viernes, 9 de agosto de 2013

A Short Poetic Anthology

By Neil Leadbeater

Author: Luis BenÌtez
Translated by Elizabeth Auster with versions by Beatriz Olga Allocati
Publisher: Littoral Press, Suffolk, England.
Trade Paperback £9.99, July 2013
ISBN: 978-0-9558937-8-0

Luis BenÌtez is a poet, essayist and novelist living in Argentina. He is a member of the Iberoamerican Academy of Poetry, New York, USA, the International Society of Writers, USA, the World Poets Society, Greece, and the Advisory Board of Poets Press, India. His work has brought him international recognition and he has been the recipient of many prestigious awards including the La Porte des PoÈtes International Award (Paris, 1991), the Primo Premio Tusculorum di Poesia (Italy, 1996) and the International Award for Published Work Macedonio Palomino, (Mexico, 2008). He is the author of some 36 books (poetry, essays and narrative) published in Argentina, Chile, Italy, Mexico, Romania, Spain, Sweden, USA, Venezuela and Uruguay. 

Over the years, many of his poems have appeared in small press magazines and journals in the USA and the UK but this is the first time that a selection of his work,  (46 poems taken from nine separate books), has been published in the United Kingdom.

BenÌtez belongs to the so-called Argentinian generation of 1980, the generation that meant in part to disassociate itself from the immediate influences of writers such as Pablo Neruda and CÈsar Vallejo in order to search out new possibilities including influences from outwith their native countries. In the case of BenÌtez, whose poetry may be said to be truly cosmopolitan, it was a question of carving out a new identity variously composed of many different facets. His poetry is rooted in European literature, classical mythology, history, philosophy and geography. His unique handling of this material is what makes him such an original voice. In particular, the persona of the author is never to the fore, it is as if the poet takes a back seat and lets his universal themes take centre stage.

In This Morning I Wrote Two Poems Benitez concerns himself with the craft of writing - where does the Muse come from and why is it  that  the finished object is more than the sum of its component parts? Always modest about his own achievements and wise enough to know that the perfect poem is in all probability an impossible thing (but worth pursuing), he wonders

About the men who have said it better
and are now dead

The poem hints at the length of time that it can take for a work of art to come to full maturity, and how, at the last, it can have a transformational effect which can be out of all proportion to its existence on the page.

Several writers are celebrated in this volume. There are poems addressed to Vallejo, Pound, Lao-Tse, Keats, Schwob and Rimbaud. The title of his poem To Deprive Death of Its Arrogance carries an echo of Dylan Thomass poem And Death Shall Have No Dominion. The reference is no accident. Dylan Thomas was, and continues to be, a great influence on BenÌtez. Benitez has said of him, he was my master.

In KustendjÈ, By The Black Sea the whole poem, which is a meditation on change, revolves around the central figure of another writer from the past, this time Ovid, and his work Metamorphoses. The reference is to the time when the Roman Emperor Augustus banished Ovid from his native Rome to a period of exile in Constanza. Again, as with so many of the poems in this collection, there are several layers of meaning working their way into the readers conscience at the same time. In this case it is the skilful interplay between past and present: the ever-changing events of history.

For me, it is the poem The Astonishing Lives that provides the key to the whole collection. These are the men and women who have travelled the huge country of distance to show us their many-coloured fabrics, their words - they are the quiet influences from the past that people our creative spirit and are the source of this poet’s own original work.

Translation is never an easy task, especially in relation to poetry.  Unfortunately, the translation in this book is at times uneven and in need of some fine-tuning in order to enable the reader to gain a proper comprehension of the text but this should not detract from the opportunity that this publication brings to enable speakers of English to gain an appreciation of a selection of very fine poems that would not otherwise be available in the United Kingdom.

lunes, 29 de julio de 2013

La suerte de Daniel Burman

Por Lucía Camargo Rojas

 En La suerte en tus manos  (2012),  la última película del argentino Daniel Burman, Jorge Drexler representa de forma apropiada a Uriel, un hombre de 40 años, separado y con dos hijos que desea hacerse una vasectomía para eliminar la posibilidad de tener más descendientes. El mismo día de la operación se encuentra sorpresivamente con Gloria (Valeria Bertuccelli), una antigua novia universitaria que lo dejó porque él nunca hizo pública su relación. Las escenas mejor logradas del octavo largometraje de Burman se desarrollan en el consultorio del urólogo Weiss (Luis Brandoni), en donde Uriel habla sin pausa sobre sus relaciones con las mujeres, haciendo una clara parodia a lo que puede ser una consulta psicológica. Incluso, varias de las líneas de Brandoni son las que pretenden ser las pistas que den sentido a la historia (“La clave del éxito no es saber qué se hace bien sino qué es lo que uno hace mal”). Drexler se destaca por su naturalidad, al punto de que uno se olvida totalmente de su rol como músico, compositor y cantante, y en cambio lo percibe como un perfecto representante de un hombre maduro y algo perdido, capaz de añadir un toque de humor sarcástico a esta comedia romántica. Sin embargo, la película desencanta por la falta de conflicto. Gloria y Uriel vuelven a ser pareja fácilmente y la mentira en la que se basa su reencuentro (Uriel le dice a Gloria que él es quien traerá de regreso al aclamado grupo la Trova rosarina) no alcanza a suscitar mayores obstáculos entre la pareja, haciendo que aunque la película se deje ver y sea amena, no sea precisamente la obra maestra de Burman. Daniel Burman es reconocido por ser un representante de la nueva ola del cine argentino. A pesar de que su largometraje El abrazo partido (2004) ha sido aclamado por la crítica y se le reconozca por películas como Esperando al mesías  (2000) y El nido vacío  (2008), sus más recientes obras carecen de la fuerza de las primeras. En particular, La suerte en tus manos  pareciera desaprovechar su reparto y el potencial de la historia. La magnífica Norma Aleandro representa fugazmente a Susan, la madre de Gloria. Pero aunque la reconocida actriz interpreta un par de líneas interesantes, particularmente cuando habla de su relación con su ex esposo, es una pena que su actuación pareciera desconectada del hilo conductor, cuando podría ser clave para entender la vida amorosa de Susan. Incluso la idea de que la suerte la construye uno mismo es interesante, pero tampoco se explota lo suficiente en los juegos de póker de Uriel ni en la película en general. Al final uno siente que el protagonista podría o no haber construido su futuro y aunque Burman intenta crear un momento epifánico en el que Uriel toma las riendas de su vida, la escena resulta algo llana y sin vida. Definitivamente La suerte en tus manos no es la película para conocer el trabajo de Burman pero sí para ver el debut de Drexler.

miércoles, 5 de junio de 2013

James Turrell in Houston

James Turrell: The Light Inside from Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on Vimeo.

