January 15, 2016

Open Letters with Chilean Art Writer Ignacio Szmulewicz, 11

Are books important for art writer Ignacio Szmulewicz? I've never thought about the sounds, smells, movements connected to reading. But Ignacio doesn't. Here it is, another  open letter from our series, but no longer from Chile, because Ignacio relocated to Spain. 

Dear An.

A part of this letter was thought in Santiago, incubated in Sao Paulo to finally see the light in Barcelona. How small is the world? 

It’s the first time that I came to Europe thinking Latin-American. I have no idea why, but during previous visits I was always feeling comfortable of getting back home. Now, when the plane flew over Santiago a part of my body stayed there. I contemplated the New Year party from the air in Sao Paulo: an infinite flow of lights from all the parts of that gigantic city. And also a part of me stays there. My first image of Europe came from the northwest corner of Africa.

Here, in Barcelona, i’is still depression, so they say. Eight years have passed since I’ve been here and the city feels glorious, enormous, and full with attractions. I don't know and don't understand the whole problem but much of the sensibility its part of me. I will always feel half home here. My last visit was in the Chilean summer of 2007, and that was maybe the last college summer spend like a true college. No job, just fun. The whole city appeared to me like a beautiful ongoing museum-by-day-party-by-night. 

It’s very curious but this fragmental feeling came just at a time that I enter the whole “social network” experience: Instagram, WhatsApp, and others –the you-know-who of apps for travelers. I take some pictures, take some notes, talk with friends, answer emails, and stay in touch. In the end, I still need some print magazines and notebooks (I bought two very beautiful ones). What I’m trying to say is that the whole experience of travel has changed and I still don’t understand. 

You ask me about my library and I have to say that my mind and body still are connected to my house and life in Santiago. There I have not just books but a location, movements and smells. When I began college, I thought that I was going to accumulate lots of books but in the last years I began to feel different. My library is small, located mostly in my office. I have contemporary art, modern, Renaissance and Chilean art books; literature, history, and movies there. In the living room I have magazines, newspapers, and some selected art history books, some catalogues, and a couple of art books, presents of friends. In the bedroom I have a small but very specific library of public art. As you can see I have trouble to separate work and living space (sounds like a Woody Allen quote), I have things to read in every corner but I read it also in different moods and ways in every place of the house. So, I have more to say about the way of reading than of the library in itself. In short, I like the idea of different kind of experiences in different places: some with the sun on my face; some with the sound of the neighbors; some nights in the well illuminated office and others in the obscure bedroom.

For now I get back to my life as a critic/tourist in Europe. I go to Madrid for four days. During this first week in Barcelona I thought a lot in words. How to say or how to name things. Can contemporary art be understood with the lexica that we use for Renaissance or Medieval art? I get fascinated by this idea of seeing simultaneously a modern building, an old church or a crocked medieval street. How do you feel about the use of words in art criticism? 

Still with the heat and sun of the south of the world,


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