, by the Canadian Center of Architecture and the London School of Economics. In 2008 he was selected to represent the US in the Venice Architecture Biennial and he is currently a Professor in public culture and urbanism in the Visual Arts Department at University of California, San Diego.
Monica Jovanovich: Daily Dispatches from Buenos Aires
I arrived in Buenos Aires the morning of the 21st to a bustling city and heat bordering on stifling. Eloisa would arrive the following morning and Steve, Wednesday morning. Little did we know how many "stories" were waiting for us in the days leading up to our event on Saturday the 29th...
Nov 21 FRIDAY - "Everything's lost"
Around midnight, I received a phone call from Rosalba Mirabella, one of our artists involved in the project who I was meeting in the morning with curator Sonia Becce. Rosalba had been in Buenos Aires, a transplant Tucuman, for the last two months working in a rented loft on Paseo Colon. She had just finished her project (slowly painting the walls, furniture, etc of her apartment with her experience of the city) but through a horrible turn of events Friday afternoon, her place caught fire and burned completely. Nothing was left of her work or of the loft, in her words "there's been a terrible accident, everything's lost." Luckily they were able to escape unharmed and with a video camera but with little else.
So now we needed to not only help them recover from the fire but also find a new space for her and push forward with another manifestation of her project "La despedida escrita en el espejo"...
Nov 22 SATURDAY - Mapas y Chorizos
After trouble shooting the problem of Rosalba in the morning, Eloisa, Rita, Alejandro and I went to the opening of Fundacion PROA's new building in La Boca. Around the corner, just two blocks from Boca Junior's stadium, La Bombonera, is Eloisa Cartonera and we stopped by to say hello and check on the progress of our catalogs and survival kits. Eloisa Cartonera is a literary collective who publishes stories by well known Latin American authors and makes their 5 to 10 peso books from recycled cardboard bought from the cartoneros. What we saw was very impressive and added another layer to the project. Next door is the pizzeria who will cater the event's closing party - 1000 chorizos and 1000 empandas! This pizzeria is the same who feed the thousands of fans who walk by on their way to La Bombonera...
Nov 25 TUESDAY - In the forecast for Saturday: Soccer and Rain
Today we had multiple meetings from our "home base" at Malba's cafe. We first saw Alejandro to go over the logistics of the reading and closing party in La Boca. We had hoped to close down one of the streets and set up a small stage for the reading of Cucurto's commissioned story, El Hijo. But Alejandro came with the news that a lat minute soccer game had been scheduled for Saturday at La Bombonera and 40,000 people were going to be walking through our exact location. We were told that if the police saw a stage set up they would demand it be taken down immediately as we didn't have the proper permits at the moment. Luckily, Alejandro knew what to do and looked at it positively - this soccer match closed the streets of La Boca down for us. We now only had to think about how deal with the stage problem...
After Alejandro, Eloisa and I met with Ana Goldman and Guadalupe Requena of Malba to look at the auditorium where we will begin the event and show Piglia's video. Amparo and Teo Discoli, a brother and sister team, with their associate Francisca Mancini met us later that afternoon to go over our press plans for the project. Later, Juan Cruz from the video company Ahorita Nomas stopped by to have a meeting to go over our video needs for Saturday.
Nov. 26 WEDNESDAY - Spaghetti in La Boca
Eloisa Cartonera invited all of us over for a spaghetti lunch. One of the members, La Osa, had proudly made special t-shirts for us and over lunch we talked about the logistics of Saturday's event. Eloisa and Alejandro bravely went to meet with the local police chief of La Boca to get his permission to allow us to set up a small platform. Slowly, while sitting in a five hundred degree office, they came to an understanding and we're all hopeful that Alejandro's negotiating skills will smooth things over.
Nov. 27 THURSDAY - A Place for Rosalba
This morning Alejandro, Sebsatian, Steve, Eloisa, Rosalba, her husband Patricio and I met Judi Werthein to look at her space as a possibility for Rosalba's project. It turned out to be exactly perfect! A dark, partially sunken garage with a variety of elements strewn about... The project now will be three videos shown at the same time throughout the space with chipas and sodas to accompany. Next we moved on to meet Roberto Jacoby at Museo de Calcos y Escultura Comparada "Ernesto de la Carcova". Judi was to accompany but, another unexpected story, while driving over the wheel on her car flew off! Luckily she put Jacoby in a cab along with all the project sculptures.
