Posts Tagged ‘literatura’
The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona’s interest in literature is very much present in its programme, from exhibitions to debates, in performative activities such as Slam Poetry and in consolidated festivals such as Kosmopolis, Primera Persona and Món Llibre. The CCCB is writers’ territory and this spring among the interesting authors visiting us are Juan Marsé, Jordi Puntí, Renata Adler, John Irving, Don DeLillo and Svetlana Alexievich. Taking advantage of the visit by the Nobel Laureate in Literature of 2015, we have done a little archaeological digging in our archive to remember other writers who have visited the CCCB and were also winners of this prestigious accolade.
Herta Müller Nobel Prize in Literature 2009 – She visited the CCCB in June 2012. She gave the lecture “Language as Homeland” and talked with translator and literary critic Cecilia Dreymüller. To coincide with her presence at the Centre, a small-format exhibition was dedicated to her “Herta Müller: The Vicious Circle of Words”.
Orham Pamuk. Nobel Prize in Literature 2006. He visited the CCCB in January 2010. The celebrated Turkish writer gave an interesting lecture on the future of museums and of novels.
J.M.Coetzee. Nobel Prize in Literature 2003. He made a “virtual” visit to the CCCB in October 2008. The South African writer read some excerpts from his book “Diary of A Bad Year” exclusively for the Kosmopolis literature festival.
Gao Xingjian. Nobel Prize in Literature 2000. Visited the CCCB in October 2008. The Chinese writer talked about the reason for being of literature and the sacrifices involved in the defence of creative freedom against the abuses of political or media power. The CCCB devoted an exhibition to him along with a television programme “Soy Cámara. El mundo de Gao”
Mario Vargas Llosa. Nobel Prize in Literature 2010. He visited the CCCB in October 2004.
Vargas Llosa gave the lecture “Wars at the 21st Century”.
Since 11 December 2015, Barcelona has formed part of the UNESCO’s Creative Cities network in the field of literature. Together with Baghdad (Iraq), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Lviv (Ukraine), Montevideo (Uruguay), Nottingham (England), Óbidos (Portugal), Tartu (Estonia) and Ulyanovsk (Russia), Barcelona now has official recognition of a reality that has been palpable in the city for a long time.
Literature is one of the primary focuses of the CCCB and forms part of its founding principles: “The CCCB is a space for the creation, research, dissemination and debating of contemporary culture in which the visual arts, literature, philosophy, film, music, the performing arts and transmedia activity are interconnected in an interdisciplinary programme”. Literature is, therefore, one of the subjects that have most featured in exhibitions and activities over the centre’s twenty years of history.
In 1995, just a year after its inauguration, the CCCB presented the exhibition James Joyce’s Dublin, the first of a series devoted to cities and the writers linked to them. After Dublin, the series continued with The Lisbons of Pessoa (1997), The City of K. Kafka and Prague (1999) and Cosmopolis. Borges and Buenos Aires (2002). All of these exhibitions went beyond the writing to relate the works of authors with their literary and personal landscapes, to discover how the cities that they inhabited were the direct or indirect protagonists of their works. In The Trieste of Magris (2011), the Italian city served as a physical tour around the work of the Italian writer; with Pasolini Rome (2013), the filmmaker met the writer to defend his most critical role and Bolaño Archive (2013) recalled the passing of the Chilean writer through Blanes, Girona and Barcelona via a detective-style journey that visitors had to resolve, a kind of “meta-exhibition” that allowed relations and clues to be discovered in the very work of the author of The Savage Detectives.
Other writers as subjects of exhibitions and debates have been Calders (The Mirrors of Fiction, 2000), Espriu (I Looked Upon This Land, 2013), W.G. Sebald (Sebald Variations, 2015, an exhibition that related the walks taken by the German author with contemporary art), Julio Cortázar (Travels, Images and Other Territories, 2004), Federico García Lorca (1998) and J.G. Ballard (Autopsy of the New Millennium, 2008).
