SALZINSEL is an independent magazine dealing with culture, politics and arts. It includes articles on various themes, events, institutions and artists, but also creative texts, music and visual arts.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Celebrating the barrio

                                                              © Aleksander Bochenek / Babel Images
Watch from a distance, how some unspoken and unbroken rules made in the beginning of Time seep into the barrio. Watch from a broken window and see how the seasons turn while night turns into day. Watch how some move away, while others pull in with their life packed into a van. All the while, debate with yourself (after a full meal, of course, for debates are a luxury) whether the central problem of Dreams and their Translation will ever be solved. You might settle into a comfortable belief, of course, that this life is real and in reality, such ideological extremes are next to impossible.

So, you continue watching the children laugh while they play in their clean new clothes and also while some walk away, heads bowed, from the only home they have ever known. Glossy brochures and pep talk never did tell the whole story. There are always stories to be told, and storytellers drifting along this place to listen and trans-create. They are dreamers, resourceful independent dreamers, who do not believe for a moment what glossy brochures and pep talk try to feed them. They walk along the tenement corridors and trace the line of intricate tattoos with their eyes, all the while gathering up stories in their consciousness. They are young and they meet the old. Young embraces old, and another kind of regeneration occurs.

                                                               © Aleksander Bochenek / Babel Images

Maybe this is the vitalization the glossy brochures and pep talk failed to impress upon your mind. Friendly empathetic dreamers who will soon drift along, and leave traces behind for others in their wake, what do they take along with them? The barrio, you must remember, is touched by the world. They remember the shuffling gait of a shiftless father back home, they remember the sunlit shafts along the cobblestones that turned them into poets, they remember splashes of an evening sky that made them wonder what the other side of the world was waking up to. They are walking bridges, which interconnect the miserable failing of Dreams and the triumphant Translations of them, in spite of everything. They touch all the possibilities, all the words, all the mediums that are available with their visions that tell half truth, half fantasy.  

                                                            © Aleksander Bochenek / Babel Images

Talk to young people who were born in filth and now kiss on the roof tops of buildings that seem to touch the sky. Hear about the danger that lurks just around the corner, even now as the promise of freedom is a whisper away. Even the glossiest of the brochures and the peppiest of the talk will warn you to keep your wallet clutched close to you, safely. This is where you might begin to question Timeless ideas of perfection. Did you hear the story about the girl who went mad? She had nothing to cry about, and so she never smiled. She died without ever having lived. She never knew the inner voice that rises like steel against injustice and sorrow, and then makes a quiet, firm decision. She never squared her shoulders after a rejection; she never felt the quiet desperation that forces little slips of people into heroism. 

                                                             © Aleksander Bochenek / Babel Images

Yes, they will tell you about it at the barrio. You will relate to the old man shuffling around the corner, shafts of sunlight on your head as you walk to the next street, splashes of the evening sky. It reminds you a little of the thousand places you might call home. The dreamer drifting along beside you is in a different barrio. The same shuffling old man, the same tattoos, the same grime and filth against medieval walls, the same new skyscraping marvels, but a very different barrio. And then, maybe, you might just realize that there cannot be a structure to perfection. Maybe you understand a little bit of the heroism of the people who dream about much more than you imagine they can ever do, or should if they don’t want their hearts broken.

                                                               © Aleksander Bochenek / Babel Images

Maybe then, what they really can do might surprise you. Sure, they are shuffling away now, the homeless ones, a statistic in the gentlemen’s files, but they reach another barrio and voila, another flurry of regeneration begins.

Alert! You’re at the barrio. Welcome.

Shreya Sanghani