Nov. 29 SATURDAY - Flooding in the streets
After months of planning and multiple obstacles, the day finally arrived and we spent the morning assembling Survival Kits, wrapping chipas, and changing the address and colectivo lines on the maps everyone would use during the event. The excitement grew as we arrived at Malba and saw the mounting crowd outside the auditorium. Maria and Osa from Eloisa Cartonera were busy adding the final touches to the chocolate candies which represented Fernanda and Roberto's project in the Survival Kits (they made sure to have Boca Junior colors as the ties for the bags of chocolate).
The presentation and Ricardo Piglia's video at Malba set the tone for the event but as we emerged energized from the auditorium - we were confronted with a wall of heavy rain! For the hour we were inside, it had been pouring and the streets were slowly becoming flooded. No one wanted to be the first to run through the rain to get on the Escolares buses but someone had to start it and one by one, people were escorted by the few umbrellas we had to the buses. Finally on the buses, we braved water logged streets and made it to Rosalba's space in Palermo and then to Fernanda and Jacoby's space at Museo del Calcos.
It was there that Eloisa Haudenschild got "the call" from Alejandro saying that Boca was too flooded for the reading and closing party to be outside and they hurried to find an alternative place. Miraculously, one block away was the La Boca fire station which had a large (and dry) ballroom which was quickly transformed for the last stop of the event. Everyone present helped - cleaning, arranging, decorating, moving food and drinks, and setting up the stage and lighting. By the time the buses arrived after stopping at Eloisa Cartonera's shop, the room had been reborn - fresh empanadas were being passed, beer was being poured and the band was playing on stage. Cucurto and the members of Eloisa Cartonera performed his commissioned story and as the event moved into the closing party, we thought back over the last ten days and all the "stories" that our project had. As people danced and ate chorizos, we felt that despite fire, rain and everything else thrown at us we persevered and created an unforgettable event.
Francisca Mancini: Chronicle of a Commissioned Crime: "C" Day, Arte Magazine
Buenos Aires, December 2008
Date: Saturday, November 29th, 2008
Activity: Project Presentation
Heat, a lot of heat, tropical heat. Heavy and uncertain weather.
–Do you know what this is about?
–No, I'm not sure, I think we're going to follow the clues of a crime.
The line in front of the auditorium grew as the appointed hour approached. We all wanted to know the same thing: What would happen the rest of the afternoon? What was this all about?
The doors open and we all enter, one by one, filing past the T-shirts and catalogues by Eloisa Cartonera that were exhibited on stands.
The presentation begins: In their disorderly excitement, the organizers attempt to explain what we will be doing for the rest of the day. Four years ago, Eloisa Haudenschild, an Argentine living in the United States, founded an artistic platform known as the haudenschildGarage, from which she commissions and finances artistic projects that take place in different locations around the world. For the first time, the destination was Buenos Aires. The project of A Crime Has Many Stories had as its starting point a text by Ricardo Piglia titled The Madwoman and the Story of the Crime. It was co-curated by Judi Werthein and Sonia Becce, and called together Rosalba Mirabella, Roberto Jacoby, Fernanda Laguna and Washington Cucurto. The artists came up with urban interventions that would guide us on this journey through the city and that would end at a street party in front of Eloisa Cartonera publishers, which had been in charge of the catalogue. They introduce us to the artists responsible for our destiny as they announce a change in plans: one of the locations we were supposed to visit had burned down the day before and they had relocated it elsewhere. The first crime? The prospect was rather unsettling and adrenaline-charged.
A map of Buenos Aires appears on the auditorium screen while they inform us that they are going to hand out survival kits. The sense of calm that the explanations given by organizers Steve Fagin, Eloisa Haudesnchild and Monica Jovanovich had given the audience suddenly dissolved. Survival kit? What's that? Survive what? What do you mean a place burned down?
The image of Ricardo Piglia's mouth (the neighborhood and his mouth at the same time!) reading his story on the auditorium screen signaled the beginning of the journey.