It was the exhibition devoted to Borges that gave its name to the amplified literature fest Kosmopolis, which held its first edition in December 2002. Since then, every two years (with some exceptions: in 2005 a special edition was held to coincide with Book and Reading Year and the 400th anniversary of the publication of the Quijote), it has brought together some of the best authors of world literature, including several Nobel, Cervantes and Príncipe de Asturias prize winners, such as Juan Marsé, Gao Xingjian, Claudio Magris, J.M. Coetzee, Tzvetan Tódorov, Amos Oz, Ismail Kadaré, Mario Vargas Llosa and Svetlana Alexievich. Kosmopolis bears the subtitle “Amplified literature fest” because it is more than a literature festival, because the themes for each edition are related to each other, because writing, science, comic art, the written and spoken word, music and theatre all form part of a programme that explores the letters from very diverse perspectives. And because it does not focus on a single form of literary expression, but rather encompasses them all. For all these reasons we would be so bold as to say that Kosmopolisis the only festival held in Barcelona on literature understood in its broadest sense, since other meet-ups, such as BCNegra or Barcelona Poesía, focus on the field of literature specialising in the crime and poetry genres, respectively.
Beyond the exhibitions, the CCCB has also hosted book presentations, courses, tribute events and lectures by authors from al over the world. To cite just a few examples: Paul Auster presented his Winter Journal in 2012; Erri de Luca talked about the Mediterranean; Amin Maalouf debated on identity and memory; Orhan Pamuk reflected on the future of museums and literature; Herta Müller presented a small-format exhibition on her work; Salman Rushdie explained why we live in the time of strangeness, and Jonathan Safran Foerdefended the need to stop eating animals.
In 2016 we commemorated the seven-hundred year anniversary of the death of Ramon Llull and over the course of the year various activities were held related with the writer, philosopher, theologian, professor and missionary. At the CCCB we joined the commemoration with an exhibition, The Thinking Machine. Ramon Llull and the ars combinatoria, which offered a new perspective regarding his work. However, this is not the first nor the last anniversary to be celebrated at the centre: we also remembered J.V. Foix with the recital FestFoix. 25 Years With/Without Foix; we hosted a tribute to Joan Vinyoli on the thirty-year anniversary of his death, Anniversary Promenade. Tribute to Joan Vinyoli, and Raimon read texts by Joan Fuster on the 2012 commemoration of ninety years since his birth and fifty since the publication of his most important work, Nosaltres, els valencians. For the last three years we have also been celebrating Orwell Day; once a month we host a meet-up focusing on the spoken word, PoetrySlam, and regularly the Friends of the CCCB participate in the Reading Club led by journalist and writer Antonio Lozano. Furthermore, since 2013 the CCCB has formed part of the Literature Across Frontiers platform, which promotes literature and translation in minority languages with member literary festivals from places as diverse as Turkey, Poland, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Norway, Portugal and Slovenia.
Apart from Llull, the literary programme for 2016 was again brimming with important events. In May and June we were visited by Northamerican writers John Irving and Don DeLillo and in November we hosted Eurocon, Europe’s most important science-fiction literature meeting. We also received the most autobiographical authors of the moment at the Primera Persona festival, which confirmed authors such as Renata Adler, Juan Marsé, Carlos Zanón and Jordi Puntí. Writers such as Elif Shafak, Mia Couto and Patrick Deville came to talk about books and literature and in 2017 we’ve celebrated a new edition of Kosmopolis with guests like John Banville, Pierre Lemaitre, Zeina Abirached, Jean Echenoz and PJ Harvey, who gave her first poetry recital in Spain.
With this track record, Barcelona’s candidate status as Literary City was a project that the centre defended with enthusiasm and with the conviction that it was a recognition that Barcelona has deserved for some time. Now, with this honorary title, the city has fully entered the worldwide league of creative cities, and the CCCB will continue to be on the front line, defending literature as one of the fine arts. Because, as defined by the principles of Kosmopolis, literature is “the only discourse that does not try to model the world on absolute foundations, disciplinary frontiers or ideological straitjackets”.