James Turrell: The Light Inside explores the remarkable career of James Turrell (born 1943). Raised in a Quaker household and coming of age in the radical climate of the 1960s, Turrell has created some of the most beautiful art of our time, treating light as a material presence in perfectly calculated installations. Viewers are invited to investigate the margins of perception, to measure the passage of time, and—in the artist’s words—“to enter the light.”
 This exhibition features seven immersive light environments, ranging from Turrell’s first projections of the late 1960s to his most recent Tall Glass series of 2010–13, as well as three print portfolios and site plans relating to Roden Crater. All are from the collection of the MFAH, and most are being created for the first time for this exhibition. Also on view is The Light Inside, the Museum’s beloved light tunnel, commissioned by Isabel B. and Wallace S. Wilson to connect the Caroline Wiess Law Building with the Audrey Jones Beck Building.

About the artist
Born in Los Angeles in 1943 to a Quaker mother and a father who was a school administrator, James Turrell attended Pomona College, where his studies concentrated on psychology and mathematics. He later received a master's degree in Art from Claremont Graduate School. Turrell’s work has been widely acclaimed and exhibited since his first showing at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1967, which established him as a leader in the nascent Light and Space Movement in Southern California. His work has since been presented at major venues including the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1976); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1980); the Israel Museum (1982); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1984); MAK, Vienna (1998–99); the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh (2002–03); and the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (2009–10); and was included in the 54th Venice Biennale (2011). In addition to the exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in summer 2013, Turrell’s art is on view in a solo exhibition at the Academy Art Museum, Easton, Maryland. The artist’s work is represented in numerous public collections including the Tate Modern, London; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Turrell has created more than seventy Skyspaces in the Americas, Europe, and Asia, with the first made in 1974 for Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo at his home in Varese, Italy.

domingo, 12 de mayo de 2013

Entrevista a Juan Rulfo

En 1977 Juan Rulfo habló con Joaquín Soler Serrano para Televisión española. Compartimos esta conversación con nuestros lectores:

jueves, 11 de abril de 2013

I Concurso Literario de la Revista Literal de Novela Corta * Cuento * Poesia * Ensayo

Estimados Participantes, el servidor de nuestra página tuvo problemas entre la noche del 10 de abril, hasta la tarde del 11 de abril. Eso provocó que nuestra página web desapareciera por momentos. sin embargo, el servicio ya ha quedado restablecido.
Pueden mandar sus trabajos para el concurso a las siguientes direcciones:

viernes, 1 de febrero de 2013

Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, a Mexican Opera

Houston Grand Opera debuted the world's first mariachi opera and after a successful run in Paris it returns home to Houston in March of 2013. 

Cruzar la Cara de la Luna is a dynamic and inspirational work that captures the nature of the immigrant experience.  Written by composer and writer José “Pepe” Martínez (music director of the world famous Mariachi Vargas  de Tecalitlán) and directed by Broadway director and author Leonard Foglia, who also wrote the lyrics, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna is a fusion of the traditions of mariachi songs and opera, both of which speak through music about love and loss, family and country.

Literal had the opportunitty to talk to  Broadway director and author Leonard Foglia who wrote the lyrics for Cruzar la cara de la luna

How did you come out with an idea like this and what were the challenges you encountered when you translated the immigrant experience into opera and mariachi music?
Anthony Freud, the General Director of HGO at the time, first had the idea to try to find a way to use mariachi music for the opera stage. It fell to me to come up with a story that would have meaning for the Mexican-American community in Houston. And I knew immediately that if the style of the music was to be mariachi then I had to steer away from anything overtly political and that the story being told would have to be an emotional one

The immigration is a phenomenon that has been present in the US for many years. However, there was always the doubt about the community´s capacity to appreciate this kind of cultural expression. What are your thoughts on this?
We are at a time in our history, here in the US, when the issue of immigration is front and center. Just a few days ago the President mentioned it in his Inaugural address. But part of the problem is that so many people look at it as just an ‘issue’. That’s why I chose to tell a very specific personal story of a family. I wanted to show the faces behind the discussion.

Will you be producing more shows of this nature?
With Mariachi? Right now nothing is planned. But I would like to.

Cruzar la Cara de la Luna set a new benchmark in operatic storytelling, why is so?
When I was first interviewing different immigrants about their lives and wondering myself about the use of this type of music I would ask – tell me what comes to mind when I mention mariachi music – and the answer that struck me the most was – home. So, I knew if we were starting from a place where there is already an emotional attachment to a style of music then we were the ones taking a step toward a community by offering something that already had meaning for them. We are not only saying that your story belongs up on this stage but so does your music.

You had a successful season in Paris. Can you share with us your experiences there? Did you go to any other place in Europe?
The most startling moment in Paris, which has no history of mariachi music and to my knowledge is not invested in the Mexican-American experience at all, came from a comment by one of the administrators of the theater. She decided to bring her children to a performance and with them was their Croatian nanny. When the administrator went to see how her children liked the performance she found that the nanny was crying. When asked why the performance affected her so much the nanny said, “It’s my story.”

