Written texts for Steve
Does the Sun shine in Argentina?
The main project I am developing is related to writing. It is based on letters my Aunt sent to her mother between the year 1968 and 1993 At the moment I am in a process of translating Eventually I would like to edit them into a more musical shape.
I want to make it clear that I do not hold resentment towards anyone. I am 18 years old, you always saw me as a kid, but nobody, absolutely nobody knows who I am. It seems as if I had a split personality, strange isn't it? But that's how it is. I'm leaving because Buenos Aires has absolutely drained me, I can't stand being here anymore. Don't worry I'll try to have the best time possible. Mother, don't think that I'm going with Horacio or that he convinced me of this, not at all, he didn't. Despite what you think, he's a great guy (At least he has feelings, which is very important) Where I go, I know a man, you will wonder from where, well from the office, he is a good guy. The remaining clothes I shall come and get them some other day. Adriana- I don't think I'm going to lose you as a sister or as a friend - don't let me down, I'll write to you and I hope you do too. I'm going to miss you a lot, sugar, like it's happening to me lately. My clothes if you want to use them, just take them, whatever is mine is yours too. I would like to say goodbye but I'm sorry, I'm not going to be able to see you, I send you a big kiss. Well, I have nothing else to say to anyone, do not worry about the family's comments, make something up.
Dear mom: On Friday I received your letter, I'm glad you had a good mother's day. Berta and I are dating two handsome dudes, you don't have an idea how macho and smart they are, I love both of them. Mine is called Juan Carlos Scienca, we go to the theater, cinema. Oh! ... we also went to a Chinese exhibition and one of Chilean prints that were just a poem! Yesterday we went to ¨El cajó Maipo¨, it is choro (bewitching) and (mesmerising), it is an immense waterfall between two mountains that later on conform the Maipo river. We arrived at 10 (night) we made a beautiful bonfire (It was cold as fuck), very small snowflakes were falling because it is very high. We took roast chicken, cheese, salami, bread and wine (I don't know if you are aware that the amount of wine I drink is impressive and I don't get drunk), sparkling water is not used here to lower the alcohol. What soda, I'd better say, what a wine! I assure you it has no comparison. Well, as I was saying, we were there eating, dancing and chatting, the four of us are very close, we left there at 1:30 am. Brrrrrrrr what a freezing night. We arrived to Santiago, always in a car, logical, it is Juan Carlos´, an Austin (this place is 40 minutes away) So, what do you think? This is really my life, the one I always wanted, although it may seem bad to you I assure you that in everything I do, say and think there is no wrong. Well Mommy, for Adriana, tell her that I'm going to send her the atomic bomb by mail, I want to know one thing: Does she have paralysis in her fingers or what? If she doesn't write to me now, tell her not to write to me again and now for real, it's not a joke. Mamina kisses and greetings to all Your daughter Cris P.S. Write soon.
Santiago 8 - 11 - 68
Hi girl! I just received your letter and I was very happy because I had not heard from you for several days. This, I assure you, is an earthly paradise (apart from all the political mess) I'm glad you're well and the old man has won some lucas (bucks). I really changed a lot, physically and mentally, maybe you can get an idea through more letters. My hair grew a lot and I am still blonde, since the paint is not very expensive, Makeup, I have, and I lost a kilo, I grew 2 cm. If I continue like this I do not know how far I will go (weight 55 kg., height 1.71 m) This is a llesera (it means great) and mentally I am more mature and I recognize it. That is the thing I am most proud of. Regarding work (big words) some lawyer friends got me to enter advertising. It is good and at the same time bad because you have to fregarlos (that is, to screw people over). Well that's the advertising world…. Juan Carlos is 24 years old, he is my height, blue eyes, very manly, he is serious when he should be, he dances very well, he has money, he is good looking, well and THE AUSTIN, it is a sport mdoel. Ah…. Why ask for anything else right? I am very angry with my sister, she should write to me 1st because she owes me an answer- Kisses for you and daddy Chris.
