Brodsky notes by Felipe Ehrenberg
I can tell you already it won’t be length but rather depth, the essence of these lines coming out of my fingertips, and from my soul, no doubt. I feel confident…
So I’m sure I’ll be able to get it down, correct it, and send it to you by the end of next week.
In other words, BEFORE May 20th.
The most important thing: Rest easy, I won’t let you down.
Clinicians who are able to renew a symptomatological picture produce a work of art; conversely, artists are clinicians, not with respect to their own case, nor even with respect to a case in general; rather, they are clinicians of civilization.
A great deal, a very great deal has already been published about Marcelo Brodsky, his life and career, his successes. So in the following lines I will not refer to either his biography or his creations. I certainly don’t plan to praise him (or to disparage him) as a critic might do; but neither can these lines be the apologia of a curator with his own agenda, and still less those of an art dealer, indifferent to the content of the work.
The following words come from my heart and my conscience, and I set them down for two very powerful reasons: first of all, because Marcelo and I are colleagues in a disjointed fellowship, an enormous, disconcerted fellowship that persists in making images, one way or another. An audacious enough undertaking, considering we live in the very Age of the Image. And secondly because I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that these lines will help whoever reads them to see Marcelo not as a photographer, but as a maker of images. And as something much more.
In these images in which I observe my own life, I see everything from a bird’s-eye view.
Felipe Ehrenberg notes by Marcelo Brodsky
Our relationship began, without my knowing it, with his response to the Mexican critic Avelina Lesper, in which Felipe Ehrenberg wrote:
It would be welcome ―and necessary― for you to take the time to read the numerous texts, essays, critiques, and other writings that have gathered like a sea swell all over the world, calling for a return to art/art, urging artists to reestablish their age-old direct dialogue with the public. I would be happy to recommend you some. I can assure you that widening your reading to include the thought of the Americas might help you to verbalize your concerns with the accuracy required by the case, which is ―I agree― extremely problematic.
I think it is urgent that you separate and reorder your arguments, classifying your objections so that both the public and the artists themselves can collaborate in restoring meaning to the arts, and thereby meaning to the lives of the artists themselves, so badly educated by the system, so mistreated by intermediaries, so inefficient in their disconcertion… Please come out of your chilango provincialism and try to be less Eurocentric (all of your references come from Europe or the United States, and most of those thinkers don’t even know that Latin American art exists).
I have here a very moving essay by the German thinker Andreas Huyssen entitled “The Mnemonic Art of Marcelo Brodsky,” in which he describes and explains not only his own reaction but also the reactions of the public to “one of those” exhibitions that bother him. It was held a few years ago at the Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires, and I quote:
“A small crowd mainly consisting of parents and children, and groups of teenagers on a Sunday outing had gathered around a work entitled Buena Memoria by an artist I had not heard of. In the center of the installation was a large blown up class photo of a First Year class at the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires. The year of the photo was 1967, well before the last dictatorship. The photo had been inscribed with multiple marks and notations in different colors. Faces were crossed out, bodies written over. The markings and writings pointed to disappearances, death, and exile. The content of the writings was rather laconic, understated, but they added a ghostly dimension to the image of those young teenage faces. It was as if the photo was haunted by the specter of a terrifying future ―representable only in words rather than images. It was a simple work of photographic testimony to what happened to one class of students at one high school in Buenos Aires, powerful in its ability to trigger questions from the youngsters in the audience to their parents and explanations by the parents about the country’s recent past. Clearly, the spectators were struck and moved by Brodsky’s first exhibited work.”
As soon as I read this text, I called Felipe. We immediately became friends. We had exhibited together at the Estaçao of the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo: he, his retrospective Manchuria, and I, my Buena Memoria. We talked about his beautiful new house in Ahuatepec, Morelos. Felipe was happy, alongside the person he acknowledged to be the best cook in the world. He would sometimes say that he had trouble reading, that the letters began to move and blur before his eyes, in an indecipherable dance. I decided to ask him for a foreword to this book and he began to write it, making clear that he did so with difficulty. He told me that from that moment on, in addition to being friends, we would be “accomplices.”