What made you take the decision to come back to Houston?
We are hoping that those who missed it the first time round, and not just those in the Hispanic community, will have the opportunity now.

jueves, 17 de enero de 2013

American Modern

Drawn from MoMA’s collection, American Modern takes a fresh look at the Museum’s holdings of American art made between 1915 abd 1950, and considers the cultural preoccupations of a rapidly changing American society in the first half of the 20th century. Including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, and film, American Modern brings together some of the Museum’s most celebrated masterworks, contextualizing them across mediums and amidst lesser-seen but revelatory works by artists who expressed compelling emotional and visual tendencies of the time.
The selection of works depicts subjects as diverse as urban and rural landscapes, scenes of industry, still-life compositions, and portraiture, and is organized thematically, with visual connections trumping strict chronology. Artists represented include George Bellows, Stuart Davis, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Sheeler, Alfred Stieglitz, and Andrew Wyeth, among many others. Far from an encyclopedic view of American art of the period, the exhibition is a focused look at the strengths and surprises of MoMA’s collection in an area that has played a major role in the institution’s history. The exhibition is organized by Kathy Curry, Assistant Curator for Research and Collections, and Esther Adler, Assistant Curator, Department of Drawings.

*First and second images:
Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887–1986). Evening Star, No. III. 1917. Watercolor on paper mounted on board. 8 7/8 x 11 7/8″ (22.7 x 30.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Straus Fund. © 2012 The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Digital Imaging Studio
George Bellows (American, 1882–1925). Dempsey and Firpo. 1923-24. Lithograph composition: 18 1/8 x 22 3/8″ (46 x 56.9 cm), sheet: 22 3/4 x 26″ (57.8 x 66 cm). Publisher: probably the artist, New York
Printer: Bolton Brown, New York. Edition: 103. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Digital Imaging Studio

lunes, 10 de septiembre de 2012

Literal Magazine at the annual Houston Fine Art Fair

Literal Magazine will participate in the second annual Houston Fine Art Fair. The event will assemble leading galleries from across the United States, Latin America and Europe Sept. 14 -16, 2012 at Houston’s Reliant Center.  Eighty galleries, representing approximately 11 countries and 31 cities, have established the Houston Fine Art Fair (HFAF) as the largest in the Southwest Region. 

World-renowned collectors, curators and art patrons, from the experienced to the novice, will experience an exciting and diverse array of paintings, drawings, print editions, installations, sculpture, and photography.  

“This year’s show will reflect Houston as a top flight art market,” says Melissa Grobmyer, President of MKG Art Management and HFAF Show Advisor.

Galleries from throughout the world will exhibit at HFAF and come from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, England, Seoul Korea, México, Switzerland, and Venezuela.  In the United States, look for galleries representing Baltimore, Bay Shore, Bloomington, Charlotte, Chicago, Coral Gables, Culver City, Dallas, Grass Valley, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Millerton, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Santa Fe, Scottsdale and Washington. 

Stellar contemporary galleries, with a large contingent from Texas, California, and New York, include the prominent Flowers Gallery, Holly Johnson Gallery, Kopeikin Gallery, Margaret Thatcher Projects, Pavel Zoubok Gallery, Schroeder Romero & Shredder, Tomlinson Kong Contemporary, Talley Dunn Gallery, Von Lintel Gallery, and Western Project. Younger generation galleries presenting cutting-edge work include Galerie Kashya Hildebrand, Luis de Jesus, La Casona Gallery, Mission Project and Vicky David Gallery.

In keeping with last year, HFAF will host a strong Latin influence with art galleries Antena Estudio, Beatriz Esguerra Arte, Drexel Galeria, Galeria Alfredo Ginocchio, Gonzalez y Gonzalez, La Casona, Pan American Art Projects, Patricia Conde Galeria, Salar Galeria de Arte and Toca Galeria.

To complement the Latin influence, HFAF is proud to host actor, director and performer (half of the comedy team Cheech and Chong) Cheech Marin. Marin has developed one of the finest private collections of Chicano art in the country.

“Chicano art is American art,” said Marin, a third-generation Mexican American. “My goal is to bring the term ‘Chicano’ to the forefront of the art world.” Author of three books on this topic, Marin will curate the Thomas Paul Gallery booth to introduce the next generation of gifted Texas based Chicano artists.

The spotlight on Houston, the nation’s third largest art market, will showcase esteemed local galleries Anya Tish Gallery, Art From the World, Barbara Davis Gallery, Darke Gallery, Deborah Colton Gallery, David Shelton, Devin Borden Gallery, Gallery Sonja Roesch, Hiram Butler Gallery, Hooks Esptein Galleries, John Cleary Gallery, Koelsch Gallery, McClain Gallery, McMurtrey Gallery, Peel, PG Contemporary Gallery, Sicardi Gallery and Wade Wilson Art. 

“This year, we focus on Texas, both its artists and collectors, as the generator for our amazing arts culture. The panels, events, and programming highlight Houston’s unique, sophisticated perspective in the international art market. HFAF will reflect the vitality and diversity of our city, state, and region,” says Grobmyer.

The Houston Fine Art Fair continues to build audiences in the southern United States through their vibrant cultural partnership program. This year’s partners include AIA Houston, The Architecture Center Houston, Art League Houston, Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa, Asia Society, The Association of Professional Art Advisors, Bayou Bend Collection & Gardens, Big Medium, Blaffer Art Museum, The Blanton Museum of Art, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, City Arts Center, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center For The Arts, Dallas Art Dealers Association, DiverseWorks, Fluent~Collaborative, Fotofest, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Galveston Arts Center, Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston Center for Photography, Houston Cinema Arts Society, Houston Downtown Alliance, Houston Museum District, Lawndale Art Center, The McNay Art Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Nasher Sculpture Center, New Orleans Photo Alliance, Oklahoma Museum of Art, The Old Jail Art Center, Orange Show Center for Visionary Arts, The Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, Philebrook Museum of Art, Rice Gallery, Santa Fe Art Institute, Spring Street Studios, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts, Via Colori, and Winter Street Studios.