Porto Alegre 7-3-69
Mãe !: Yesterday I received your letter and the photos, you are look very well, always bem bacana (amazing) I received all the letters from Vocês (you). Here's the bombshell news, I'm falling in love (dating a cara (guy)) I'm super apaixonada (In love) I started going out with him on the thirteen of March of 1969. His name is Josué Carlos Calarte Tabares. He is the living portrait of Atilio Horacio (that loser… of the Silver car) We understand each other super well - (I hope you don't give me more advice, (that I should take care of me and else, understood?)
Bom- I'm working at the University of Economics (I'm secretary of the Board). $ 20,000 for 4 hours from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. And I want to start working tomorrow to earn more money and arrumar (rent) an apt. - despois I would leave the one from the University. On Saturday or the day after tomorrow I go to Pelotas com Zé (my boyfriend) (his name is pronounced like a buzz zzzzzzzzz) to Fausto and Vera's noivado party (noivado is engagement) Mommy, why don't you study Portuguese? It is super interesting. I made a saia (long skirt) for myself. I am super stylish - I am very successful with everyone (everybody) adores me. Ah! I forgot, on Saturday Fausto is going to put a super cumprida (long) wig on me. Here comes a piece of news in this letter, at the beginning, I mention a man's name, well in a few days or so, more or less on the 13th I WILL GET ENGAGED, whether you believe it or not –and with an alliance ring! What do you say? We are not going to have a party or anything, so I do not invite you, it is no longer used on the dia de noivado (engagement day) and we are going to go out with all the fusma (group of friends) to party and nothing else - I already started to receive gifts, little ones, because our friends are all students. Z ’is 22 years old, he works, he’s, he’is, he’s... AMAZING. Give me your opinion and NOT your advice. The party of Faust and Vera was fantastic, sensational. Well Mommy, greetings to all of you from your filha
Porto Alegre 5-21-69
Dear mom: I received your letter and the photos are amazing! The girls from Brazil praised daddy. What I found is that everyone is fat. If you see me, which I think will be soon, don't be scared. Well, I'm super magra (thin) 52 ½ kg. As you know, I walked as a model. Regarding the money, I really also need now, the sooner the better. I did not want to tell you but I have to say. Don't be scared but I lost too much weight (I did a regimen for the parade) and they told me I'm fine but weakened. I was working in the University of Economics but the Director made strike and they didn't pay me (there was an fraud on the part of the students, that is, the University gave them money and they spent more than they should have) they made this defalcation, and since I worked with them, bye bye, well... When you send the money it has to be in dollars, mommy, don't forget, send it soon. Tell everyone to write to me because no one answers my letters - Dany or Adriana - I say goodbye to you. A Beijo Cris P.S. Send soon and write.
Quique's mother sent him a letter today in which he tells us of the mess in Buenos Aires, bombs everywhere? And what about Mirtha Legrand? They sent Quique the news. I want you to tell me everything that happens there. Here today it rains and it is very cold. The other day they also put a bomb here (injured people and bla bla bla) I saw The last tango in Paris (very good) really the Argentine censorship is a b...shit! Here there is no censorship of any kind, neither in cinema, nor in newspapers or TV, that is invaluable, ALL FREEDOM.
Paris, April 22, 1975
Hello mam! At last you are going to stop bothering me with this, you have A SON IN LAW! You like it? Now what are you going to trouble me with! Grandchildren, not even in dreams for the moment unless you send us 1,000,000 bucks every month, Europe is very expensive! Changing the subject: I tell you I had surgery on my ear and they made me an aesthetic one. What do you think? Tremendous surgery I had, just think I was on a stretcher and naked. C. Mast (the first married signature) P.S. Do not stop writing. You do it very well and your handwriting has improved.
Dear Adriana: After much waiting, yes waiting, I received your letter, because one day you said painful things to me (that is already in the past) and that was why I did not write to you. I never would have thought (it's true) that you could write a letter like the one you wrote - thank you, I needed it - it gave me courage and strength to continue with the conviction that I have and had. It is possible that I was wrong, to be honest I think I actually was, but I think it was due to the great loneliness that I always felt at home. I always felt it until the day I left. I think that if I had not met Riquet, who pulled out of the well, I would have gone crazy. You have to hear, understand people or not, never judge them, take them, accept them as they are or leave them. It is today that I think that you still do not know me, I mean, it may be that you do now. You grew up! At last! And you stopped being that innocent woman useless for this society in which we live. I already know what happened to you, but I'm going to let you tell me out of your own free will. Not in vain I am 25.
