April 25, 2014
Thursday, December 19, 2013

An intimate glimpse: The Bolaño Archive

The Bolaño Archive can be visited Monday to Friday from 1pm to 8pm and on weekends and public holidays from 11am to 8pm.

Large scale exhibition dedicated to famous Chilean author lands at Recoleta Cultural Centre

The exhibition Archivo Bolaño (1977-2003) (The Bolaño Archive, 1977-2003), which opens today at the Recoleta Cultural Centre (CCR), features unpublished writings, notebooks, personal items — such as the author’s typewriters and computer —, drawings and photos from Roberto Bolaño’s years in Spain.

Open until February 16, the exhibition includes more than 14,000 documents from Bolaño’s personal archive, from 100 first editions to 230 original writings, seven videos, 100 photos and drawings, as well as a welcome surprise of a wealth of unpublished material — 27 short stories, four novellas and hundreds of poems. The previously unknown archive was put forward by Bolaño’s widow and heiress Carolina López.

The Bolaño Archive was inaugurated in March 2013 at the Barcelona Contemporary Culture Centre during the sixth edition of the Kosmopolis biennial. The exhibition at CCR in Buenos Aires marks the first stop of The Bolaño Archive in Latin America.

“The exhibition is designed in three large parts, reflecting Bolaño’s periods in Spain: first Barcelona, then Girona and, finally, Blanes. They reflect different creative periods, so to speak,” veteran curator Juan Insúa from the Barcelona Contemporary Culture Centre told reporters. The three stages referenced by Insúa are “The Unknown University” (Barcelona, 1977-1980), “Inside the Kaleidoscope” (Girona, 1981-1985) and “The Visitor from the Future” (Blanes, 1985-2003).

“The most interesting part of the archive is, perhaps, Bolaño’s entire output from his Barcelona and Girona periods, which was virtually unknown. Most readers think Bolaño wrote his entire work in the last 10 years of his life and they couldn’t be more wrong. Ever since he decided to write at the tender age of 16, this was his life’s work,” the curator added.

“This exhibition is based on a creative timeline meant to complete the different publication dates of his books. By putting together his published and unpublished work, we get a complete view of the process and evolution of Bolaño’s literature,” Insúa said.

In an interview with Argentine news agency Télam, Insúa talked about the making of The Bolaño Archive and its inherent revelations and even offers tips and advice on the best way to visit the exhibition.

Why did you choose 1977 as the starting point of this exhibition?

1977 is the year Bolaño arrives to Spain. A lot of people ask about the lack of focus on his Mexican period: those years were obviously essential for Bolaño but the truth is we couldn’t feature everything. We have included a prologue about Bolaño’s time in Mexico, but we chose to do it in a synthetic manner.

What have you discovered while putting this exhibition together?

I believe the most interesting thing anyone could discover is that Bolaño is a full-time writer. This archive is not just about his unpublished work — stories, novels and poems — but also includes notebooks which offer a unique glimpse into Bolaño’s writing habits. Also, if you open his computer folders, you’ll find his poems are obsessively classified, proofread and polished but the only thing he never stopped writing in his notebooks until the end of his life were the poems, they’re all handwritten. Let us not forget that some of Bolaño’s greatest works, such as Amuleto (1999), are just long prose poems.

Is your perspective focused on Bolaño’s work as a whole?

There is this internal connectivity in Bolaño’s entire work which boosts its consistency: his characters and alter egos are there from the start. Bolaño starts weaving a creative universe that develops progressively to reach top form in The Savage Detectives (1998) and in 2666 (2004).

What’s the best way to visit the exhibition?

We have created this sort of game, you know. In Woes of a True Policeman (2011), Bolaño writes: “the detective is the reader trying to no avail to puzzle out this damned novel.” Our proposal invites the visitor to become a detective and use the signs, drawings and clues we’ve left for this purpose.

Where and when

Archivo Bolaño / The Bolaño Archive (1977-2003) // Recoleta Cultural Centre (Junín 1930) // December 19 — February 16 // Free admisión.

Herald with Télam

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