Sponsors for the 2012 Houston Fine Art Fair include Chartis Insurance; Fayez Sarofim; HEB-Charles Butt; Rottet Studios; Tootsies; Toyota/Lexus.


The fair will kick off Thursday evening September 13th with a VIP Preview Party from 6:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. and Opening Reception from 7:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., benefitting The Core Program of the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The program awards one-year residencies to exceptional highly motivated visual artists and critical writers who have not yet developed professional careers. The eight current and four new fellows will have their work shown at the Fair, with all sale proceeds going directly to the individual fellows. 

sábado, 4 de agosto de 2012

lunes, 11 de junio de 2012

Bradbury hijo de Julio Verne.

Por Jaime Perales Contreras

En su prólogo a S is for Space Ray Douglas Bradbury escribió lo siguiente:”Julio Verne fue mi padre. H. G.Wells fue mi tío sabio. Edgar Allan Poe era el primo con alas de murciélago que guardábamos en lo alto del desván. Flash Gordon y Buck Rogers fueron mis hermanos y amigos. Ahí tienen mi linaje. Añadiendo, por supuesto, el hecho de que muy probablemente, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, la autora de Frankenstein, era mi madre” Con esta célebre genealogía literaria, el escritor de ciencia ficción, nació en Waukegan, Illinois, Estados Unidos. A la temprana edad de 12 años, pidió una máquina de escribir de juguete para Navidad: “En esa máquina destartalada escribí mis primeros episodios imitando John Carter, jefe de los guerreros de Marte, y episodios enteros de Chandú el Mago, de memoria”. Precisamente su primer intento narrativo infantil, una secuela de una historia de Edgard Rice Burroughs, la escribió, “porque no tenía dinero para comprar el volumen de la serie”.

Durante su juventud, Ray Bradbury se ejercitó en el oficio de escritor.–teatro, cuentos y una novela-. Bradbury comentó que de 1938 a 1941, taladró millones de palabras, las cuales discretamente las incineró en el olvido.

No sería sino hasta su cumpleaños número 21, cuando publicó su primer cuento en una revista de ciencia ficción. En los años subsecuentes, Bradbury escribió innumerables historias para diversas revistas de ciencia ficción, así como publicaciones “serias” de la talla de The New Yorker, Harper’s, Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, The American Mercury, Charm, Mademoiselle y Playboy, entre muchas otras.

En 1947, su historia Homecoming, fue incluída en la selección oficial para el prestigiado premio literario O’Henry. El crítico Herschel Brickel afirmó del cuento que sin temor a “ruborizarse, en la comparación con los clásicos del período de la breve narrativa de Estados Unidos, su prosa invoca a Irving, Poe y Hawthorne”. Un año después, su ficción Powerhouse ganó el tercer lugar del O’ Henry.

Su primer libro de cuentos Dark Carnival (1949) (La feria de las tinieblas), un curioso y delgado libro, cuyas narraciones se centran en un oscuro circo en donde lo más inesperado puede ocurrir, fue inmediatamente vitoreado por los críticos ingleses y norteamericanos como un clásico.

De Bradbury, probablemente uno de sus libros más famosos, Crónicas marcianas (1950) fue, al parecer, uno de los que le dio más trabajo para ser publicado. Fue rechazado por varias editoriales debido, sobre todo, a su curiosa y peculiar estructura narrativa. El volumen es una serie de cuentos que se relacionan entre sí, lo que nos da una sospechosa y falsa idea de haber leído una novela. Doubleday, el primer editor del volumen, se percató de esta particularidad y aceptó publicarlo, con la condición de que se titulara precisamente Crónicas marcianas.

Bradbury, en una entrevista para The Paris Review, confesó que fue el único cambio que le hizo el editor y la idea, como se puede comprobar, a través del tiempo, fue acertada.A cinco años de que se publicó en lengua inglesa, Jorge Luis Borges escribió el prólogo para la traducción en español de Crónicas Marcianas. La inusual y curiosa manera de juzgar a sus libros preferidos, le dio al texto de Bradbury la calificación de sobresaliente por parte del escritor argentino. Lo comparó con uno de sus autores predilectos H.G Wells, quien lo descubrió a los 10 años: “Hacia 1909 leí, con fascinada angustia, en el crepúsculo de una casa grande que ya no existe, Los primeros hombres de la luna de Wells. Por cierta virtud de estas Crónicas, de concepción y ejecución muy diversa, me ha sido dado revivir, en los últimos días del otoño de 1954, aquellos deleitables terrores”.

Bradbury fue diletante de la cultura latinoamericana (escribió varias historias de tema mexicano, entre las cuales destaca una sobre las momias de Guanajuato); la colonización del planeta rojo, descrita en las Crónicas marcianas, nos da en ocasiones la idea de estar leyendo el salvaje y nostálgico choque de culturas de la conquista de México.

Varias de las historias de Ray Bradbury fueron llevadas a la pantalla con favorable éxito comercial En 1953, por ejemplo, su historia The Fog Horn, se tradujo con el nombre de The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (El monstruo de las 20,000 leguas). La anécdota: Una bestia prehistórica es encontrada en la Antártida y revivida por una serie de pruebas atómicas, lo que hace que se convierta en una devastadora amenaza para la humanidad. --Dos años más tarde, el director japonés Ishiro Honda, traería a la pantalla a un conocido monstruo de manera muy similar a la de Bradbury, con el nombre de Godzilla (1955)--. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, aportó, para esa época, una sustancial ganancia de 5 millones de dólares, debido en parte, a los modestos y económicos efectos especiales, sin carecer, por ello de calidad, producidos por Ray Harryhausen y sus extraordinarias miniaturas. También, en el mismo año, se realizó la película tipo B titulada It Came from Other Space, basada en el cuento de Bradbury The Atomic Monster, Asimismo, Ray Bradbury escribió el guión para la versión de John Huston de Moby Dick (1956), la famosa novela escrita por Herman Melville, protagonizada por Gregory Peck, como el amargado capitán Ahab.