Torrential downpour. The street was deserted and all the participants stared at the buses that had been placed at our disposal to take us from one point to another, with our noses stuck to the glass doors of the museum that nobody dared cross. While waiting, we all searched the contents of the survival kit with the hope of finding something waterproof. Some discovered in the chipás a good way of calming their anxiety.
The situation at this point was worthy of Un chien andalou–all of us soaked, traveling in school buses through flooded streets without street lights, to arrive at Rosalba Mirabella's (new) space.
Location: Space in Tucumán and Salguero.
Activity: Artist Rosalba Mirabella's piece.
The rain had taken pity on us, and had decided to stop. Once inside the garage, set up the day before, we found ourselves before the artist's intervention. Two giant screens simultaneously projected images of the previous location and the original installation. On a table set up like a memorial, were the charred remains of what had once been the artist's computer. Many of the participants kept on eating chipás, storing nutrients in case of another catastrophe or a crime, an attitude that given the circumstances seemed very logical to me.
19:00 Hours: Following the clues we board the collective speedboats again and head toward the southern coastline.
Location: Museo de Calcos
Activity: Piece by artists Fernanda Laguna and Roberto Jacoby.
For many it was our first time at the Museo the Calcos Ernesto de la Cárcova. Taking this situation into account, the artists had selected a guide to give us a tour. We then entered a gallery where there were bundles covered with sheets and a projector.
Laguna and Jacoby had decided to make a donation of sculptural works to the new headquarters of the Beauty and Happiness space at Villa Fiorito. The crime of forgery of works of art was redeemed by authorized copies and tracings, and master Duchamp's seal of approval.
20:30 Hours: Once again aboard the (by now) well-loved buses, we depart for La Boca. Anxious to see Eloisa Cartonera and to hear Washington Cucurto, who would be giving a live reading.
Location: Headquarters of the Eloisa Cartonera cooperative, La Boca
Activity: Washington Cucurto's reading. Party at Eloisa Cartonera.
We got off at the stop, one of the most alluring of the day for many, and we came across another unforeseen event that, among the participants and in honor of the project, we had termed a "crime". This new "crime", also caused by the rains, would take us, following a tour and introduction to the activities of the Eloisa Cartonera collective, to the fireman's ballroom in La Boca: the new location designated for the party, since doing it outdoors, as was originally intended, would have been a real crime of colds and pneumonias.
After waiting a few minutes next to the fire engines, we went up to the first floor where we met with Cucurto's reading, two live cumbia bands, choripanes, and local neighbors to celebrate the end (?) of the day. As a keepsake, Cucurto's story The Son.
The shortest distance between two points is never a straight line.
Tomas Espina: Coverage of A Crime Has Many Stories, Pagina 12
Below is an excerpt from Tomás Espina's Pagina 12 (December 2008) article discussing Roberto Jacoby and Fernanda Laguna's project Donacions which was part of the haudenschildGarage, Spare Parts project A Crime Has Many Stories.
El Museo del Calco está ubicado en la Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes Ernesto de la Cárcova, a pasos de la reserva ecológica. Allí se albergan cientos de calcos de esculturas de diferentes épocas de la historia. Parte de la mística de este museo es que todas las piezas están distribuidas por los salones sin un criterio cronológico, sin distinción de estilos ni épocas. Como en una suerte de jeroglífico donde se mezclan todas las culturas, uno puede pasear por las salas como si atravesara de una sola vez cientos de años de historia, y si va silencioso nunca sabrá qué vino antes o después en esa madeja anacrónica.
A ese museo donde el tiempo parecía estar congelado ingresó una pieza muy particular: una réplica de una obra emblemática de Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968). Feuille de vigne Femelle –que puede verse por estos días en la muestra de la Fundación Proa en La Boca– es ahora parte del acervo del museo del calco.
El proyecto comisionado por el haudenschildGarage fue llevado a cabo por Fernanda Laguna y Roberto Jacoby y es parte de una iniciativa que tiene como contrapunto otra interesante arista. Pero antes hay que saber que esta obra de Duchamp es de por sí un molde (supuestamente es el negativo de una vagina) hecho en yeso y policromado. En el prólogo de El punto de vista anacrónico George Didi-Huberman dice respecto de esta pieza: “En estos objetos no hay nada que mirar porque tampoco hay invención formal, y no hay invención formal, porque son solo muestras, huellas –la no obra por excelencia”. Según leyes aún vigentes, los moldes hechos del natural no pueden tener derechos de autoría, o sea no pueden ser registradas como obra de alguien. Entonces, esta pieza legalmente no puede ser considerada obra. Ahora bien, también sabemos que desde Duchamp es ridículo pensar (por más leyes vigentes y prejuicios que existan) que eso no es una obra de arte. Duchamp mismo hizo más de 50 réplicas de esta pieza (en yeso y en bronce) y todas ellas son consideradas no sólo obras de arte sino también originales. Además, según Duchamp, no existen las copias, toda obra es original.
