About an Intervention of the bookstore

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The success of Intervention in the bookstore, a Yornel Martínez’ project (Manzanillo, 1981) for the 12th Biennial of Havana in the Fayad Jamís bookstore, was perhaps foreseeable. This mega-action is like a necessary gesture in the course of his trajectory, a way to coordinate different interests that inspire him since long. For him the alleged “interdisciplinary”, which intends to be a platform for the biennial, is not a device used to be “in tune”. In his case, exploring other areas of what is artistic is part of his statement, to put it in a fashion word. Yornel is interested in the cultural world, the world of producing senses and he doesn’t discard any support. He uses words, as an earliest image of the world, and he gets into the universe of writings to spread out the limits of what is considered artistic in our context. He reads poetry, meets writers, ponders…

Intervention in the bookstore functions as an action-work designed from different sections that accomplish a suitable coordination between each other. The first and most obvious for passers-by walking around Obispo Street is the intervention in the glazed window. A red circle limits the exhibition of books published by Alias, a publishing house of the Mexican artist Damián Ortega. But, maybe, it is more appealing the self-reference intervention where the artist states a number of significant names of universal literature, mainstays of thought, poetry and narrative; he brings out the letters Y, O. With this gesture, the artist draws the attention on his literary and philosophical leanings. He reveals his favorite writers.

On the inside of the Fayad Jamís bookstore, the reader-agent Yornel, has altered a bit the dynamics of the space. The bookstore keeps its usual purpose, but it becomes an ideal room to experience different feelings, to generate questions and to encourage thinking. All the actions and objects are related to literature, but they go beyond writing to dynamite ideas related to the para-literature, that is to say, the border line of countryside: alternative publications, negotiations from outside, censorship.

One of projects invited by Yornel (agent) is the exhibition Books with no dominion curated by Elvia Rosa Castro. Arranged in big wooden tables, like the ones that are in the bookstore, the chosen books are separated from the well-defined dominion, and from the established ideas. What is worthy in these items isn’t the “legible”, but what is sensitive to sight and touch. They are objects whose deepest sense is based on their spatial distribution, on their design and projection. These unique pieces with diverse shapes and styles create speeches around different subjects such as loss. An example is the book She is not here by Rafael Domenech, or other projections more tautological like S/T by Yornel, where maybe he reveals the required readings of a possible Delphic course. Ponjuán intervenes in published books with a more sculptural profile, those books that are designed to illustrate readers and make them into humanized devices.

The dynamics on the inside of the gallery is incited with a dis-familiarizing act performed by Yornel. For questioning typical classifications and the usual way we face acknowledgement, the reader-agent (as he calls himself) has twisted the books from their groupings. He moved many things just by putting the bible in the poetry section. He created surprise, discomfort, confusion and above all new arbitrary readings. By doing this, the bookstore becomes a live place, changing and open to what is possible and unexpected.

The short circuit generated in the bookstore grounds is revived with the presentation of P350, the blog organized by Yornel, in which it collaborates many artists, curators, actors, fans, flamboyant people, and intellectuals in general, who are mostly Cubans but together with some foreign friends. P350 is a mass of creativity and lack of inhibitions, freedom, cynicism and criticism on different subjects related to creation in its broad sense, to the estate of things and cases (such as Mosquera’s). The issues of P350 can be consulted and enjoyed in the bookstore with the correlate of images that are projected. They show the characteristics of those printing workshops where such unique copies are made. Beyond the visual-textual outcome of the magazine/blog in progress, it transcends due to its own alternative and original condition that comes from a sack of cement.

The publisher’s managements, which come from independent initiatives and nourish the cultural view of the Island, is one of the topics that interest Yornel the most. That’s why he has invited to the Towers of Letters (a space created by Reina María Rodríguez), where it is published and translated books by foreign authors, by great authors unknown in our country, or in other cases, little socialized texts. These books, which are printed in small office printers and are sewed by hand, with some vignettes and simple covers, are exhibited in a different room of the bookstore, some titles are: Correspondence by Charles Baudelaire; Fragments by Jean Braudillard, Discussion about sin by George Bataille. This publishing house of terrace roof, which has travelled from the highest position of the Palacio del Segundo Cabo up to that apartment on Ánimas Street, has created a space for an intellectual movement, exchange of books and great movies, long talks accompanied by tea, what is always appreciated.

Other two invited projects make up Yornel’s proposal: The Fraction, the space of the Tabloide Noticias de Arte Cubano (News Tabloid of Cuban Art) in charge of Julio César Llópiz and the installation Right Epoch for well-known writers by Jesús Hdez-Güero. The first introduces into an official publication a section that issues small texts, thoughts and images assumed as independent works. The installation by Güero is a visual and, at the same time, a linguistic structure. The books arranged in one of the tables are organized in such a way that references to censored writers can be read in the letters of spines.

The cycle perfectly thought by the reader-agent Yornel is completed with other two actions: posters about Cuban literature arranged around the bookstore, a collection of bookmark samples illustrated with visual poetry and soundtracks in which you can listen to poems by Delfín Prats, Ángel Escobar or Juan Carlos Flores. As a colophon for his actions during the Biennial time, he has prepared a cycle of talks for three days about “the death of books and new ways to socialize knowledge: the book as a cultural alternative vs commercial alternative”, “the alternative publishing projects, the publisher’s role”, and the presentation of the different sense of humor, and Santiago Armada in memoriam, by Caridad Blanco.

Undoubtedly, Intervention in the bookstore achieves to materialize the searches that Yornel Martínez is worried about, that encourage him as much as the philosophical-style painting he has shown to us. His inquiry is real, and it goes beyond a mere flirtation with literature to take us to more inclusive visions about creativity, to open us before the cultural text.

L.J.C.

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