Bianki, Diego

Ten years have gone by (or more! I have lost count) since I was first sent the proposal to make this book. However, I still have the feeling that it will never be finished, just like this great city, which, while walking through its streets, never seems to end.

I began to make some illustrations based on a commission from Vicente Ferrer, publisher of Media Vaca, who asked me to work with the same technique as my small logbooks, that is to say, using rubbish; the same rubbish our consumer society disposes of every day. Labels, stamps, containers, and all kinds of printed papers that end up in the bin have found their way into this book, an artefact full of souvenirs picked up from the streets of Buenos Aires.

Those paper cut-outs brought me closer to a partial view of Buenos Aires that is completed by the voices of those poets who, through their texts, have echoed the city’s streets, the people, the statues, the anecdotes, the tango music, the colonies of immigrants. Artists from long ago: Gardel, Santos Discépolo, Macedonio, González Tuñón, Girondo, Fernández Moreno; and those from today: Sumo, Laura Yasán, Ral Veroni, Washington Cucurto. All of them have been my allies while I strolled around the city trying to capture its most distinctive marks and signs. A city I managed to claim only when I decided to take a step back to observe it in its entirety: looking at it from the River Plate. That same great river the urban structure turns its back on, leaving it far away from the sight and the enjoyment of its citizens. Could that be the reason why Saer called it “the river with no shores”?

The story of this journey began in 2001, when the publisher offered me to illustrate The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa. For different reasons, the project never came to be, but if anything has survived until today, it is undoubtedly the feeling of disquiet I have experienced as I watched the years go by without managing to finish the book.

Of those ten (or more) years, I spent three and a half randomly collecting those pieces of printed paper the pampero wind swirled around in every corner. That same paper gradually became something ungovernable: each day it grew and grew and began to fill up the space of my small studio. I was soon forced to classify this rubbish as real waste collectors do, but sorting it by themes. This is how I began to put together topics: Architecture and Environment, Transport, Animals, Insects, Plants, Characters, Fonts, and so on.

I first assigned a topic to one envelope, but soon each topic began to occupy several envelopes, and those envelopes various boxes, and those boxes many square metres from my workspace! At this point, and after so long, I had to face a new chaos (what in Argentina we call kilombo) which on a small scale emulated the chaotic system the big city presents when we move around its tangled web. Chaos that, after all, transforms into man’s natural order… or into a book like the one you, dear reader, now have in your hands. D. B.

DIEGO BIANKI (La Plata, 1963) is the author, among others, of the following books: Pleine lune (2003), Restorán (2003), Candombe (2004), Nariz de higo (2005), Papeles fútiles (2007), Con la cabeza en las nubes (2010), and Rompecabezas (2012).