Mesa de Libros

A Year of Books from Spain

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Spain’s Simulated Foreigners

At the beginning of my year in Madrid, I have been interested in how certain presumptions and stereotypes about Spain look to a foreigner from within. (This interest was further fueled by reading Ben Lerner’s wonderful novel about an American poet’s year-long stay in Madrid Leaving the Atocha Station)


A related phenomenon is how such presumptions and stereotypes are simulated within the country, and how the projection of a foreigner’s perspective can offer a means for self-critique of the country. Two books I found in Bilbao looked at this phenomenon from very different angles.


The first, Javier Cejas’ Spain for the Foreigners is a hilarious self-critical send-up of the inside view on Spain, but written in purposefully bad English (with a cleaned-up, Spanish translation at the back) amid a series of roughly drawn cartoons, like this one about the Guardia Civil:

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Cejas also...

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Guidebooks: reconstructing performance, memorializing exhibitions

The first few books I have found here in Madrid all, in some way, explore the ideas of reconstruction and memorialization. How can performances or interventions on the streets of the city be not only recorded and documented, but also energized and reactivated? How can the exhibition be at one time an archive but also a more dynamic site of memory?

The performances of Isidoro Valcárcel Medina, from the mid 1960s to the early 1990s, from Murcia to Paris, Buenos Aires to New York, have been recreated in a new series of photographs of the artist in the streets of Madrid. Each photograph has then been used as the impetus for a story about it, which range from creative fictions to more documentary descriptions of the original performance.

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I found the relocation of earlier performances to the streets of Madrid, in which I was finding my bearings, a compelling introduction to Medina’s work...

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Mesa de Libros @ the Wexner Store

The Wexner Center Store Website now has a page devoted to Mesa de Libros - you can visit it here

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The list of titles on art and culture in Spain will be expanding over my last days in Columbus and the physical mesa de libros will be set up in the Store by early August, before I depart for Madrid.

Watch this space!

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Welcome to my new blog that will report on books on the visual arts and other related topics that I discover while living in Spain for a year.

My name is Richard Fletcher and I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Classics at Ohio State University, spending my sabbatical-year from August 2014 to July 2015 in Madrid.

When not working on my main area of research (the transmission and translation of ancient Greek philosophy into ancient Roman culture and Latin literature), and my on-going interest in the interface between Classics and Contemporary Art (explored in my other blog), I will post images, brief comments and observations here on the art books I discover in Spain that will link to the Store at the Wexner Center for the Arts back in Columbus, Ohio.

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The Wexner Center Store is by far the best place to browse and buy books in Columbus, so while I am away for the year...

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