Category Archives: Uncategorized

La Fototeca Nacional (Pachuca, Hidalgo)

Posted by Jason Ahlenius — PhD Student of Spanish and Portuguese at NYU

Examining photo negatives at the Fototeca Nacional in Pachuca

She grew impatient when I did it for the second time. «¡Ay! Por favor, no hagas eso». Please don’t do that. But I did it. I broke the rules. I touched the photographic originals. I desecrated Mexico’s visual patrimony.

I have finally before me a physical object from the archive, a national relic, and it is as if the object itself is reaching out to me to connect with it, to make an affective connection through the body. Yet like the disciplinary-religious space of the art museum, however, there is an invisible barrier between my unclean hands and the sacred object. I retract my hands. I can only make the connection through the visual field.

Lo siento. Sorry. I reply.

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Sonidos de la ciudad

Posted by Bethany Pennington – MA Candidate at NYU CLACS

Roma por Alfonso Cuarón recibió mucha atención por los sonidos que empleó en la creación de la película. Según Sergio Díaz, el director de sonido de la película, los sonidos fueron grabados en las calles de México contemporáneo e interpolados en el escenario, el cual replicaba la ciudad de los ‘70.  Viviendo en esta gran ciudad, paseando por la Roma, o transitando por las venas subterráneas del metro, uno se da cuenta por qué: los sonidos de la vida diaria son únicos a la Ciudad de México. 

En mis primeras semanas aquí en México, intenté grabar los sonidos de la ciudad que uno escucha durante su rutina diaria: vendedores en el metro, los músicos que pasan mientras comes en una corrida, las grabaciones en audio que te avisan que una comida rica está cerca. Resulta que casi todos los sonidos que llenan el oído en la Ciudad de México están destinados a vender. Por todos lados los sonidos y las voces – a veces amplificados por micrófonos inalámbricos, pero más frecuentemente el resultado de mucha práctica proyectando la voz – están empleadas para ganarse la vida.  

En el metro, las ventas parecen ser cantos, ofuscados un poco por el ruido del metro y los muchos cuerpos que llenan los carros. Cómo ya hay wifi gratis en el metro y muchos llevan su celular para ver series en video o contemplar Facebook en sus viajes matutinos, las ventas son muchas veces de cables, audífonos, u otros accesorios para celulares.

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The Art of (not) Finding: El Archivo Fotográfico Manuel Toussaint

Posted by Jason Ahlenius – Ph.D. student in Spanish and Portuguese at NYU

Un facsímile del Códice Azteca del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas

I have begun to see a pattern in my “explorations” of Mexico’s archives: I arrive at the archive, and spend several days figuring out how to gain access to the archive, or searching through the catalog, only to have someone tell me that they have digitalized most of their collection, and that I could have done this work without leaving NYC. I leave disheartened that I was denied the chance to do the “sexy” work of digging through a physical archive with my latex gloves and a mask. This was more or less my experience at my first visit to the Archivo Fotográfico Manuel Toussaint, located in the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas (IIE) of the UNAM in Mexico City.

I began, rather idealistically, with an idea of archival research similar to that of a treasure map: I have a more or less clear idea of what I am looking for, and I follow a series of instructions to arrive at the “X” on the map, where my archive is hidden. My actual experience is often more akin to being dropped in the middle of a forest, not knowing exactly what I will find, while I am trying to make a map of my surroundings as I am trying to arrive at a city of whose whereabouts I am oblivious.

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An escape from CDMX

Posted by Leo Schwartz – MA Candidate at CLACS / Global Journalism at NYU

Mexico City epitomizes the urban sprawl: endless avenues more traffic than pavement, Russian doll neighborhoods boomeranging between high-end condos and lower-class housing, waves of smog rolling through the dry lake bed. In other words, every clichéd piece of language one could use to describe a mega-city. Having been here for five weeks (just kidding…I’m doing this blog post on time, two weeks after I arrived), I needed an escape from the city. Luckily, a couple friends were headed for a trip to Tepoztlán, one of the towns with the coveted “pueblo mágico” designation in the bordering state of Morelos, and for the sake of my sanity and my respiratory system, I eagerly tagged along. As my thesis is still being reported out—and of course includes some top-secret bombshells that I’m keeping closely under wraps—I’m writing a travelogue (I apologize).

To avoid the crowds, we met at the southern transportation hub of Tasqueña bright and early: 7 am. Mexico City—CDMX, DF, whatever you want to call it these days—is as worthy of the distinction “the city that never sleeps” as New York, with a much more robust informal economy of street stands hawking pretty much anything you could want at any hour. We hopped on a bus and headed out of the city, steadily climbing in altitude as early-morning fog shaded the surrounding mountain ranges and volcanos (which I was assured were not active) with an ethereal glow.

Tepoztlan

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NYU hosts Indocumentales screenings in November

 

1Relaunch -Indocumentales

The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies NYU, Cinema Tropical, and the World Council of Peoplesfor the United Nations / What Moves You?, will host the latest installation of  “INDOCUMENTALES: A Film and Conversation Series Exploring Latin American Migrant Experiences in the United States,” on Thurs., Nov. 15 and Tues., Nov. 27 6-9pm, at NYU’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center’s auditorium (53 Washington Square South.

INDOCUMENTALES will include a Nov. 15 screening of David Riker’s critically acclaimed “La Ciudad” (1998), followed on Nov. 27 by Jim McKay’s most recent feature, “En El Séptimo Día” (2018).