Finally! Mom, don't tell me you don't have time to write, at least to know about Mathieu. I am so angry, what a family of… ! I think you have a lush imagination, right? You have to be more direct, like me. At least you know what I think. If we wanted you to travel it was only so that the ticket does not expire. The rest is all your imagination. Think whatever you want. Let's see if you write, ok? If you continue like this, it seems to me that you are going to isolate yourself from the world, don't you think?
Paris, April 16, 1984
If there were possibilities in Argentina, I swear to you that I would be gou (how horrendous the orthographic mistakes). I am done with the French, the climate seems not to, but there is nothing to do, the homeland is always calling. The boy I live with is divine, well, but too young. Lauren, he is called, but there is no case we do not click. He has no initiatives, I am quite bored, but for the moment I will keep him. Anyway we'll see. I know it is a disaster over there but please find out how much it is for a rent and jobs, cost, etc. Maybe I would go with Laurent, I don't know, I'm a little confused. But I'm fed up here, they are so different. Write to me soon and you know, with 2 boys the mess that it is and even more when you are alone and you have to manage all the same. Anyway ... I send a kiss for everyone. Cris
Marly le Roi, 20 Julliet 1993 How about mom! We live in a divine place 100 meters from the continuation of the Versailles park. You can tell Adriana, I wrote several times and to the little ones and no news. This is it, really looking forward to go to Argentina but I don't think so, not for now. Dear Nelly: How are you? We haven't seen each other for so long. I hope your health is good. Does the sun shine in Argentina? Maybe we'll see each other one day when I visit you. I really liked the drawings of Tamarita and Ariella I send you a big kiss Olivier
In October 1993 my grandmother Nelly died and a few months later my aunt came to arrange inheritance issues. I remember a few things from those days. She and her two children stayed in my room. My mom was mad because my cousins were jumping on my bed and my aunt was doing nothing to stop it. He taught me that in Paris they painted their fingernails with transparent polish and their toenails in red. I know that after that meeting, they never spoke to each other again. Cristina died at the age of sixty-eight from internal bleeding in her throat. They found her thanks to her neighbors who reported a bad smell that came from her apartment.
After being asked to write a synopsis of whichever cultural production might interest me in the whole world, I realized that duty and pleasure were shaking hands in a beautiful turn of fate. So I went (not without the touch of the mightful sun in my face) and picked up the delivery of a dear book that had been waiting for me at the post. I sat in front of the canal, gently rubbed its yellow cheap cover, and opened the index. I read through it, looking for that tale, the one that had always stayed in my mind. It was odd to me that I would not recognize it at a first glance, but I said to myself: “Hey, just read the introductions and you will find it”, so I went through them, one by one. Upon reaching the middle of the book I started recognizing anxiety growing in me. My memory had the feeling that the tale should be somewhere in the first half of the book. And so I got to the end, not finding what I was looking for. I started the skimming and the scanning once again, now frustrated to be revealing too much from the other tales. I looked up for synopsis on the internet, hoping that they would help me to rapidly find my treasure story, but the undesired revelation of facts from the other writings continued, while my desperation and sense of nonsense grew. And so I understood: this, what I am experimenting right now, is exactly what Miranda July speaks about in her books, movies and art in general.
Here is the synopsis of a movie called Kajillionaire
Kajillionaire is Miranda July’s last released movie. It talks about a dysfunctional family that makes a living out of little, weird, strange scams. For instance, they steal people’s mails in order to return the items later in the hope of a monetary reward. The members of the family are the two parents and a grown up daughter named Old Dolio after a deceased homeless guy. Her way of speaking, moving and acting are very particular. She is very agile and athletic like a wild animal but she is also shy and rough, like an unloved little child. It is during a scam to an airline, that they meet Melanie, a small bourgeois latin young woman, who sees in these people some sense of adventure. Old Dolio watches her parents treat her in a caring way that she never experienced in her own life. This triggers a change in her, and when she receives a check for their airline trick, she doubts whether to part it by three like they always have, or keep it to herself and maybe seek some sort of independence. By this time, Melanie has understood the family ways and tries to help old Dolio.