Ray Bradbury colaboró en diversas ocasiones para la radio y la televisión norteamericana. Escribió, además, varios guiones para el programa de Rod Serling, Dimensión desconocida. Y, a su vez, Serling plagió en más de una ocasión las historias de Bradbury para su inmortal serie de ciencia ficción, lo que provocó severas reprimendas por parte del escritor norteamericano. Serling siempre se disculpó por haberlo hecho de manera completamente accidental. La dimensión desconocida, por su parte, como un homenaje, emitió en su capítulo número 100, la adaptación de su cuento de título whitmanesco I Sing the Body Electric.

Una de sus novelas más populares, Fahrenheit 451 (1953), fue adaptada al cine por el director francés. Francois Trufant. El libro abre sus primeras páginas con la leyenda: “Fahrenheit 451: la temperatura a la que el papel de los libros se inflama y arde”. La novela describe a una cruel sociedad del futuro en el que poseer y leer libros equivale a un crimen imperdonable. En la novela existe una especie de bomberos policiales que se dedican a quemar los hogares en donde hay libros. La única manera de salvar al mundo, es aprender de memoria las obras de manera literal, punto por punto, coma por coma. Así que, en la novela, se genera una sociedad clandestina que se dedica a memorizar los libros más importantes de la cultura occidental. Las personas, por lo tanto, se convierten en libros vivientes. Alberto Manguel, en su A History of Reading, cuenta la historia de un hombre asesinado en Sachsenhausen, que era un famoso académico que se sabía de memoria muchos de los clásicos, y que, durante el tiempo que pasó en los campos de concentración, se había ofrecido como biblioteca viviente para sus compañeros de cautiverio. Manguel comentó: “Me imaginé al anciano en aquel lugar lóbrego e implacable, donde no había esperanza, al que alguien se le acercaba para solicitarle un texto de Virgilio o Eurípides y que se abría en una página determinada para recitar palabras antiguas a sus lectores sin libros. Años más tarde, comprendí que Bradbury lo había inmortalizado como uno de los miembros de esa multitud que guardan libros en su mente en Fahrenheit 451” La novela de Bradbury, como se puede observar, es una alegoría de las sociedades totalitarias, comparable a 1984 de George Orwell.

En la década de los sesenta también se adaptó al cine la tercer de sus novelas más famosas titulada El hombre ilustrado (1951), la cual narra un misterioso y solitario personaje que se encuentra completamente tatuado. Aquel que ve los tatuajes del hombre ilustrado ve también su futuro. La gente lo odia porque a través de sus imágenes, cifradas en su cuerpo, contempla exactamente la manera en que morirá. El hombre ilustrado fue protagonizada por Rod Steiger, el actor que interpretó al infame Al Capone y que ganó el Oscar por su actuación del teniente de policía racista en la película Al calor de la noche.

Durante la década de los ochenta, Bradbury tuvo su propia serie de televisión, The Ray Bradbury Theatre en el que cada semana se presentaba un capítulo basado en uno de sus innumerables cuentos y novelas. El programa de televisión, aunque tuvo una audiencia disciplinada y fiel que veía el programa cada viernes, probablemente, prefería deleitarse con la prosa esmerada del narrador norteamericano.

Ray Bradbury jamás dejó de escribir. “Mi entusiasmo me sostuvo bien a través de los años: nunca me he cansado de los cohetes y las estrellas. Nunca he dejado de disfrutar la honesta diversión de morirme de miedo con algunas de mis narraciones más misteriosas y oscuras”. De hecho, una semana antes de su muerte a los 91 años, la revista The New Yorker publicó una colaboración autobiográfica de su vida como escritor en un número especial dedicado a la ciencia ficción.

Bradbury escribió 27 novelas y más de 600 cuentos. Sus libros vendieron más de 8 millones de copias y fue traducido a 38 idiomas.

The Experimental Printmaker of Paula Roland

Paula Roland, Language of Beauty XII (detail), 2012, Encaustic print,Shikoku paper

The experimental printmaker Paula Roland will soon be on view at the Anya Tish Gallery. An expert in encaustic wax printing, Roland originated many of the techniques used in this method of making art. By combining the historic practices of encaustic painting and printmaking, a new form of art is developed: encaustic wax printing. As paper and wax are combined, Roland navigates the sea of shifting shapes, colors, depth and translucency in each changing encaustic print.

Fascinated by environmental extremes, Paula Roland chooses to surround herself with contrasting terrain and variable weather. Due to the process, her prints share an unpredictability and unique similarity to the New Mexican landscape that she calls home. The interplay of the heated wax and colorful pigments move in diverse ways slowly revealing an artistic narrative that is then transferred onto environmentally mindful Shikoku paper. Although Roland is in charge of each print she creates, the underlying level of uncertainty brilliantly creates monotype prints that can never be re-created or foreseen.

Paula Roland has been the recipient of multiple grants, awards and fellowships for her innovative printmaking. She has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, two installation grants from the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, two artist residencies from the Santa Fe Art Institute and two fellowships from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She has participated in over 60 group exhibitions and over 18 solo exhibitions since 1984.

