What follows is a short travel log about our recent trip to Uruguay, culled from a couple emails I’d sent out during and after the trip, then caulked together here and there.
Nov 11, 2013
The weather has been good, though rainy and humid at times, and our hotel faces the Mar de Plata. Today (Monday), we did see the Atlantic (which the Rio de La Plata joins up with) on the way to Maldonado to record at Grabación’s MT Estudio, but it was misty & foggy, not much to see aside from the rocky cliffs where waves crashed. They used to have a whaling station there, but not anymore. There at the scenic ocean lookout, John bought me a Xmas gift of an amethyst bracelet today. He’ll save it back for our holiday gifting session.
In Maldonado we recorded poetry performances with Juan Italiano and Luis Bravo and a couple musicians: Santiago Olivera on saxophone and Damián Taveira on drumset. A couple “first takes” turned out really great, partly due to Italiano’s instructions to improvise and use whatever poems of ours we wanted to. I surprised myself by voicing some interesting improvisational sounds as John and Luis Bravo improvised with their own works, bits and pieces perhaps, at whim. Juan Angel Italiano played instruments and did some vocals. After the recording session Juan Italiano took us to his house and made a great pasta meal for us, follow by coffee- it REALLY hit the spot after days of eating out in restaurants in Montevideo. The quality time spent with Bravo and Italiano was invaluable during this trip! Here is a slide show of photos taken by Luis’ sister, Sylvia Bravo, during the big “Luis Bravo, John M. Bennett” performance at the CCE on Saturday in Montevideo, which was preceded by a reading by Ben Clark from Spain. Slides of visual poetry by John were shown during the performance, and vispo by me was shown during a performance break when they played a cut from the AREÑAL CD. Juan and I did some Be Blank Consort parts and did some sound effects for one piece. There is a photo of Gustavo Wojciechowski (nickname: Maca) holding up the CD because he published and released it on the day of this performance. The musician to the left of Luis Bravo is Alejandro Tuana, who sang a bit too in the final performance … a really wonderful ending!
Uruguay, Chile, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, Morocco, Spain, Cuba, England, and France are some of countries represented by poets in this ten day Mundial Poético event. We haven’t seen/met everyone, as some of the events overlap. We really enjoyed the four Brazilian poets and Julien D’Abrigeon from France [and later on, the finale performance of Mundial Poético at Sala Verdi was given by Raúl Zurita of Chile and was met with standup applause from all! ].
Nov 17, 2013
El Mundial Poético was bursting with performance events – including a nice one by Clemente Padin – who I had to follow with a fluxus piece of my own. My Spanish was awful but the action was the main thing in any case. After the short action, I asked the audience to approach my table where I stamped each person’s hand and gave them my “A Square is a Circle” handout, which John had translated into Spanish. That event happened in front of the contemporary art museum where three of my vispo videos were shown along with videos by others, in a loop from 2 pm until about 7 pm … I was actually there for the last showing of the day of my longer video and so I took a bow after it. Aside from five performances I took part in during the festival, we also performed short pieces for a local TV station and John did a 52 min. radio interview hosted by Pablo Silva, along with Luis Bravo also commenting about AREÑAL: ene topos bilingües & other sounds- the CD they released at the CCE show -CLICK HERE FOR SHORT VIDEO- last Saturday. John also talked about and read from his book OLVIDOS. For my TV spot I read five short cinquains in English with John reading his Spanish translations of each.
Now we are enjoying a few days of relaxation by the Rio De La Plata in a small resort town called Las Flores, which is about an hour from Montevideo here in Uruguay. After a walk on the beach, we ate a great fish dinner at a restaurant with Juan Angel Italiano (our treat since he had fed us so well at his place on Nov. 11th!). Italiano set up his video camera and recorded us performing poetry readings. Glad I had a chance to read a few pieces from my book What It Says because it was one thing I’d neglected to perform during El Mundial Poético en Montevideo. See Italiano’s YouTube channel at eDcvisual to view some of these videos. Also, Juan Angel Italiano helped us perform a group of collaborative cinquains, as he had collaborated with us on a number of them. After we’d read through the cinquains in my little notebook, I turned the page to an asemic poem I’d doodled which neither John nor Juan had ever seen before. We all improvised together automatically from this piece:
HERE is a direct link to the resulting performance of this asemic poem.
Martín Barrea Mattos was MC and the primary organizer for El Mundial Poético, and he kindly invited us to stay on a few days for free at his mother’s second house in Las Flores. She’s staying in her studio next door on this lot while we are in the main house, as she’s painting a couple large abstract canvases. We often see her through the window working in her garden of flowers and fruit trees. Her name is Cecilia Mattos and she does beautiful works which often incorporate a rabbit character in a landscape, or as sculpture in beautiful gardens which she designs for institutions, for example – hospitals. The rabbit appears in various moods which can sometimes be quite dark but more often seem tranquil. Paula Ilabaca Núñez from Chile shared the house with us and stayed on longer as she had a residency to work on a writing project there, following her participation in El Mundial Poético. Her poems were interesting, she had performed well too.
The day before we left, Luis Bravo and Laura took us to her parent’s home where her father was busy behind the house barbecuing meat and fresh fish (WOW was it ever delicious!) while their twin boys kicked the soccer ball around. Then they gave us the tour of Piriapólis (the name of the resort comes from the last name of this visionary guy, Piria), a bit of the zoo, and we watched the sun set from up on a hill where Laura’s parents have a smaller house with lots of varieties of rose bushes, all in full bloom. Laura’s mother asked her to cut a bouquet of roses for me while we were there. Here is a photo of the roses I had to leave behind in Las Flores when we left for the airport. At least Paula and Cecilia were still there to enjoy them.
Nov. 19th, 2013
It’s nice to be back in our own home, bed, and country, but #@!# it’s COLD here in Ohio! We brought lots of books back with us from Montevideo; from the multitude of book stores there, books of poetry given to us by the other poets (of course, John gave many books away as well in trade), and Cecilia Mattos gave us a book in which her son, Martín, had written poems for each of her paintings. To view a set of my Montevideo photos see the album on my facebook page or go to my Flickr site set by clicking HERE. Included are probably TOO MANY photos from Le Gaucho Museo, because a collector friend, Scott Williams, had asked me to look for postcards about Uruguayan cowboys, but I couldn’t find any in the tourist shops or at the outdoor flea markets, nor did the cowboy museum sell postcards, so thought we’d show him the museum via photos instead. And as an aside, Scott, you can click HERE for a fun video about a gaucho related project that Cecilia Mattos did with a group of school children!
Then click HERE for a more focused & mundane video I shot in the bathroom at Cecilia’s house, when the washer was running. [Be sure to wait for the 2nd cycle, as there’s a long pause before 1st cycle ends.] I’ve had both good and bad feedback about this laundry video – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Try approaching it as an abstract composition that is constantly in flux. Be lulled by circular motion/sound and then surprised by starts and stops in motion/sound. The “Three Cycles” are the result of applying three different digital effects – OK it’s not rocket science, but I enjoyed the simple processing steps and just layed it out there for you… clean and simple.