hG, Spare Parts: A Crime Has Many Stories in Buenos Aires

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Justina Canton: The Itinerary of a Crime, EPU Magazine

, 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 thehaudenschild Garage 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.

Trigger Shot
First things first: is an exquisite cadaver project commissioned and produced by and of thehaudenschild Garage. It is based on The Madwoman and the Story of a Crime (1975), the short story by that takes place in Buenos Aires, and was cooked up by co-conspirators , Sonia Becce and Alejandro Ruiz. Piglia’s text generated two site-specific works and a short story commissioned from Argentine writer .

In May 2008 the haudenschild Garage 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 haudenschild Garage and Alejandro Ruiz selected the artists , and .

“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 thehaudenschild Garage.

The Target
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!