Opening Reception: June 22, 2012, 6:00 - 8:30 pm
On view: June 22 - July 21

lunes, 14 de mayo de 2012

Los cien años de Tarzán

Por Jaime Perales Contreras
En octubre de  1912, la popular revista norteamericana de principios de siglo XX, All Story Magazine, dio a  conocer el relato Tarzán de los monos, escrita por el novelista norteamericano Edgard Rice Burroughs. Dos años después, se publicó en libro la famosa aventura de Lord Greystoke, aristócrata inglés, y millonario, criado por gorilas, cuyo nombre de batalla simplemente se le conoce como el de Tarzán (El piel blanca).
Como se puede observar, al leer la novela, el estilo literario de Burroughs es claro y directo. Muchas veces sus párrafos son de una sola línea, lo que era utilizado por muchos escritores de narraciones  pulp de su época, a quienes se les pagaba por página.  El éxito de su libro hizo que Edgard Rice Burroughs escribiera 22 secuelas y que, asimismo, se hayan vendido más de 30 millones de ejemplares y que fuera traducido a más de 50 idiomas, sin contar las innumerables series de tiras cómicas, filmes y dibujos animados que se han hecho sobre el personaje.  
Las regalías de sus libros hicieron que Burroughs comprara un rancho que tituló, en honor a su personaje,  con el nombre de Tarzana, y que, posteriormente, por un indescriptible apetito por los negocios, el autor lo convirtió en fraccionamiento, lo que formaría más tarde el conocido  distrito  ubicado en Los Ángeles, California.
En la novela de Burroughs no aparece el chimpancé Cheetah, ni Tarzán vive en una casa empotrada en un grupo de árboles con Jane su esposa, ni con un niño adoptado de nombre Boy, como las películas de Johnny Weissmuller, falsamente nos instruyen. Tampoco Tarzán se expresa con el famoso monólogo cinematográfico Me Tarzan, You Jane  (Yo Tarzán, tú Jane), el cual jamás se cristaliza en la historia literaria. Al contrario, el personaje es un hombre con  un coeficiente intelectual de genio, que, en las novelas, habla con un inglés correcto, con un ligero acento francés. Ninguno de los filmes que se han hecho sobre el  género ha rescatado esta curiosa licencia lingüística franco-inglesa.
Tarzán fue un niño amamantado por un gorila, lo que le da la fuerza y agilidad de uno de ellos. Y que, a lo largo de la novela, nos encontramos que, debido a esto, combate, y liquida exitosamente, con la ayuda de un cuchillo, a tres simios, un leopardo y dos leones. Uno de los feroces felinos, por cierto, es estrangulado por los poderosos brazos de este salvaje aristócrata de la selva africana a mano limpia.
El relato, además de ser una novela de aventuras,  es una historia de amor. Jane Porter, joven y bella exploradora, se enamora profundamente de Tarzán, debido a que éste la rescata de ser violada por un gorila a mitad de la selva. ---De hecho, el capítulo de la novela influyó para que posteriormente se filmara la película King Kong (1932), en el que en la película aparece esta curiosa, y salvaje atracción  de una bestia por un ser humano.
A Burroughs se le ha acusado de ser racista. En la novela, las tribus de negros son crueles e ignorantes caníbales, que no merecen vivir. Aquellos que ven el rostro de Tarzán mueren sin misericordia. Incluso, uno de ellos, después de muerto, casi es devorado por este mítico y curioso personaje como señal de triunfo, venganza y poderío. Sin embargo, Tarzán no condesciende al canibalismo, lo más salvaje que nos llega a informar el libro es que tiene, entre su dieta, simplemente el de alimentarse con carne cruda de león.
Tarzán es individualista por naturaleza. La novela apela a los valores de la supremacía blanca sobre el salvajismo de una selva inconquistable. Burroughs, de hecho, admiraba a otro exegeta de la vida salvaje, su colega el escritor Rudyard Kipling. Las similitudes entre El libro de la selva y Tarzán de los monos son diversas. Sin embargo, Kipling, a diferencia de Burroughs, defiende la vida comunitaria sobre la individual. Tarzán, al igual que la obra de Kipling, tuvo influencia del famoso caso del niño lobo, mejor conocido como Gaspar Hauser. Hauser, como se recuerda, fue un  infante alemán nacido a principios del siglo XIX, que se dice fue criado en completo aislamiento y que, posteriormente, sería misteriosamente asesinado. Se rumoró que Hauser, al igual que Tarzán, era descendiente de nobles. 
En el caso de los filmes, el más conocido protagonista del personaje fue Johnny Weissmuller, el tercer actor que lo caracterizó, quien estelarizó once  películas de la serie. Sin embargo, Elmo Lincoln fue probablemente el Tarzán más cercano a la novela, al menos físicamente. Lincoln, el primero de la serie, tenía una estatura de casi dos metros y de gran complexión muscular. Gordon Scott, el onceno Tarzán, fue el primero de la serie que habló de la manera culta y educada descrita en las novelas de Burroughs.
La película de dibujos animados  Tarzán (1999) de Walt Disney, intentó rescatar la fidelidad de la obra literaria. Sin embargo, como es de esperarse, edulcora varias secciones de la novela. Greystoke: La leyenda de Tarzán (1984), protagonizada por Christopher Lambert, utiliza las dos primeras novelas de Edgard Rice Burroughs sobre el personaje y hace una película muy cercana al original. En Greystoke, como en las novelas, el héroe decide regresar a África como  manera de afirmar que el mundo civilizado tiene menos valor y atractivo que la vida selvática.
Como manera de aniversario, en los Estados Unidos, La biblioteca de Norteamérica (The Library of America) puso en circulación en este año una nueva edición de la versión original Tarzán de los monos de 1912. Esta curiosa colección de libros fue fundada en 1979 y tiene como tarea publicar a los clásicos norteamericanos en bellas ediciones. El modelo de esta selección literaria es la legendaria antología de inmortales publicados  por La Pléiade, en Francia.  La  biblioteca de Norteamérica se basó también en la idea original del crítico estadounidense Edmund Wilson.
Edgard Rice Burroughs murió el 19 de marzo de 1950, y, curiosamente, jamás puso un pie en África.

lunes, 16 de abril de 2012

A life involved: Wendy Watriss

By Fernando Castro R.