Entonces al ingresar esta obra al museo del calco, se abren dos opciones. O bien podemos pensar que es la única de las cincuenta y tantas réplicas que no es original y es la primera “copia” de Feuille de vigne Femelle que hay en el mundo (cosa que sería absurda siendo que es una obra de Duchamp). O podemos pensar que a partir de ahora todas las esculturas que conforman el museo del calco pasan a ser obras de arte originales. El David, Nike de Samotracia, los retratos romanos, las tumbas, los relieves precolombinos, etc: todas las réplicas que conforman el acervo del museo del calco, después de Duchamp, pasan a ser obras de arte originales. En ese punto es fascinante el legado que nos dejó este artista que (si queremos) aun hoy en día puede seguir desquiciando las nociones de autoría y originalidad que podamos tener sobre cualquier obra.
El proyecto de Laguna y Jacoby comprende una segunda instancia (o primera, da igual: fueron simultáneas) que también sugiere un corrimiento en cuanto al origen u originalidad de una obra. Como contrapunto de este proyecto el Museo del Calco donó cinco calcos “originales” de obras históricas al Centro Cultural Belleza y Felicidad de Villa Fiorito. Una cabeza de Buda del siglo XII, una cabeza de Palas Atenea en versión romana del siglo III, un fragmento del David de Miguel Angel, una cabeza de Cristo del período románico y una de Afrodita del período clásico griego. Todas estas piezas formarán ahora parte del Centro Cultural.
Entre las cinco piezas donadas hay una que es quizás el protagonista de esta acción: el fragmento de la escultura del David de Miguel Angel. El pie izquierdo, el pie que casi no se apoya del héroe que venció a Goliat hace miles de años, será emplazado en un espacio público a la entrada de Villa Fiorito.
Si hay algo de lo que el arte es capaz es de desarticularse y a su vez desarticularnos. Cualquier obra se hace con el que la piensa y la mira, y allí no se sabe nunca qué pasara. Sin embargo, arriesgo una hipótesis: como todos sabemos quién fue el héroe que nació en Villa Fiorito, no sería raro pensar que ese pie izquierdo llegue a ser un símbolo muy diferente del que pueda tener en cualquier otro lugar del mundo. Ese pie no sólo pasará a ser un punto de encuentro para los que visitan y habitan la Villa, sino también seguramente será una suerte de homenaje a un héroe nacional muy lejano en el tiempo al David y sin embargo muy cercano en sus características.
Justina Canton: The Itinerary of a Crime, EPU Magazine
Buenos Aires, December 2008
The shortest distance between two points is never a straight line, at least on this occasion. The invitation was more than tempting: we were going to be a part of an urban intervention organized by the haudenschildGarage for the first time in Buenos Aires. It began at the Malba at 16:30 and ended at a party in Boca. And at the foot of the convening email a mysterious and inciting postscript: “With your RSVP we will provide you with a ‘Survival Kit’ for your itinerary made by Eloisa Cartonera.” We headed over there without delay.
First things first: A Crime Has Many Stories is an exquisite cadaver project commissioned and produced by Eloisa Haudenschild and Steve Fagin of the haudenschildGarage. It is based on The Madwoman and the Story of a Crime (1975), the short story by Ricardo Piglia that takes place in Buenos Aires, and was cooked up by co-conspirators Judi Werthein, Sonia Becce and Alejandro Ruiz. Piglia’s text generated two site-specific works and a short story commissioned from Argentine writer Washington Cucurto.
In May 2008 the haudenschildGarage traveled to Buenos Aires to meet with its curatorial assessment committee. Argentine curator Sonia Becce and Argentine artist Judi Werthein selected a group of artists for the project working in installation, photography and video. From this group, the haudenschildGarage and Alejandro Ruiz selected the artists Roberto Jacoby, Fernanda Laguna and Rosalba Mirabella.