From now on, a part of your heart will always be a sofa, your tender smile will be hardened into a chair and the tears in your eyes will be second-hand shop porcelain.
From now on,
a part of your heart will always be a sofa,
your tender smile will be hardened into a chair
and the tears in your eyes will be second-hand shop porcelain.
I am the first in four generations of women who was raised by her own father.
It all starts in Spain where my great-great-grandfather died in an accident. The story says that while cleaning hunting guns, a bullet came out of his friend’s shotgun and killed him. María Fernanda, the widow, remarried the man whose bullet (accidentally?) killed her husband. My Great grandmother, Angela María, was therefore raised by her father’s murderer.
Later on, Angela María emigrated to Argentina where she started working at a factory. She fell in love with a musician, Arturo Rojas. She left home to be with him but without getting married, causing her sister’s surprise and horror. She got pregnant and when she went to the hospital to deliver the baby, he said that he would only recognize his child if it was a male. My grandmother was born and Arturo Rojas left for good.
My grandmother Nelly married Tadeo, with whom she had two girls: my mother Adriana and her older sister Cristina. When they divorced, my grandfather asked Nelly to choose between the girls and the furniture. My grandmother chose wisely and once again, this generation of women was not raised by their own father.
My aunt left Argentina when she was 18 years old. She visited a few countries before settling in Paris, where she would live the rest of her life.
When Cristina died a few years ago, my mother said she didn't know what to do with all the letters that her sister had sent throughout the years and suggested she might throw them away. She had sent 80 letters between 1968 and 1993, the year my grandmother died. In them, it is possible to see my aunt’s very peculiar character. Her speech reflects an absolutely broken woman, but you can also see that from the way she's hurt, she is consequently hurting others. In an aggressive manner she presses people to reply to her letters. In one of the letters she mentions being very thin and having started working as a model, whereas she finds that in the pictures she received from her family, everybody looks fat.
The first idea I had for the project was a to make a book but I felt like doing something different. The second idea I had relates to one of the first letters she sent. In it, she describes a magical episode in which she goes to the mountains with two guys to have a late picnic and snow starts falling. I thought of making a sculpture/ installation of these mountains, alongside the book. A third idea is the one I'm currently working on. I am reflecting on the emptiness of being compared to an object. Like Cristina experienced in her childhood when her mother was asked to choose between her and the furniture.
The project consists of making a VR space in which the audience can navigate her story through the letters. It is a surreal nightmare / dreamlike space which establishes a connection with a dead person.
I am making this work because it allows an investigation of my own personal trauma related to migration and the abandonment of men in my life. I am attracted to Cristina’s vulnerability. I see in her character a caricature of my own.
On the other hand I am dealing with one potential ethical problem. Her letters are funny. I usually work with myself being put in a funny place but I have agency in deciding to do so. I wonder about the ethical implications of exposing a dead woman without her consent. This is something I am trying to consider during the process.
I have always worked with personal things and I tend to work with topics related to death. I have for instance filmed dying ants, or my neighbour who during the process suddenly passed away.
My work usually engages with heavy topics from a comical perspective. This is something which is reflected in this current project as well.
I also have faced ethical issues with my work before, while exposing subjects like my father or my neighbour without their consent.
It's a bigger project than anything I have done so far. A lot of my work has very short duration. I hope that by making a larger project, I can go deeper, investigating further in possibilities of non-linear narrations.
For now, the idea is it will be VR, which is a technique I haven't used so far. This is new and old, meaning that using a variety of media is part of my style, jumping from technique to technique.
It is such a long process so far that it's difficult to spot the choices I’ve made. I chose to go beyond the making of a book. I also left behind, for now, the idea of a mountain installation. But the truth is I am not discarding anything yet.
I am investigating furniture, patterns and design from the seventies, which coincides with the date she left Argentina.
Regarding artists, I admire Shana Moulton very much. She is one of those artists whose work I would engulf and copy and steal if society wouldn’t look down upon these acts.
I am interested in the interaction between space and video in her installations, her own character inhabiting fictional digital collage spaces, the way she surrounds herself with kitsch images, in a sort of transcendental attempt, the image of a lonely woman, the juxtaposition of images, etc.
