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November 22, 2014
Friday, August 22, 2014

The other heaven: Julio Cortázar revisited

Archive photo of Julio Cortázar.
By Julio Nakamurakare
Herald Staff

Institutions commemorate writer’s life, legacy

One hundred years after his birth (August 26, 1914) Argentina and the world continue to celebrate Julio Cortázar’s literary legacy, his life, his passions, his political affiliation, his role in the Latin American literary “boom” of the 1960s, jazz (the music he so much loved), the objects he liked to pick at random and find unusual use for, the thousands of books and records in his Paris home, the way he articulated literary innovation with tradition.

One of the most important attractions in Cortázar’s commemoration will be Los otros cielos, a monumental exhibition at the National Museum of Fine Arts (MNBA). Running July 26 to September 28, Los otros cielos, named after one of Cortázar’s most famous short stories, will allow visitors to take a peek into the writer’s personal collection of original photographs dating back to his childhood and formative years, correspondence, documents, objects and home-made 8mm films, an integral part of Cortázar’s life story.

Curators organized the exhibit around a series of accompanying texts — a random yet meticulous parcours of sorts, as Cortázar would have loved — not unlike the writer’s own 1977 opus Territorios, about his favourite visual artworks. This part of the Cortázar exhibit will be housed in the temporary exhibitions hall of the MNBA, divided into 12 themes to be toured in linear fashion or at random, as, once again, the author of the “follow your own route” novel, Rayuela (Hopscotch), would have preferred.

The MNBA’s main hall will feature a projection of 11 rectangles in chalk — a hopscotch — with easily recognizable, iconic images from his life. Overlapping with the main hall’s exhibit, the second floor will house the show Los fotógrafos: ventanas a Julio Cortázar (The Photographers: Windows to Julio Cortázar), featuring the writer’s most iconic images as captured by some of the world’s top photographers, like Antonio Gálvez, Sara Facio, Alicia D’Amico, Carlos Burri and René Burri.

The outstanding work of Facio, D’Amico, Dani Yaho, Manja Offerhaus and other photographers will also be on view at the Casa del Bicentenario through September 28. The Casa del Bicentenario’s Cortázar show is complemented by audio material from old vinyl records and tapes with Cortázar reading from his own texts, first edition book covers and manuscripts.

The Cortázar itinerary continues at the nearby Museo del Libro y de la lengua, with an exhibition ingeniously entitled Rayuela. Una muestra para armar (Hopscotch. A Set Kit), the aegis of which will be the homo ludens so present in Cortázar’s persona and in the emblematic Rayuela. Mirroring the novel’s choose-your-route-as-you-read style, visitors to Rayuela. Una muestra para armar will also be able to walk around at will, never following a rigid pattern set by exhibition curators at conventional shows. The Museo del libro y de la lengua exhibit runs through late October for any “Cronopios” and “Famas” who are late on catching up with the news about their creator.

A few steps away, as in a hopscotch game, the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) will host one of the most important events in the “Calendario Cortázar”: the series of conferences titled Lecturas y relecturas de Julio Cortázar (Reading and Re-reading Julio Cortázar), with more than 40 Argentine and foreign literary personalities performing an in-depth examination (an innovative one, hopefully) of Cortázar’s legacy and the meaning of his oeuvre for the new generations. Héctor Schmucler, Néstor García Canclini, Roberto Fernández, Horacio González, Oliverio Coelho, Carlos Gamerro, Martín Kohan, Carlos Alvarez Garriga, Américo Cristófalo and Damián López Tabarovsky, among many others, will tackle the close links between Cortázar’s literary production, his life story and the evolution of his ideology. August 25 through 27.

At the Palais de Glace in nearby Recoleta, writer Juan Sasturain teams up with other narrators and visual artists in a show titled Rompe-cortázar, once again with a puzzle-like structure to be assembled by the visitors themselves.

One of the most striking tributes has been organized by the Universidad Nacional de Quilmes: an installation, documentary-style, following Cortázar’s life as child, student, teacher, husband, friend and writer, with quite a few winks for Cortázar connoisseurs who will surely spot quite a few details that may go unnoticed to visitors not very familiar with his work or life in visual terms.

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