The literary canon is a compendium of works that overcome the oblivion of time and continue to be read. In the operation of keeping alive books that are not strictly current – by offering them to new readers, who make new interpretations of them – a fundamental role is played by those publishers that are committed to the publication of more or less well-known classics.
Kosmopolis. Programació contínua held a round table with five publishers for whom these classics are essential to the structure of their catalogue. These are the three Catalan publishers Edicions de 1984, Minúscula, and Sajalín, Turkish publisher Metis and Dutch publisher Lebowski. Edicions de 1984 is, together with Metis, the most veteran of them: both have three decades of experience behind them. The first of the two has recovered the works of authors such as Dino Buzzati, Hans Fallada, Kurt Pinthus, Aleksander Pushkin, Honoré de Balzac, Lev Tolstoi, Juli Vallmitjana, Eduard Girbal Jaume and, more recently, Walt Whitman, William Faulkner and Alfred Döblin. In the case of Metis, founded in 1982 in Istanbul, it has dedicated a large part of its almost 800 published titles to date to “highbrow literature and critical theory”: in the first section it includes Georges Perec, Marguerite Yourcenar, Henry Bauchau and Bilge Karasu; in the second, it has published works by Ludwig Wittgenstein, Walter Benjamin, Emile Cioran and Sigmund Freud.
Minúscula, which in 2015 celebrated 15 years in the publishing business, has, from its first two titles – by Joseph Roth and Marisa Madieri – built up a catalogue that, in the words of its publisher, Valeria Bergalli, has “a marked interest in European culture, in an artistic heritage that has never known frontiers and in writers that, at decisive moments, deciphered the signs of the times with extraordinary sensitivity”. Thus, it has opted for authors such as Varlam Shalámov, Giani Stuparich, Gertrude Stein, Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Hans Keilson, Svetislav Basara, Pierre Bergounioux, Rachel Bespaloff and Shirley Jackson. Coinciding with its tenth anniversary, it launched a collection in Catalan, in which it has published Anton Chekhov, Dacia Maraini and Ferdinando Camon, among other authors.
In the case of the Dutch publisher Lebowski, it combines the publication of contemporary Dutch authors with classics such as Natsume Sooseki, Gaito Gazdanov, Erich Kästner and Cornelis Bastiaan Vaandrager and established 20th century names in American letters such as Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and Charles Bukowski.
Sajalín is, of the five publishers that were present at the round table, the youngest of all. Its mission is very clear: “to publish in Spanish unpublished or forgotten works of the best contemporary foreign narrative”. In just five years, it has enabled its readers to discover the work of Edward Bunker, Seumas O’Kelly, Osamu Dazai, Kenneth Cook, Edlef Köppen, Beppe Fenoglio and Luigi Bartolini. It has recently incorporated novels by Waguih Ghali and Dambudzo Marechera.
The “Unknown Classics” round table was part of the Schwob project, which aims to make better known around Europe some forty books of high literary quality that have rarely been translated, including titles by Miklós Banffy, Tibor Déry, Kees Bordewijk, Víctor Català and Álvaro Cunqueiro. The session was followed by a second debate focused on writers who have started to open up a pathway recently. This is the case of Marina Espasa, Yannick Garcia, Jenn Díaz and David Gálvez. Espasa made her debut in 2012 with the novel La dona que es va perdre (Empúries), and publisedh her second book, El dia del cérvol (L’Altra) on 2015. Garcia, who became known with De dalt i de baix (Edicions 62), a book of poems that won the Gabriel Ferrater Prize in 2003, has returned after a parenthesis of nearly a decade with the collections of short stories Barbamecs (Cossetània, 2012) and La nostra vida vertical (L’Altra, 2014): the latter having won the Documenta Prize. Jenn Díaz is the youngest of the four authors – she is only 28 years old and, surprisingly, she is also the most published: Mare i filla (Amsterdam, 2015) is already her fifth novel, the first written in Catalan. Meanwhile Gálvez, born in Vilanova i la Geltrú but resident in Andorra, presented a first singular and very daring novel, Cartes mortes (Males Herbes), and has recentry published Res no és real (Males Herbes).
Watch the debate in this video.