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Spanish inquest II: surPrize! None of This Is Real, Madrid

madrid airport

Madrid airport

Real quick like, as real life is surpassing blogging life .. bunching up on itself.... in Singapore now [actually, now Timor Leste] but this post is about Madrid & what went down there .. & what i read & saw art-wise.

After NYC we flew to Madrid, but then went straight to Barcelona without even leaving the airport. After Barcelona we flew back to MAD, so j could receive her long-awaited prize that i've been alluding to & can now finally reveal the details of .... for real!

The first few days while j was in meetings & interviews & luncheons, i wandered around but didn't take any photos or anything like that, as we were in Madrid just last year doing more touristy/arty/5censory things (though looking now, it seems then i was amidst my photography moratorium) .. but i did revisit the Reina Sofia museum. Besides the permanent likes of Picassoes (including Guernica) & Miróes & Twomblies, there were some special new exhibits .... there was an exhibit of María Blanchard & some pieces by Richard Serra .. & an exhibit on counter-culture & punk & protest art in Spain & Latin America in the 1980s.

Isidore Isou

Isidore Isou

Most notable was a special exhibit on Artaud & the language artists of the 1950s that attempted to transcend the limits of language .. including a bunch of stuff by Isidore Isou & other Lettrist & hypergraphic artists .. & also stuff by John Cage, including the original 'score' for 4'33". .

Gabriel Pomerand

Gabriel Pomerand

Anyway, this was all a distraction for the big event at hand .. we've known about it for some time, but November 26th it was finally made official .... that j received this prize called the Premio Daniel Carasso.

I didn't take photos or videos of the event since there plenty of photographers & videographers & i just wanted to enjoy the moment. But here's a short movie they played before j went up to accept the award, that has made our last weekend in Rome (so shows a lot of our friends & old haunts):

And here's j receiving the prize:

jess fanzo carasso prize

So yeah, it was cool. From a good cause, for a good cause. So proud of j for such recognition. Not only does the Carasso foundation support work in sustainable diets & links between agriculture & nutrition, but they also support the arts .... so they were happy to know that j's prize would indirectly help to fund Calamari Press.

This was followed by two nights of celebration & eating lots of cured swine & drinking lots of wine & cava .... the last night we went to Casa Lucio, which was probably the best meal we had in Madrid (which is not saying much coming from me .. as i'm not crazy about Spanish food .... except, ok, the olives & manchego cheese rock .. & those fried padrón peppers..).

And no where have i seen so many black cats as Madrid.

The area we were staying (swanky Salamanca) was not the best for running, being that it wasn't near parks .. but the avenues are wide & they have wide sidewalks running down the middle. Ran past the Real Madrid soccer stadium a few times .. up to those two buildings at a slant like they are falling into eachother.

We parted ways with everyone sort of one by one .. & eventually j & i were back to being our nimble, peregrinating selves .. hopping a plane first to Heathrow to have fish & chips & Guinness & then to Singapore, British Air.

None of This is Real by Miranda Mellis

Along the way, i read None of This Is Real by Miranda Mellis. I'd been meaning to get the book & when we were in NYC last week i met her for an enchilada & beer .. & she kindly gave me a copy (though i missed her subsequent reading).

Miranda has her own thing going for sure .. a certain style that was evident back in the first book of hers i published .. a dreamy rebellion against institutionalized norms & bureaucracy .. but more absurdist than snarky or satirical. Like maybe William Kentridge translated in words.

«The old school believed the antidote for despair was courage, she said, but the real anti to the dote is a comforting distortion; this is what I call somatic realism.»

.... this 'comforting distortion' being a certain body position the characters put themselves into as a sort of coping mechanism.

«I prefer positions to declarations» .. i think was also said. And with this 'Mellistic' style & voice, comes a lot of the tell-tale apocalyptic & dystopian themes .... where theme & voice come intertwined & self-feeding into 'fictions' .. into cataloguing & caterwauling literature .. that serves to flesh out the encyclopedic corpus that is Miranda Mellis.

«He was paralyzed by the messy, sorrowful wilderness of all that content and he would not get over the feeling that the documents spoke best for themselves, like geological strata, or the ephemera under glass at his library; they only asked to be interpreted and studied. How could he improve upon storied truth?»

Even at its most surreal & absurd, there's a certain conviction to the prose she strings together (just as in dreams), that makes it all seem real. And it all is, isn't it? Or not. Vague enough that you can incorporate it into your reality, without being forced along some contrived character arc or plot. Like how would the character (a girl) named Lutz junior be received by Gary Lutz? And in the mindset of working/thinking about West of Kingdom Come, i honed in on sentences like:

«He stood for a time on the station platform looking at the crops. But he could gather no understanding. At last he slumped down below the rodeo sign and shucked off his corpus, a specter rippled out, heading west to the sea.»

Or, amidst our current real-world stint of homeless peregrination, i could relate to other passages like this:

«My true passion is the unknown, he said, but he was nowhere near capable of enduring the real boredom inherent in any adventure. His heart ached as he planned planned a trip, and the trip itself in a distant country was nothing in the end, compared to sitting in one's own chair, turned to meat by the hearth.»

 >> next: Singapore fling: The People Who Watched us pass by in SIN from fake plastic trees

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