Bibliographer reflecting on utopia

DURING 2021 —a year marked by personal isolation in various cultural centers – the Bachiller editions of the National Library of Cuba, José Martí (BNCJM), carried out an unusual editorial activity that involved dozens of professionals from the fields of design, translation, journalism, social media and digitization. . Among those publications that generated high expectations and a wide response in the reading community was island socialism. Cuba: a survey of socialist ideas, 1818-1899.Jorge Luis Montesino Grandias.

Mainly using the documentary sources of the Cuban Cabinet of Antonio Bachiller and Morales BNCJM, Montesino Grandias assumed in this work the role of a compiler, little appreciated in our professional environment, but so decisive for the dissemination of the historical memory stored in our collections of manuscripts, bibliographic and hemerographic. The systematic patience and sharpness of the criteria also allowed the editor and teacher to make this major contribution to the history of the socio-political ideas of the Cuban nation, which combines the various fields of knowledge of university programs. Neither the prolific Victor Fowler Calzada nor the dedicated Araceli García Carranza have gone unnoticed by the value of this essential work, which reflects the historical and ideological and aesthetic complexities of the current of socialist thought.

In constant interaction since we were introduced by my classmate Alejandro Samora Montes, the beginning of this dialogue took place long before the official proposal: it was forged at the countless conferences, book launches, fine art exhibitions that took place at the BNCJM. At every encounter with eloquence worthy of the masters of Socrates, Montesino Grandias provided me with numerous streams of knowledge, enriched by his decades of painstaking research and professional work.

— To what extent did the systematic acquaintance with the collections of the BNCJM Cuban Room contribute to your research?

— My first consultations with the BNCJM documentary collection date back to 1999, when I researched the processes, institutions and artists of the plastic arts in Pinar del Río. These visits contributed to the deepening of said research with non-existent sources in my home province, after I became acquainted with the collections of the Provincial Historical Museum and Library of Ramon González Coro, interviewed many artists and protagonists in the fullness of their intellectual abilities and had access to numerous family archives .

“Any investigation requires courage, passion and as much time as possible. This last factor, which ensures consistency, became my personal strength when I became part of the BNCJM professional group in 2016. Thus, with time to know and understand the technical and cultural complexity of the nation’s flagship library, a fertile portion of its largely unknown treasures opened up before me. The collections of the extremely valuable Cuban Hall provided me with many references of the social and biographical dimension related to cultural, bibliographic, political cultural and ideological processes, without which it would be difficult to understand and reconstruct vital areas of nineteenth century culture. affecting subsequent processes.

– What importance do you attach to commemorative documents (archives, personal collections, collections of works of art) kept in provincial institutions?

— I have always been a supporter of the recognition of the specificity, diversity and typology of regional and local cultural processes that give character to what we call the Cuban nation. A diverse network of institutions across the island faces an enormous technical and material challenge to research, process, preserve and socialize the values ​​created in specific cultural contexts and processes. Political and public figures, artists, writers, journalists, various cultural and demographic processes originated and influenced the entire Antilles geography. These formations are distinguished by the fact that they are generating and mobilizing centers of science and consciousness not only in their immediate territory, supported by the documentary wealth that is in their charge, as a rule, unknown or little interpreted at the country level. Therefore, collection pillars should expand as new technologies for knowledge production and communication develop.

– How did your attitude to fine arts influence your university teaching practice?

“My art-related academic pursuits have brought to perfection some of the artistic influence that is present in the family environment. At the Higher Pedagogical Institute named after Enrique José Varona, from the same student level, the connection between art and the methodology of its teaching
they offered me attractive routes
to the professional horizon. Until today, almost half of my professional life has been devoted to teaching at various levels of education. In each of them I received professional and human review results.

“Specifically in the university environment, I taught subjects related to photojournalism, understanding art and Cuban culture. This level gave me the opportunity to test the ways, media and content put into circulation as a result of the artistic creation, curation and art history that I practiced in Pinar del Río. For me, teaching requires creativity, imagination, operational and competitive solutions.”

– What qualities do you identify in a graduate of the national system of art education, so that he aspires to become an art curator?

– In the mid-1990s, the term “curator” finally began to refer to a practice previously carried out by the artists themselves, specialists and art critics, philologists, specialists in other social sciences and other experts working in galleries and museums. This was the result of personal and informal interests both within and outside the arts institutions. This exercise continues to this day, redefining itself, showing an intergenerational panorama and a confluence of specialties and knowledge. Even with time, editors, directors, and promoters of cultural events have become commonplace to be appointed as curators. All this describes the complexity, functionality of the term, its concept and propositional cultural practice.

“For the preparation of an art curator who is directly linked to the national education system, which undoubtedly gives strengths, I propose a short scheme, always brought to perfection: an extensive knowledge of the history of world and Cuban art; possession of the historical process of organizing exhibitions in its various variants; modern curatorial and museographic methodologies; be the creator of theses or narratives that offer ways of seeing, understanding and evaluating art as a cultural axis; development of perception and spatial thinking.

– What are the challenges facing the authors and editors of the Cuban publishing system to reflect the polyphony of our cultural history?

– The Cuban publishing field is open to many tasks that go beyond it. This is the basis of any analysis of Cuba today and in the future: understanding culture as a creative problem. The Cuban publishing system faces the enormous task of creating an economy that can support its growing productive, cultural and spiritual horizons. Another area that requires no less cardinal requirements is reading and the community of readers. As content is written and created for readers, issues related to the culture of interpretation will be equally important.

— How did you rate your interdisciplinary practice among colleagues from the cultural and research world?

“This is the answer that we will definitely receive from my contemporaries. Our contemporaries communicate their criteria to us, knowingly or unwittingly, to the extent that they approve or disapprove of the professional efforts and proposals made. An interdisciplinary perspective that revolves around visual anthropology, iconographic studies, discourse analysis, and aesthetic theory has favored my assessments by viewing art as the central axis of culture. Thus, the recommendations that came to me were approved, while I received many offers of collaboration in editorial, research and art projects.

As the compiler of this work, Montesino cherished a pleasant experience. Photo: @BiblioNacCuba/Twitter.

Source: Juventud Rebelde


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