Part II: A Completely Foreign Country*
*Part I was published in Lteral´s Spring Issue 2012

After her adventurous African journey in 1970 Wendy Watriss came back to New York to publish her stories and photographs. There she met Frederick Baldwin by chance. She recalls, “We did some assignments together in New York and we had a great time.” Shortly thereafter, Wendy took off again for Europe to do several assignments as both a re-porter and photographer for NewsweekThe Smithsonian, and The New York Times. “Even though I had gotten involved with Fred, left for Vienna thinking that I was not coming back. But Fred prevailed (she laughs gleefully) and a year-and-half later I came back.”
Thus Wendy and Fred began a life as a couple built on shared interests and common projects. Almost immediately they embarked on a project that they called “Back Roads of America.” Wendy describes it this way, “It was a way to get back to the grassroots experience of the United States. Both of us had been socially involved in different ways: he in the Civil Rights Movement, and I, at the level of world and national news. However, neither one of us had necessarily gotten the sense of how people from small towns live the American, or the U.S. experience and history. We decided that we would start in Texas. Fred bought a dinky trailer. He liked to call it a camper but it was more like a trailer —pulled by his hand-made Mercedes Cabriolet. Poor car! They only made about 300 of them!” Wendy makes an effort to hold the laughter caused by that jocund image that is obviously one of her fondest memories thus far. “Texas to me was like a completely foreign country,” she adds.
Driving south through Arkansas and Mississippi Fred and Wendy arrived in Texas in 1971. Wendy reminisces, “Along the way we stayed with migrant workers, farmers, and many other people. I would write every night. Once when we were heading towards Austin we passed through Anderson, Texas. It was three o’clock and school was out. We saw two remarkable things. In this town of three hundred people, there was a very large and imposing late 19th century Victorian-style courthouse at the head of the one main street with western-like architecture on both sides. The buildings were a bit run-down, but the courthouse was in good condition and stood like a great sentinel. On the street where we were driving, there were lines of black students coming out of school. It looked like the old South. No question about it. So Fred and I said to each other, ‘There is something about Texas history that is not being told.’”
Later at a dinner party in Austin that Dave and former Texas governor Anne Richards had given on their behalf, Wendy and Fred confirmed their impression with the notable Texas historian Larry Goodwyn. After doing more research at the University of Texas library they decided to stay in the Lone Star State. Wendy explains why: “Texas cultural frontiers parallel and reflect important cultural, ethnic, and demographic movements in U.S. history.” For a while they chose Austin as their home base.
Fred taught at the Journalism School and Wendy at the American Studies Program of the University of Texas. Wendy remembers that they combined their classes in a hands-on project for students to reconstruct the history of different communities. “By going out and talking to people and politicians, we had identified two Austin neighborhoods that needed historic designations.  One was Clarksville, one of the city’s oldest African-American nei-ghborhoods; the other one, Hyde Park, a predominantly white middle class neighbor-hood. We sent out our students as teams of writer-reporters and photographers to document these neighborhoods block by block, research their history, and select a subject that was socially significant to be the focus of a written and photographic essay. These students were juniors and seniors of the advanced program of the University of Texas who were obliged to leave the classroom and make personal contact with strangers. It was an experience that changed the lives of at least ten of them.”
 After teaching at UT, Fred and Wendy set off on a two-year research project about Grimes County. “We stayed on a farm owned by an African-American family and we lived in our trailer!” says Wendy amused. “That family was a very unusual one because the father had created their wealth in the late eighteen-hundreds while the older generation had work-ed as tenant farmers in the big cotton farms along the Navasota-Brazos River.”
During that time Wendy and Fred also worked on a story about the black rodeo in the southwest, but their main focus remained the communities of Grimes County itself where there had been a history of racial tension. Wendy explains, “The county was part of the corn and cotton frontier of Texas first settled by Anglo-American plantation owners from the old South that had brought African-American slaves with them. After the Civil War, there was a lot of racial conflict and violence in the county. African-Americans had gained political power as post-Civil War Republicans. In the late 1890s, the Populist Party became powerful, bringing white and black people together. A white Populist sheriff who had African-American deputies was literally shot out of office by white landowners. For the following seventy years, the county’s politics were dominated by the White Man’s Union. This was true in many Texas counties and throughout the South until the Voting Rights Act of the 1960’s.”
Knowing that their presence in the county was quite conspicuous, Wendy and Fred took steps to preempt any unseemly confrontation. “In Grimes County, we were thoroughly checked out by law officers and the Department of Public Safety because we were outsiders. We were pretty bizarre. Luckily we had very good manners and Georgia license plates. We were very careful. We introduced ourselves to the presidents of the biggest banks, the county sheriff, the chief of police, and two of the county commissioners. We did not know until later how well we were going to be checked out. After two years of talking to people throughout the county and taking pictures of many events, we got to know everybody in the county. In fact, we were asked to do their sesquicentennial memoir. We did it like the English staging of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood.  We asked students to read scripts of personal histories of people in the county.  Behind them, we projected pictures from family albums. Besides the original settlement, the county’s history included Polish people, German settlers, and Mex-ican-Americans.”
In 1976, Wendy and Fred showed the Grimes county work at the Menil’s Rice Institute for the Arts. The exhibit had 400 pictures. Wendy describes it, “The idea was to experience American history through the county. The show took you visually from the outside —as if you were driving through—and little by little it brought you to the inside: the black life, the white life, their segregation, and some aspects of integration. In one room we had a projection of the old pictures we had photographed of members of different communities. The opening night was amazing because many people from Grimes county came —both black and white. They hired about eight buses. Dominique de Menil, whom we did not know very well at that time, was beside herself with joy. One of the best things was when the African-American artist John Biggers brought hundreds of black students to the exhibit. He told them: ‘We may not ever have the chance to see this view of black and southern history again.’”