“The goal of this project is to generate a dynamic event that takes place across literature, art and the city. Our hope, in bringing together artists from the 1960s with young artists working today, and blurring the border between literature and plastic arts, is to ‘interpret’ the continuity and sphere of Argentine culture in all its richness. We believe that the role of Latin America and Argentina in general has been enormously underestimated, and we hope that this event, in a modest way, will support the growing awareness of the quality and specificity of Argentina’s current and historical contributions to world culture. This project is dedicated to the wisdom, the energy and the generous spirit of debate that Olivier Debroise (1952-2008) provided us with as regards Latin American culture. We wish to continue that path with our project,” says Eloisa Haudenschild of the haudenschildGarage.
The chronicle of our itinerant Saturday begins at the reception in the Malba auditorium. The clan of Eloisa Cartonera and Cucurto arranges the survival kits they put together to guide us during our voyage. The guests begin perusing some colored books laid out on the tables. One after the other, we arrive and settle into the seats of the museum’s auditorium. A video and the projected image of Ricardo Piglia; a soundtrack and the reading of The Madwoman and the Story of a Crime by the author himself seated before us: “Overweight, spread-out, melancholy, the green fil-a-fil nylon suit…” he began. What was supposed to come out of all this? I was seated and felt myself an accomplice. I thought I was supposed to decipher who had committed a crime. Was I a spectator? Victim? Detective? I was a witness. A movable feast of food and culture was given free reign.
I put my hand inside the kit and find a printed map of the tour. Five minutes had passed since the end of the first action, that of the story. And aboard a school bus we were about to begin tracing the map route on our way to the second stop. Take your place everybody, and suddenly we were preschool buddies again.
Sure enough, there were unforeseen events. The first, a downpour that was neither in the program notes nor at the following destination. Furthermore, a correction had been made to the map. It so happened that Rosalba Mirabella had spent two months preparing a crime in one of the city’s apartments, two months of work with a lot of paper and a lot of stories, and the crime arrived in the guise of fire. Yes gentleman, the apartment burned down just one week before our visit. So then we found ourselves in a garage with two huge telling screens on which Rosalba constantly described what the apartment was like, and on the other one she was there in silence.
Meanwhile, sodas and more chipás. Next are Jacoby, Laguna and Judi. We were at the C.I.A. (Center for Investigations on Art). Outside the rain continues. I don’t know what time it was, as I had surrendered to the experience; I think we all had. And once again we piled into the bus. On this trip friends seemed better acquainted or there was more familiarity. The streets were wet, the windows foggy, and in the chaos of the transit-weather the fire engines showed up. Sirens, traffic lights, and another flourish in the map that takes us to the Museo de Calcos. Calcos: I thought of cartoons–I am such an ignoramus! A place full of sculptures, replicas, the majestic David at the door, the Pietà at our right, all the masters together in one gallery. The sculptures, the feast of cheese and wine, and the unceasing rain.
And suddenly it was time to depart for the last stop in Boca. It was pouring rain, our destination was flooding, and I hear Steve Fagin say: “This is epic, first came the fire, now comes the water…” We were experiencing the legacy, the passage from the seemingly the same to a world of difference, as intended by the duo Laguna-Jacoby. Now it was Eloisa Cartonera’s turn: a magical place full of colors and words, books everywhere, and the water that took us to an additional destination: thanks to the kindness of the neighborhood firemen we moved into their headquarters ballroom. That’s how The Son comes about, a recently commissioned detective story by author Washington Cucurto, written in response to Ricardo Piglia’s story. And this time it was being read by Eloisa Cartonera’s art collective. And there were children running around and people listening. It was the moment of the final touch: free reign to the power of cumbia, beer, wine, empanadas and choripán; and everybody dancing until midnight struck and the school bus took us home. Exquisite!
