Transatlantic or the Foreign Correspondent

It’s May, it must be Brussels

1. Unpacking

3/05 > 20:00 → CentreduFESTIVALcentrum

5/05 > 16:00 → CentreduFESTIVALcentrum

2. Misguided tour

11/05 > 15:00 → Godfried van Bouillon, Koningsplein

12/05 > 15:00 → Godefroid de Bouillon, Place Royale

3. Quarrels…?!

17/05 > 18:45 William Kentridge → Kaaitheater

18/05 > 18:30 Forced Entertainment → de bottelarij

4. Packing

24/05 > time t.b.c. → CentreduFESTIVALcentrum

25/05 > time t.b.c. → CentreduFESTIVALcentrum

The KunstenFESTIVALdesArts is offering you a guide to its seventh festival. Argentine Alejandro Tantanian from Buenos Aires is both an angel and a devil, as much a smuggler, clown and philosopher as he is a liar. Featuring in 1998’s festival with the company El Periférico de Objetos, this time he is returning as a special ‘foreign correspondent’. He has been invited to give his impressions on the festival and the city. He has been invited to keep a diary, a travel journal of sorts. He is sure to go about things in a way that gives free rein to his hybrid imagination, “half Jekyll, half Hyde”. Each day he will be descending into limbo and it is expected that his keen eye will not miss a thing, picking up on the darkness, the brightness, the city, the artists and the audience.

A project on the city of Brussels ( a guided tour?) and the KunstenFESTIVALdesArts (a guided game?) by Alejandro Tantanian

With :

Alejandro Tantanian,

Edgardo Rudnitzky (Unpacking)

Maria Marta Colusi (Unpacking)

Assistent / Assistant :

Hendrik De Smedt

Thanks to :

Solitude (Stuttgart),

Paleis van Keizer Karel vzw/Palais de Charles Quint asbl, Fonds Bellevue

Trevor Wells

Production & presentation :


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Transatlantic or the Foreign Correspondent

(A doppelganger text 1 )

Before expanding on the topics concerning what I will make among you in the month of May, let me tell you who am I (before the dark side wakes up): I am Alejandro Tantanian 2 and I always wanted to be a singer.

This activity should have taken me inexorably to the highest summits of popularity and success.

However, the world, my teachers, my environment and the whole society reflects, troublesomely, other images in the mirror: that of an author humbled by his words and ghosts, and that of a director pointing out, left arm extended, that impossible scene in a sepia and rigorous frame.

By not escaping from destiny (nothing more useless than having the pretense to seek this flight) Alejandro Tantanian, that is to say I, am defined, then, as author, director and singer (I don't give up, I don't resign).

Under the star of the acceptance of my destiny I have received different awards for my written plays, I have been scholarship holder of the Akademie Schloss Solitude of Stuttgart and I have belonged to the group El Periférico de Objetos (who have already visited your city and your festival on two different occasions.)

And now, straight to the point: the offer arrived on the waiting table of a café. The days of September 2001 were running. The city breathed an air that is not that which we are breathing now: corrupted of pain and hope. In those days the third edition of the International Festival of Buenos Aires was developing. And there we were, in a café of Avenida de Mayo (a celebrated artery of this punished and wonderful city), Celesta and me.


In that café was sealed the process that now places me in front of the delicate commitment of putting into words what will take me to the geographies that you share.

This text is built with contradictions. My two sides build this text. I'M HERE. I WOKE UP. It is January 2002. The year has hardly been dented and the country that harbors me is crossing one of the most painful moments in its history. And I am here (THE DARK and the luminous together) in front of my PC, in the ocher solitude of my house, trying to arrange a text that speaks of my presence there, in Brussels, in May 2002. And the text is building slowly on the uncertainty of what to say, on the ignorance of what to make.

It is necessary to clarify what do I mean by my two sides DO IT, BASTARD: two deeply antagonistic beings cohabit in me (and I clarify this, just because sooner or later both of them will be writing this text, WE DID IT ALREADY, ASSHOLE, both will dictate these words on this January night). One of them is the one that tries to dismantle the traps of solemnity, the one that sings, the one that tries to transform this text into an amusing and luminous one (and he interferes with by using footnotes); the other one is the lover of German, the Wagnerian, the inhabitant of the shades (he is I AM THE MASTER OF THE TEXT, he writes the text that follows, he is telling me to get away from here, STOP THIS SILLY INTRODUCTION, and I have to obey him, I have to go, I have to leave him the wo

Descending to Hell; say those who testify, is not a common activity.

There are, and it should be said, some theories that classify these expeditions as the works of fevered minds.

