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Latin America literature celebrated at Salihara festival

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Mon, October 9, 2017  /  04:38 pm
Latin America literature celebrated at Salihara festival

"Xalisco Performative Exhibition: Juan Preciado" is based on 'Pedro Paramo,' a novel by Juan Rulfo. (JP /Ni Nyoman Wira)

Originally published in 1955, Pedro Pâramo by Juan Rulfo is one of the most popular pieces of classic Mexican literature. It narrates the story of Juan Preciado, who is asked by his deceased mother to search for his father in her hometown in Comala, which turns out to have become a ghost town.

The novel is brought to life at "Xalisco Performative Exhibition: Juan Preciado," the result of collaboration between Ines Somellera, a Mexican artistic platform director for art projects at Empu Sendok Arts Station (ESAS), and Hanafi, an Indonesian artist.

Set in a round venue, visitors can expect to observe how Hanafi views Pedro P'ramo. Set in a round venue, visitors can expect to observe how Hanafi views Pedro P'ramo. (JP /Ni Nyoman Wira)

The exhibition, which runs until Oct. 28 at the Salihara Gallery in South Jakarta, is part of Komunitas Salihara's (Salihara Community) Literature & Ideas Festival 2017 (LIFEs) that focuses on Latin America with "Viva! Reborn!" as its theme.

Set in a round venue, visitors can expect to observe how Hanafi views Pedro Pâramo. Upon stepping into the gallery, visitors are suggested to begin from the left side where they can view seven tainted shirts that represent shirts worn by Preciado during his search for his father. Other interesting objects include a white bed frame, a mural and random quotes from the book.

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Some of the shirts exhibited at 'Xalisco Performative Exhibition: Juan Preciado'.Some of the shirts exhibited at 'Xalisco Performative Exhibition: Juan Preciado'. (JP /Ni Nyoman Wira)

Hanafi told The Jakarta Post on Saturday that he worked on the objects by seeing the book instead of reading it. “And I wasn’t the one who saw it; my fingers did. They moved by themselves – I let them not judge whether it was right or not – it just happened in an instant,” Hanafi said, adding that the creation process took two to three months. “[…] I didn’t proceed toward Juan Rulfo’s poetic elements; I [just] wanted to connect the story.”

Meanwhile, Somellera said the exhibition was a way to celebrate writer Juan Rulfo. “I think it’s very important to have this opportunity to introduce [Rulfo] to those who don’t know him,” Somellera added.

Indonesian artist Hanafi explains the displays at Indonesian artist Hanafi explains the displays at "Xalisco Performative Exhibition: Juan Preciado." (JP /Ni Nyoman Wira)

Additionally, the festival also features workshops, forums, performances and other programs. Among the performers at the event are Berto Tukan, Dewi Candraningrum, Carmen Boullosa, F. Aziz Manna, Nirwan Dewanto, Pablo Jofré and Victor Heringer. 

Held for 21 days, LIFEs 2017 is said to be the new format of Komunitas Salihara’s Literary Biennale. The festival director Ayu Utami said they wanted to expand the scope to not only celebrate literature but also ideas in general. Moreover, compared to previous events where the main themes were more focused on ideas, this time they tried to focus on one literary identity.

“[This festival] aims to assist readers to explore the world of literature […] so when they meet the writers, they will be able to ask sharper questions,” said Ayu, adding that there were many reasons why Latin America was selected, such as its comparable history and experiences to Indonesia with colonialism, the Cold War, military regimes and democracy and environmental issues. (kes)