A girl walks down the street while the woman she has become looks at her from afar. She prefers not to approach, because she seems calm. After so many years, there are bullets covered by his eyelids. This is Nivaria Tejera, the author of El Barranco. His work has inspired the project of the same name that offers a multidisciplinary reinterpretation combining video art, performance, documentary and film essay by the five Canarian creators and filmmakers Silvia Navarro, Daniasa Curbelo, Macu Machín, Estrella Monterrey Viña and Violeta Gil Quintana.
Estrella Monterrey is the cause of this shed. One day, she decided to give several copies of the novel to her friends so that they could discover, as she had done, the heartbreaking poetry of Nivaria Tejera. Surprised by how little knowledge there was in her circle, she decided that she had to be brought to the present with diverse and unique languages given by contemporary reflection on sexuality, the colonial or the outermost distance.
A similar adventure had occurred years before with the exhibition Lancelot 28º-7º Isla discovered by writer from Tenerife Agustín Espinosa in Lanzarote, thought the sociologist and filmmaker from Palma, so the challenge was not to tremble in the face of vertigo.
The project, sponsored by the Canarian Institute for Cultural Development of the Government of the Canary Islands, was presented this week at the Guiniguada Theater, in Gran Canaria, and will travel to Espacio La Granja, in Tenerife, next Wednesday 26, with the writer, poet and journalist Aida González. It will have the presence of the five filmmakers together with the specialist María Hernández Ojeda. In addition, the set of the work has a promotional piece made by Claudia Torres and a poster designed by Omaira Díaz.
Five audiovisual works to unpick the paragraphs with elements that go through the whole: the testimonial voice, the gender perspective, the rural exodus and a feeling battered by horror. The only restriction: five minutes in length. "The idea was warming up, kept in a drawer," Estrella Monterrey smiles through the telephone. Now it's ready.
I am back from a remote site.
The young filmmakers pursue the ramifications of violence until they sink with them in the rugged lands of the island, thus, the visual artist Silvia Navarro faced the anguish of the state of war from the corporeal experience. The sound is transformed into barbarism and moves away from the familiar timbres, "the sound and the delirium of a fever suffered by the protagonist seemed to me, from the first reading, inspiring elements from which to work", says Navarro.
With the support given from the acoustic design with the musicians José Tena Vázquez and Tasio Paciencia, the Tenerife artist reflects on the authority of male, white and heterosexual bodies that have imposed their world “through death and violence”. One is trapped by the negative developments, thus, the minutes pass and some schoolgirls in white uniforms, pure and foreign, do gymnastics in the open air, colliding with the military marches and the faceless homogeneous masses.
They are two representations that confront the discourse of power, «that sovereign body leaves a residue in each one of us, so proposals like this one open spaces for reflection and deconstruction to not only talk about what was, but how that past inhabits in each one of us, in each gesture. The past inhabits us like a virus, quietly reproducing its rules," he writes from a distance.
They got in there so they wouldn't get caught.
A yūrei wanders like a banshee, floats over the earth and is not affected by the disappointments of the living but relives what happened. That ghostly silhouette covered in red is the element with which the interdisciplinary artist and gender specialist Daniasa Curbelo orbits around the giant cardón of her hometown, Buenavista del Norte, in Tenerife. "That historic cactus is a kind of cultural container due to the number of experiences and situations that have occurred at its feet."
A symbol of the municipality and its people, legends and rumors of the civil war also run around it, in addition to the cries of the children who battle in its arms without fear, "I refer to that time when fear and the persecution was established against those who did not share the incipient fascist regime».
It prevents the spikes from getting under the nails, despite returning to urban or natural spaces "which have this type of footprint marked by memory, by resistance or by violence that little by little seems to fade into a clear general trend that invites us to look to the future and forget where we come from».
The child's gaze, reviled in the adult imaginary, is the greatest value of the work. Nivaria Tejera signed a sincere pact with the reader by telling him that her father, Saturnino Tejera, had been a political victim of reprisal. Because of those nightmares, she wrote on page 31: “Warwarwar, she whispers hidden. The war makes the aunt, the grandfather, the mother cry, and it does not let dad come back.
A fact that Daniasa Curbelo deeply appreciates. "Approaching this chapter of the past of the Canary Islands from the eyes of a child is quite a challenge against that historical paradigm that describes what happened from masculine, privileged and, of course, adult visions."
Here we were.
The producer, director and screenwriter Macu Machín records her family. Three generations that pick oranges, look at the rain behind the window, remain silent when the fog closes them in the house and look for memories in coffee cups. It seems that nothing has changed in this corner that escapes the city while the tights reflect that the years are different, despite the customs. He uses the four chambers he has had throughout his life “with the desire to make permanent something that by nature is not permanent. In a very impressionistic way." She stares at her mother in the distance, as if converted into the child she once was. He shouts a few words at her, follows her, and in that dynamic where the intuitive predominated, he decided to follow in the footsteps of Nivaria, who «represents the world around him from the poetic». The language that Tejera uses during the plot is spontaneous since it attends to the emotions of childhood.