The point is that, whatever theory you want to sustain, all the testimonies of travelers who could cross the limits of the living are there allowing us to remember the forgotten.


He who descends 4, it can be read , abandons the one who was, to become another, and gets lost in the depth of the dark kingdom in order to have another skin, another conscience. Once death's landscape had been crossed nobody can be identical to the image abandoned in the light - the one that mirrors devoured -

Death, with her tool, changes it all, transforms it all 5.

The poet descends to Hell in order to find the word. In Hell there are no mirrors. A split in a rock is the door. A split is the space that the rock provides to the silence of the rock. A word is a point of tension between two silences 6.


In the Underworld the landscape is dominated by the existence of objects that here, on this side of the light, we commonly denominate as cages 8.

1.A man is standing there, too, staring up into space,

And powerfully wringing his hands in torment.

It horrifies me, when I see his countenance,

The moon shows me my own form

Heinrich Heine

2.Green May of 1966 / Born on the morning of the 23rd day, to be more precise: at 10.05 am at the German Hospital of the city of Buenos Aires (in my destiny 'the German matter' has a more than an outstanding place, not only because I was born among people that spoke that language, but also because my liking of literature and theater is born by the hand of some 'illustrious Germans'. And please excuse me, but I will not reveal their names here.

3.I decide to stain the text. We lose, under my stain, several paragraphs. But all of them written by this Hyde side of my personality: dark descriptions of Hell's landscape, itemized anatomies of underworld inhabitants, full of morbid details. This is not a good reading; this is not a good way of introducing myself. My visit there, my stay in Brussels has nothing to do with hells and anatomies. I'll be there in order to change experiences; I will be the foreign correspondent.

4.Nothing can be read. Stop this text, you Simple Simon! I'll be here: at the footnotes declaring war on you. Always. And the battle will be mine. At least this one. I can't stand your dictatorship any longer. This has to have an ending. What are your plans? Leaving me 'idea-less' for the KunstenFESTIVALdesArts edition? Are you trying to win my place? Have you, by chance, the intention of ruining me? You will not vanquish me. Be sure of that.

5.I hope death will come soon. And drag you with it.

6. The poet descends to Hell in order to find the word. (...)A word is a point of tension between two silences.These 'sentences' are extracted from the papyrus abandoned in the West Canton, next to Pindaro's cave, where, it is said, were celebrated the Orphic Mysteries for decades. It is said (trustworthy evidence doesn't exist) that Isengolheim XIII was one of the few initiates left in the High City after the bloody invasion led by the sword of Magharth the Brown, ruler of the Olixedricum Empire, who definitely razed all the 'heretical' religions.

What the hell are you doing here in the footnotes? Get out from here. This is my territory. The footnotes are mine, you bloody bastard!

7. Another stain here. And it's a bloodstain. And I will not tell you who is bleeding.

8.Cages?: The precise place to keep the savage or to capture slippery, escaping things.

So: that is your place. A cage. You are the savage side, the slippery side. That's it. Done. I have to speak now. It's my turn. Stop this word battle and let's explain what will I make in Brussels BEING IN A CAGE. You are not allowed to speak here. You are trapped in a cage. AND SO WHAT? I AM IN A CAGE. BUT I'M NOT SPEECHLESS YOU WILL DO WHATEVER I WANT IN BRUSSELS. YOU WILL BE GUIDED ON A VISIT TO THE UNDERWORLD. Get out from my words. FREEDOM IS ONE OF THE CONCEPTS THAT THE CAGE PRONOUNCES, DENYING IT. AND EVEN MORE: THE CAGE THAT KEEPS THE BIRD IS NOT THE SAME AS THAT WHICH KEEPS THE SAVAGE. What does it mean? Nonsense. I'll be there meeting other artists, developing a diary of the festival and the city. Sharing my experiences. You will stay trapped in your cage. I'll be there alone. The cage door will not be opened. EACH DOOR LEADS TO SOME PLACE. TO CROSS A DOOR ALWAYS OFFERS TO THE WALKER, VEILED OR NOT, A CROSSROAD. AND THE WALKER DECIDES THE THINGS TO COME; IT IS HE WHO RESOLVES TO FACE THE ENIGMA LYING ON THE OTHER SIDE. I said stop. I'll be at Brussels CROSSING HELL OR VISITING UNKNOWN LANDSCAPES. COME WITH ME. WE can visit CAGES, DESCEND TO DENIED LANDSCAPES OR ascend to faraway limbos. The trip, IT IS FORESEEN, will be through the city of Brussels. Concerted date: MAY of 2002. WE will BE there.

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