September 11, 2015

Open Letters: A Correspondence with Chilean Art Writer Ignacio Szmulewicz, 3

Ignacio Szmulewicz is an art writer in Santiago, Chile. We started writing each other letters about art writing. Last week I asked him if he has a kind of image that visualizes his writing process. You can read his answer below. 

Dear An.

I carried your letter with me for several days. This is a strange and melancholic phrase to say because I didn’t receive any physical letter but a digital one. Your early experience with teachers made me remember some of my own. I tend to block that part of my childhood, especially the one that took place in those bored and long days of school –my escape was to go to the top floor and watch the landscape or make any excuse to go outside.

In reference to your path drawing, I tend to believe that my own is more linear. I make plans that try to follow or make structures that serve as guides. But for some reason I always treasure more those strange moments when I lost myself in a spiral way. 

I guess I have two different sets of drawings. Those abstract marks in the white page that symbolizes the starting of a new idea regardless of what I have experienced. But I also like to go back “to where I once belonged”, that Beatles song. Revisiting some ideas, I feel that all texts are just a tangled version of the first one –similar to the famous John Cusack quote in the film High Fidelity: “All my romantic histories are a scramble version of that first one.”

In any case, I believe that, either by memory or by inception, the writing subsumes me in a process that I can’t control, a process that evolves, and becomes more and more complex and dramatic, and one that can make me loose track of time. I was very impressed by the movie Birdman by Gonzalez Iñarritu, because it was exactly the kind of experience that I have with regard to writing. One moment you feel like you head is about to exploit and the other moment you feel completely naked. It’s not the loss of direction or the need for orientation, but it is like, in some cases, I literally enter in the images, artists, books or problems that I’m trying to understand, and I can only go out by going deeper and deeper (like in Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams or in The Mill or the Cross). In the awakening I hardly understand what was going on. Afterwards, like with a sculpture, I begin a process of polishing that usually ends with a finished text.

 Akira Kurosawa's Dreams, 1990

That’s why I never feel very related to those silences and drastic ways of enclosing oneself in the writing process (Paul Auster or Roberto Bolaño). I look for a sense of immersion in the reality, like Susan Sontag did, or even more extreme Hunter S. Thompson –I love New Journalism. I want to believe that the text contains a part of the energy that I spent in the writing process.

How can you describe your writing process? How do you feel when slowly the words come to life and pile up on the white page?

Yours sincerely, 


9 September 2015

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