Diego Erlan: The Artwork Killer, Clarin Magazine
Buenos Aires, December 2008
The audience prepares for the excursion. Ricardo Piglia's story already happened: the video-projected reading of The Madwoman and the Story of a Crime that was seen at the Malba auditorium last Saturday that began with a close-up image of the writer's mouth and ended with the figure of Piglia, in the distance, in an empty and dark auditorium. The presentation of A Crime Has Many Stories is over, the "exquisite cadaver" project that collector Eloisa Haudenschild had been preparing for almost a year along with film director Steve Fagin and the collaboration of Alejandro Ruiz, Judi Werthein and Sonia Becce within the framework of the haudenschildGarage, a platform that seeks "cultural experimentation, play and conversation". The explanation for the goal of this project has already occurred: "to generate a dynamic event that takes place across literature, art and the city". Some of the participating artists have already gone up on stage: from Roberto Jacoby and the Tucumán-born artist Rosalba Mirabella, to Washington Cucurto and the troupe of Eloisa Cartonera publishers, that had set up a kiosk with T-shirts and books at the entrance of the space and was in charge of putting together the catalog of the event. The "survival kit" has already been presented, which those assisting will receive to begin a journey that will take them from the museum to a abandoned garage on Tucumán Street, from there to the Museo de Calcos, and finally to La Boca. But when the audience spills out of the auditorium enthused, it encounters the rain, a gray wall that looks like a huge blank television screen. "Deluge in Buenos Aires," announces the radio. Avello's luminous work in the museum esplanade is at the red limit due to the thunder and the water that drenches the wood. Suddenly those assisting search the damn survival kit for something that will help them survive the weather. There is a map, some chipás, but no raincoat. Not even a plastic supermarket bag to improvise with. The most adventurous of the lot make a run for the school buses parked in front.
At nightfall the event will conclude with the reading of The Son (El Hijo) the haudenschildGarage commissioned story by Cucurto, but before that, the first stop. The abandoned garage on Tucumán Street. Peeling walls, water-logged corners, darkness. There, artist Rosalba Mirabella asks a woman as blonde as she is what she thinks of the piece. "It's perfect, cousin," says the blonde woman. "I'm serious, look, I'm getting goose bumps," says the blonde woman without averting her eyes from the screens that show different images of the apartment where Mirabella worked for a month and twenty five days, an apartment located in San Telmo that now appears to be destroyed. This isn't the original piece. "I didn't want to talk about the piece I was working on, the piece I lost, or about what happened," the Tucumán-born artist told me. But one finds out: a fire destroyed her piece. All of her work. All that is left are the three screens that show the remains of the apartment, a close-up of the artist facing the camera, describing the place, and a third off to the side that shows her staring at the ground. "The only thing left is a wrecked laptop," she says and points to a corner. A charred Olivetti resting on a wooden box. Nobody says anything, but those returning to the school buses to continue with the excursion know who the guilty party is. Who killed the work of art. Rosalba also knows, but she doesn't say. That much is clear.
Villa Fiorito: The Next Chapter in A Crime Has Many Stories
Donations, Fernanda Laguna and Roberto Jacoby's project for A Crime Has Many Stories, was completed in early December. The replicas Laguna and Jacoby created were selected from the Museo de Calcos' collection and given to the Belleza y Felicidad (ByF) art space in the community of Fiorito, a small town outside Buenos Aires. ByF Fiorito, open since 2003, functions as a workshop and art center for local children.
Below are photos of the installation and videos of their presentation at the Museo de Calcos on Novembe 29 2008 and transfer of the pieces to Villa Fiorito on December 2, 2008 as part of the haudenschildGarage project A Crime Has Many Stories.
About the Participants
Ricardo Piglia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricardo_Piglia
Eloisa Haudenschild http://www.haudenschildgarage.com/about-us
Steve Fagin http://visarts.ucsd.edu/faculty/steve-fagin
Monica Jovanovich https://www.linkedin.com/in/monica-jovanovich-kelley-2a97b627/
Alejandro Ruiz https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alejandro_Ruiz
Judi Werthein http://www.latinart.com/faview.cfm?id=928
Fernanda Laguna https://www.artsy.net/artist/fernanda-laguna
Eloísa Cartonera https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elo%C3%ADsa_Cartonera
Rosalba Mirabella http://www.rosalbamirabella.com/a.html
Event photography by Jorge Mino, Matias Roth, Nicolas Bovia Group, Rita Haudenschild and Monica Jovanovich. Event video by Juan Cruz Saenz of Ahortia Nomas Producciones & Alejandro Correa Studio.