Wendy reflects, “A lot of what I know and understand about the United States now came from having lived that experience and then gone to the German Hill County —which was completely different. To do that second project we were able to get a research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. We should have stopped and done the Grimes book, but instead we went almost immediately to the Hill country. We stayed there for a little over a year, photographing and doing oral history. The Germans who settled there came as a result of the 1848 upheavals in Europe; the nationalist movements in Germany, Hungary, Poland… These immigrants came to the Central part of Texas when it was still Comanche territory. Many were craftsmen from small towns. The Germans were probably the only ones who could have settled that territory. Due to the harsh conditions they probably lost about a third of their people. They thought they were buying agricultural land but unscrupulous developers had sold them land with very thin topsoil. Nevertheless, they adapted. They learned from the Mexicans how to raise sheep and goats. They lived on relatively small homesteads seventy-five acres or less —compared to the larger plots in East Texas, which were about five hundred acres. They built settlements and limestone houses. But theirs was a completely different political culture. It was what in the book we called “artisanal republicanism” with a small ‘r.’ If you read Robert Caro’s book on Lyndon Johnson, the name of our book about this work, “Coming to Terms,” comes from one of its chapters.”
“In Coming to Terms we include a copy of a remarkable document about the conception of government of these German settlers. If I remember correctly the statement was from 1857. It spelled out what the relationship of civil society and government should be: what government and what individual citizens should be responsible for. Government has to be responsible for infra-structural developments like roads and schools. This was completely antithetical to any southern-democratic government. That there needed to be public schools was unheard-of in the South. There was also an anti-slavery statement in there. You can take that document today and say that it is what Barack Obama is talking about. During the Civil War the German settlers refused to be conscripted. They tried to escape to Mexico and they were massacred a couple of times. All of that history is completely different from the rest of Texas history. I don’t know how it is right now, but up to about ten years ago that county had one of the best hospital systems in the state, the best public school systems, music clubs, dance clubs, …because there was such a strong background of civic interconnection between the individual and society. Until about 1950 it was fairly homogenous. Even when we were there, there were families who just spoke German —fractured and bad German, but German nevertheless.”
After their work on the German Hill country, Wendy and Fred headed to the southern tip of Texas, adjacent to Mexico. Wendy starts off again, “Although we did not do as much work there, the next area that we worked on was a border county that was Spanish-Mexican first and now is a Mexican-American county: Hidalgo. It became one of the major destinations for Mexican farm workers coming into the U.S. around 1910. At the time the border was still pretty open and ruthless land-developers thought they could make citrus farms out of much of this county. So they sold these tracts of land to people from the mid-west who had come down to farm. That is when the big Anglo-American influx into south Texas came; particularly in Cameron, McAllen, Brownsville, and Hidalgo counties —not so much Laredo, which was a little further northwest. One of the big land salesmen was Lloyd Bentsen’s father, that’s were that money came from. We stopped our work there around the time the big Central American influx began. Still the colonias were in pretty bad shape when we were there. It was the last five or six years of La Raza, so Antonio Orendain was still a strong head of the farm workers union. He and Chávez had split because of personal egos. But he was a very strong leader of the farm workers of South of Texas, which may not even exist anymore. La Raza politics were beginning to challenge the Anglo politics that had dominated that area. A school by the name of Antioch College funded four or five grassroots community colleges around the county. They had a progressive curriculum that focused on history, literature, and social studies from a community level as opposed to just national culture. We documented a lot of that part of the Latino Hispanic heritage of Texas; although maybe not enough to do a book just about it. But we actually had some exhibits in the eighties and early nineties of this work. We showed the German and the Latino Southern area work at the Philipps Collection in Washington in 1979.”
In the late seventies Wendy and Fred had to make a decision over whether they should stay in Houston or go back to New York. Wendy recollects their decision, “Our experience here with the Menils was very strong. I think that if Dominique hadn’t been here, we might not have moved here. Houston seemed like the most cosmopolitan, most open, and most interesting city in Texas.” So they stayed in Houston and they got one of the houses in the Menil ‘hood. Fred was asked to come back to teach journalism at the University of Texas and he later taught at the University of Houston. Wendy continued to free-lance and did the story on Agent Orange over a year-and-a-half period. “There were a lot of Vietnam veterans around Austin, so I began doing the story there. Life bought the story and enabled me to finish it. The story ran in Life and it won the World Press Award.”
The Agent Orange work is connected with the history of FotoFest. In 1979 Leica had begun to award the Oskar Barnack Prize and Wendy’s Agent Orange work was its third recipient. She remembers, “When Fred and I went to Amsterdam to receive the award, we were invited to Leica in Germany and several people there persuaded us to go to Arles in the summer. We did and we had a fantastic time. We brought the Texas work and the Agent Orange work. There was no organized portfolio review, but there was a way of meeting a lot of people, many of whom were in French, Belgian, and Scandinavian institutions. As a result, we had a lot of our work published in European magazines. The Agent Orange work was also published in the German magazine Stern. It was a very rich time. Back on the plane, Fred and I were talking about Arles and he said, “Why don’t we try something like that in the United States?” We had seen at Arles work that never got to States. Our idea was to break down the hierarchy, the closed circle of the decisions, and the curatorial power of the existing institutions of the United States, and open up to the world. Just about that same time, Le Mois de la Photo started in Paris; so we went and met with Jean Luc Monterosso. In Houston there was a German gallery at the Rice Village owned by Petra Benteler: Benteler Gallery. A very fine gallery that showed showed predominantly European photography. They had a fine show of Atget. She also showed Hungarian photographer André Kertész, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and some more modern ones too. We got together with Petra and we hatched FotoFest over our breakfast table in 1983.” The first FotoFest was in 1986 and the HYPERLINK ""FotoFest 2012 Biennial will be the Fourteenth International Biennial. Wendy and Fred’s profile as international curators gained along twenty-five years of intense labor has tended to hide their photographic work. That trend has been partially reversed with the recent publication of their book Looking at the US 1957-1987 (2009). In the meantime, Texas for them is no longer the “foreign country” that it once was.