ESCaperucita & Little Flying Hood
by José Quiroga
Essay published in the catalog that accompanied Collazo-Llorens’ project at the X Havana Biennial, for which an artist book and a series of limited edition portfolios were also produced.
There is not just one, but rather there are many versions of this tale. It’s a tale and a cartoon. It’s a girl that goes through a trauma. It’s a love story. It’s a telenovela. It’s a story, crumbled and reconstructed. They’re two characters or one character and her alter-ego. Or they are the same character cut into two, bilingual and bicultural, aerial and amphibious.
ESCaperucita & Little Flying Hood flying low, under the radar, lose control in a clear air turbulence. They fall on water and reach land.
The signal is the beginning and the end of the journey. The signal you have followed until you’ve reached this place, La Cabaña, in Havana, in Cuba. From here the signal is transmitted, and from here it is disseminated.
A series of twenty-six panels or screens, each following the other and with a clear sense of direction: each panel leads on to the next one, and each one of them activates the journey.
Letters generated by one subject texting the other, or almost automatically by a computer. Signs that reproduce communicating saturation: cellphones, weather monitoring stations, radio telescopes that allow us to see beyond sight, (the frequency monitored is the deep noise, the music of the spheres) and that also beam signals that no one answers, for one cannot know if anybody is listening, or if the signals have arrived where they perhaps need to arrive. ESCaperucita’s forest is a universe of transmissions in an ardent frequency: an elastic membrane made out of air as it is interfered by language—air and space to which ESCaperucita throws herself in her acrobatic aerophagia.
There has to be a sequence, wherever there is an escape. But the sequence disorders time in space. In each of the screens two languages and various times coexist: the narrative of the search, the time in which one airplane has already disappeared, the possibly previous warning from the national meteorological service, the first and the third person (“she looks for the island”). Time is re-ordered in each of the panels by means of a bundle of synchronicities.
The music of the universe is a sound poem, the sum of all times within one space. ESCaperucita, with her name inscribed within the keyboard, cannot but escape within, fused within the textual detritus that is part of the air itself. A lover that is also loved, a fragile anchor within the world’s textual trash, with salsa lyrics [“tu me hiciste brujería”] and with her legs upside down (“con las patas pa’rriba”).
There is not just one, but rather many versions of this tale. ESCaperucita is a message that is also the interference of another message. This is why her texts are words that manage to squeeze themselves within the universe of signs [the big bad wolf!], they slip in the cyber-language of the present in order to come up their raison d’etre: to search for and love, her lost companion.
Where there is language, there is a distance. Where there is distance, there is an other. To have faith in the power of words does not imply reaching a space where language ceases to exist—a universe of fullness in which language turns superfluous. We arrive at the place where we have always been, we go out from the same point from which we came in. Words can provide a form of ESCape, but they are also the ones responsible for the sense of loss that only words can trace, in the play (the cartoon) of their being.
Click. Flying saucers in the Bermuda Triangle. Crossed lines. flashing:light. Towards the sea within until reaching an island surrounded by a textual sargasso. Beyond the journey traced by the screens, the film: full visibility, the search continues in a different register, a return to the fall.
There is no text hidden here within another text, nor a notion of simulated reality that covers another reality that has been suppressed. One cannot talk about a signifier that reveals what a signified hides, nor of a visible beauty that puts on mascara upon an atrocious and invisible reality. With all the pieces up in the air, the sense of becoming is a tale, because it all happens at the moment in which one passes from the graphic to the submarine reality of video.
If we talk about islands, we can take note of what ruptures the distance between one and the other: borders opened towards a space saturated by radars, by weather stations, by waves of satellite transmission transporting radio and tv programs, salsa lyrics, the changing location of a disappeared plane, the arc traced by a rocket towards space, the text messages of thousands of cellphones—a new language on air that includes it all, from televisual trash to a love message.
In an exhibition from 2001, titled “Memories, Games and Codes,” Nayda Collazo-Llorens presented the video of a child that repeated an act of magic. There was the girl, playing with three cones, because one of them held a surprise underneath, and with the surprise, there was applause. That girl knew and did not know where the prize was hiding, but that was her game with the spectator—a game that was also continued in a series of paintings in which an aleatory code played with the existence of a possible code in itself.
After many routes traced by labyrinths of lines on which the observer lost him or herself, the girl returns (is it the same girl?) turned into a character traveling in an airplane, tied to the keyboard of a text-producing machine, a text whose sole escape is falling, or perhaps one in which the only possible fall is an escape. A lot of philosophy can be learned if one is a magician (as Heidegger would have said, unless he did say it) just as a lot of theology can be learned in the kitchen (as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz said). Being is only possible in repetition. And whatever meaning it may have, the fall with all of its interferences, opens new possibilities for the being that dives.
Switch to amphibian mode.
José Quiroga is the author of Mapa Callejero: Crónicas sobre lo gay desde América Latina, Law of Desire (A Queer Film Classic), Cuban Palimpsests, and others. He has published in journals and newspapers in the United States and Latin America, and he is Professor of Comparative Literature at Emory University in Atlanta.