Paratext #42 by Antonio Gagliano

Paratext #42
February 26, 2020
By Antonio Gagliano

Sol Prado (Long stay)
Nuria Inés (Exchange grant between Bienal de Arte Joven de Buenos Aires and Hangar)
Helena Vinent (Long stay)

We attended Paratexto #42 wrapped up in strange weeks. For many days, a rhythmic beat draws rings on the surface of the glasses of water and releases plaster specks on the walls of Hangar. Those of us who hang around the area know that the authorship of the boom-boom belongs to
construction workers from the neighboring parking lot who operate the tunnel boring machine like a thunderbox. We also know about the advance of a pandemic front and we talk about it all the time, everywhere, but personally, the feeling is still of remoteness. During these days we still believed that, deep down, all this would not affect us.

A Movie to be Made.

Part of Sol Prado’s (Buenos Aires, 1985) performance consisted of sharing raw footage of what will be her next movie. Her job in a textile company allows her to travel to China several times a year and so she has been collecting videos with her cell phone to portray a rather gray city, entirely dedicated to the embroidery of sequins and flat thread. In the productive cast of this part of the country, each urban center is assigned a very specific role and the cities are planned according to various tasks. Most of the stores sell things related to factory life and there are no signs of pleasure in the infrastructure. The population also does not include children or the elderly, who are kept apart in the slow temporality of rural environments.

The videos are shot without permission because getting one would involve an exhausting governmental hassle. They are short sequences that are interwoven with the immaterial, floating images of the story of the Sun, and show, for example, the facade of an electricity factory located next to a temple. Or the choreography of unloading goods from a container. Or a woman manually correcting what the machine did not know how to embroider while her colleague fiddle with the clothes, discovering new mistakes and protuberances, nailing marks on everything that will later have to be fixed.

During the presentation, Sol wonders about hyper-productivity associated with mental health. She comments that sadness is easily pathologized and that a diagnosis is only consolidated when work performance is damaged. What happens when a pathology does not look like a disease? This film, yet to be made, could address what happens when acceleration no longer seems suspicious.

The pagan saints provide health.

Nuria Inés (Barcelona, 1987) suggested Bingo. The story of her stay in Buenos Aires and the northeast of Argentina was organized by chapters associated with a series of names drawn from the lottery. Number 14, for example,
glossed a series of random data on Pueyrredón Avenue, number 17 constituted the pleasure of the crunchiest starburst in South America, and number 22 contained “Your life drawing “. Nevertheless, right at the beginning of the presentation, Núria let it be known that she had prepared the mechanism to select the episodes that made sense to her.

During the presentation, the stories began to amass a gallery of pagan saints to whom people turn to for unresolved life longings or health problems. The Gauchito Gil soon made his appearance, a bandit whose throat was slit for deserting the Paraguayan war and who saved – by recommending
prayer – the life of the sick child of his executioner. Visiting the Parish of the Mare de Déu de Montserrat in Buenos Aires, a sculpture of the black Virgin, the Moreneta, showed up with white skin. The artist then asked the woman who cleaned the saints in the church, and who was unable to tell her how such an impudence had happened. The Difunta Correa also appeared, who died of thirst and exhaustion under a garrofer tree in the province of San Juan. The legend explains that her baby survived for days by feeding of her dead breasts.

Núria concluded by explaining that to obtain the necessary intimacy for her project she had to reproduce what the fortune-tellers and pythonesses with whom she met during her walks around the city did. She began to offer tarot card readings to other people who were walking around and to take a photo of them in return for them to tell her the truth about their lives.

From these strings of voices emerged resounding phrases printed on T-shirts and memories collected in a range of fanzines to be shared.

Rumorology and anticipation

With blue-soaked moving images and a hypnotic soundtrack created by Astroonom, Helena Vicent (Barcelona, 1988) projected a three-channel film whose beginning was the literal collapse of a world. Among the collapsed buildings, a voice narrated the story of a near future in which the
arrival of a virus would affect the world’s population “causing incredible physical and sensory malformations, generating a new society, totally diverse, with people like those who today are assigned the label of disabled”.

Those of us who saw the film and subsequently inserted our form in the red mailbox participated in an initiation ritual to secretly join a network of content distribution by postal mail. The 2,500 pen drives, delivered door-to-door, store rumorology about this pandemic fiction but, more importantly, share tools to turn the virus into a historic opportunity gap. “The Protocol6 Pendrive functions as a hidden interconnection system that must occur exclusively outside the Internet so as not to leave a digital footprint.” In Helena’s fabulation, mass monitoring and traceability of people under health arguments is a problem we must avoid. How long can a disease emotionally synchronize populations? The fabulation also seems to interrogate a scenario in which death catalyzes long-delayed somatic learning and produces tremors in social organization.

If the February ritual in Ricson was the only one performed so far, it is because everything that happened afterward prevented the project from continuing. In this sense, it is also a film pending completion and a display of faith in the elastic materiality of space and time. If we were listening to its rhythmic advance, Paratext #42 gave us the future just before it covered the city.

Categories: Paratext report |

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