Also close to this work are melodrama writers and cinema directors like Elia Kazan, Pedro Almodóvar, Tennessee Williams (in particular the Blanche Dubois character from A Streetcar Named Desire.)
V2 The red Dot
what The red dot is a 20 minute documentary video. A consumer camera with a relatively long telephoto lens, films the building across the street. Many shots are handheld and zoom is used, accentuating the presence of a viewer behind the camera. The artist’s voice over talks about a man that appeared on the balcony just in front of hers a few days ago. She films him, showing his dark silhouette standing on the balcony. We continue to see images of him from different days accompanied with speculations from the voice over. He is referred to as “the voyeur” while the camera films him day and night, until one time when the artist stays up the whole night in order to count how many times he goes out: seven. A new voice over appears, it is the one of a young man who is a family member and neighbour of the artist. He tells how some days ago he saw an ambulance and policemen coming into the voyeur’s apartment. He thinks the neighbour is now dead. The camera shows that there is no movement in the apartment. Her theories now revolve around the idea that he might have been a man dying from a sickness instead of a criminal, and she manifests feeling guilty for all that she has filmed but also for all that she has not filmed. Now a woman appears in the dead man’s apartment. She hangs some curtains and closes them, blocking the image to the camera.
Through the lens of a hidden camera, the narrator is able to see her neighbour better than her own naked eyes. Her voice over dialogues with the actual documentary image, leaving the audience to decide how much of her speculations they agree with. The growing neurosis of the narrator's ideas, the strangeness of sound elements and uncanny reflections of the protagonist on the window, may lead to the idea that even though the video presents itself as a documentary, there is a strong sisterhood with fiction.
As the artist feels observed, she decides to use her camera in order to watch closer the person that represents a menace to her. The danger that she feels is that of a prey observed by its hunter. The artist, therefore, uses art primarily as a way of self-defense. But the actual transformation that happens throughout the movie is strongly associated with a shift in the positioning of the protagonist. As the story develops, her apparently innocent purpose of defending herself against a voyeur, results in her making a completely voyeuristic movie about a person without their consent. Questions about the ethics of documentary, the observing of the inside world through the outside one, and the politics of gaze in the contemporary world, arise.
V1 The red Dot
what The red dot is a video of twenty minutes of length. A young woman’s voice over talks about a man that appeared on the balcony just in front of hers a few days ago. The camera shows the dark silhouette of this man standing on the balcony in front. We continue to see images of him from different days accompanied with speculations from the voice over. The narrator calls him “the voyeur” while she films him day and night from her window, until one night she stays up to count how many times he goes out per night: seven. A new voice over appears, it is the one of a young man who is a family member and neighbour of the narrator. He tells how some days ago he saw an ambulance and policemen coming into the voyeur’s apartment. He thinks the neighbour is now dead. The camera shows that there is no movement in the apartment. Her theories now revolve around the idea that he might have been a man dying from a sickness instead of a criminal, and she manifests feeling guilty for all that she has filmed but also for all that she has not filmed. Now a woman appears in the dead man’s apartment. She is hanging some curtains and closes them, blocking the image to the camera.
How The video is a documentary shot with a consumer camera with a relatively long telephoto lens. Through the lens of the hidden camera, the narrator is able to see her neighbour better than her own naked eyes. She adds some text that dialogues with the actual documentary image, leaving the audience to decide how much of her speculations they agree with. The growing neurosis and fear of the narrator's ideas, added to strangeness added by sound elements and uncanny reflections of the protagonist on her own window, may lead to the idea that even though the video presents itself as a documentary, there is a strong sisterhood with fiction.
As the artist feels observed, she decides to use her camera in order to be able to watch closer the person that represents a menace to her. Art works here primarily as a way of self-defense. But the actual transformation that happens throughout the movie is strongly associated with a shift in the positioning of the protagonist. As the story develops, her apparently innocent purpose of defending herself against a potential voyeur, results in her making a completely voyeuristic movie about a person without their consent. Questions about the ethics of documentary, the observing of the inside world through the outside one, and the politics of gaze in the contemporary world, arise.