On the other hand, «the geographical space in the novel is very important as a protagonist and witness. I also have my own ravine. So I decided, quite unconsciously, to represent it through daydreaming," says Machín. He moved his body home and, as in war, notes the irreducible passage of time, «in my case the twist is more subtle, the one imposed by old age. This short is a reaffirmation at different levels: perhaps that place is no longer as it was, perhaps we ourselves are not, however, we were there and we were able to share it». Nivaria Tejera left behind the greenery of La Laguna when she settled in Paris, but she could always remember it again in her childhood memories thanks to "a look that becomes epidermal": "You don't need too much historical data to be able to feel and understand how we affects a war in the deepest. It seems to me that it achieves in a beautiful way, making us dive under the appearance of things».
The squawk of a magpie, a siren, a heartbeat, are intermingled. It is a common mark in the five pieces: the sound floods the plot as closely as the nervous breathing that waits for the nightmares to pass. Audiovisual communicator Violeta Gil Quintana works in this game of light and shadow. Go down to the San Lorenzo ravine, where the virgins have their rocky temples and the sorceresses dictate their spells.
«It is an invitation to perceive the ravine, the natural space, as if it were the mind of the protagonist girl. As the short film progresses, the mind/ravine is corrupted through sounds, images and symbols, and I use the poetics of everyday elements and nature, which build new ways of perceiving reality and creating new signifiers. », spins.
The poet Pino Ojeda wrote "my heart has been thrown into all the ravines of your island." Inhospitable and lost, this geographical accident offers a myriad of mirrors that are broken in the background. «Fear, silence, isolation and resignation become part of the daily life of those who live in and with war. Something that could be perfectly compared to what is happening right now in times of a pandemic, ”reflects Violeta Gil.
There are common places turned into tombs, the grays walked there at the same time that Nivaria looked for her father's laugh. Lanzarote, Buenavista, the San Lorenzo ravine… Or Tanqueabajo. Perhaps where the Virgen de la Milagrosa is today are the bones of the firing squads recounted in the novel or, perhaps, the organic remains fill the tanks of the cars that go to the gas station with oil. Tanqueabajo no longer exists, now the picture of San Cristóbal de La Laguna is different in contrast to the one lived by the girl. Grandpa doesn't tan leather or smoke. From that smell, try to catch something Monterey Star.
“In the book, he loses his innocence as he becomes aware of all the events. Many times with childhood we believe that they are not capable of seeing beyond, but their sensitivity makes them suffer, reflect and think about what happens, as Andrea Abreu showed with Panza de burro, reflects a less mythologized childhood, "he says. The voiceover will help future generations to enjoy this story without complexes and discover the signs of the past.
Through a voice note, the specialist María Hernández knows that, if she had been sitting between the seats, "Nivaria would be very excited." She was a difficult woman to meet although, from the memories they shared, the professor at Hunter College in New York treasures her intense gaze, "she had a lot of anguish in her eyes." Now, Daniasa Curbelo and the others are part of the author's legacy. He sees certain parallels in the civil polarization that exists in the midst of crises. In this dichotomy, she underlines, "accusation, ridicule and violence before dialogue, are the perfect breeding ground for the outbreak of civil conflicts," she points out, and Silvia Navarro alludes to the passage of the girl's fever to contextualize " what does it mean to live under a fear that you keep silent, under constant harassment».
Macu Machín agrees with this, describing contemporaneity as a strange moment that “forces us to understand what is happening to us from a deeper and more empathetic place. That which was under the surface has surfaced and is confronting us with something we had refused to imagine." For its part, Monterrey fears repeating hackneyed messages, but they are still valid. “It is important to remember so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past. That is the teaching of El barranco: keep in mind the testimony of that girl so that it does not happen again».
This has been an adventure for the components of the project. In addition to giving a boost to Canarian film production signed by a woman, the filmmakers agree in admitting that it has been a double fortune since they have rediscovered the book and have expanded its possibilities by dialoguing with each other with their respective gazes, «with different discourses we have woven our own ravines”, points out Macu Machín.
In her last years, Tejera lived isolated in a studio with the painter Antón González. “I have wonderful memories, and those evenings helped me understand why I wrote in such an experimental way,” says Hernández. In turn, she insists that the Cuban writer "never wrote a word to sell books." For this reason, the fact that this tribute to her figure is being made now brings back memories of 2008, when she organized a talk together with the Cervantes Institute that Tejera attended, «on that occasion she said that only time could assess her work and discover if he left a mark. Undoubtedly, it has.