Twenty years between their releases, the films nevertheless employ similar narrative structures and production models: both are filmed on location in New York, in Spanish, with primarily non-professional actors. Both films speak to the struggle of newly arrived Latin American migrants for survival, respect, and meaning in unfamiliar territories.

Both screenings are followed by panel discussions meant to bring together filmmakers, scholars, activists, policy makers, and community representatives. The discussion will be conducted in English.

“La Ciudad” (David Riker, 1998, 88 min. In Spanish, English, and Korean with English subtitles)

LaCiudad

Four gritty stories chronicle the Latino immigrant experience in New York City. In the first, desperate day laborers risk their lives working in unsafe conditions for low pay. Then, newcomer Francisco (Cipriano Garcia) gets a respite from loneliness when he meets a kindhearted woman. Next, homeless puppeteer Luis (Jose Rabelo) battles bureaucracy to register his daughter for school. Finally, garment worker Ana (Silvia Goiz) struggles for the paycheck that could save her sick daughter’s life.

Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E0gXl-oGWw

“En El Septimo Dia” (Jim McKay, 2018, 92 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

SeptimoDia

 

En el Séptimo Día is a fiction feature following a group of undocumented immigrants living in Sunset Park, Brooklyn over the course of seven days. Bicycle delivery guys, construction workers, dishwashers, deli workers, and cotton candy vendors, they work long hours six days a week and then savor their day of rest on Sundays on the soccer fields of Sunset Park. José, a bicycle delivery worker, is the team’s captain – young, talented, hardworking and responsible. When José’s team makes it to the finals, he and his teammates are thrilled. But his boss throws a wrench into the celebration when he tells José he has to work on Sunday, the day of the finals. José tries to reason with his boss or replace himself, but his efforts fail. If he doesn’t work on Sunday, his job and his future will be on the line. But if he doesn’t stand up for himself and his teammates, his dignity will be crushed. Shot in the neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Park Slope, and Gowanus, En el Séptimo Día is a humane, sensitive, and humorous window into a world rarely seen. The film’s impact is made quietly, with restraint and respect for the individual experiences, everyday challenges, and small triumphs of its characters.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYg3mAJTWSE

 

CLACS continues “Latin America’s 1968” series with Tropicália legend Tom Zé

TomZe

In Latin America, 1968 marked the apogee of the social, political, and cultural transformations that had been unfolding in the wake of the 1959 Cuban Revolution. To mark the 50th anniversary of this momentous year, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) offers a film and lecture series that will explore and celebrate its significance in the region.

The first two events of the series focused on cinema, featuring screenings of new films by the Argentine director Albertina Carri and the Chilean director Javier Correa. 

On November 5th, CLACS will host a public dialogue with the Brazilian musician and composer Tom Zé, a foundational figure of Tropicália movement of 1968, a brief but powerful movement in music, theatre, film, and visual art. Known for his juxtaposition of avant-garde poetics and popular music, Zé’s music and performance is steeped in irony and social critique. Having launched his career with Tropicália, he fell from public view as he continued to develop more experimental pop music. In the 1990s, he regained international visibility with the release of a compilation of his work from the 70s and two innovative albums featuring new material. He continues to perform and lives in São Paulo. Tom Zé will be in conversation with professor Christopher Dunn of Tulane University, the leading scholar of Tropicália and Brazilian culture of the 1960s and 70s.

Events are held at NYU’s King Juan Carlos Center, 53 Washington Square South, at 6:30PM. Advance tickets are available and are required for entry.

Chilean Popular Poetry and Biblical Psalms (II)

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Central Valley of Chile

by Fernanda Martinez Varela, MA scholar at MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish. 

 

RESULTS

Similarities

a) Context of use

Some psalms and a particular type of the Cantus to the divine have its use in ceremonies and community celebrations. The Cantus to the divine based on the “Angel’s farewell” refers to those songs that are performed after the death of a baby during his wake in order to alleviate the sadness of the parents through singing. It is a celebration because is assumed that the boy or girl will go directly to heaven since he or she is free from sin. On the other hand, in biblical psalms we can find some texts that have their use in ceremonies and feasts. Psalms 114, 115, 116, 117, 135 have their use during Easter; psalm 118 during the Pentecost; psalm 47 during the New Year… This resemblance may be due to the fact that both songs are connected by their ritual nature, which, according to the RAE, is related to ceremonies by custom that are performed with a sacred character. In the case of “Angel’s farewell”, the passage from life to death; in the psalms, in general, the festivities highlighted by Christianity.

b) Past and present

The tradition that is updated in those who pray or sing is important in both discourses. In the Cantus to the divine is the tradition that contributes to knowledge, since the songs are transmitted from generation to generation, but is also the tradition updated in the singers according to the situation where the enunciation takes place. For example, in the “Angel’s farewell” the song is updated to comfort the mother who suffers because the death of her son/daughter; the mother is named, the guests are greeted, etc. On the other hand, in the biblical psalms, is the man´s experience with god what is transmitted to the next generation but it is also updated because is the prayer who shares from his present the experience transmitted by the text. Thus, both come together in a common religious feeling. Regarding the above, Collin (1997) writes: “El salmo es un poema bíblico, es decir, un instrumento para recordar la tradición de un pueblo; es un instrumento que todo usuario recibe y que debe tomar en la mano y agarrarlo con fuerza” (p.7).