Monday, 1 August 2011
CARLOS PELLICER'S 1957/58 PARK/MUSEUM/POEM OF LA VENTA IN VILLAHERMOSA, TABASCO
entrance to the site museum
map-paintings by Luis Covarrubias
Carlos Pellicer's bust at the entrance of the park
concrete footprint of Pellicer guiding the visitor through the park/museum/poem
a parcourse within the jungle, where the visitor was supposed to discover the Olmec sculptures within the vegetation, as if he was an explorer seeing them for the first time...
resting areas/ rain protection areas, where according to Pellicer's original ideas there would be wooden tablets with poems inscribed in it for visitors to read
The Olmec sculptures were removed from their original location in the archological site of La Venta when oil was found nearby, and transported by trucks to their new location in Villahermosa. It is said that the original location in La Venta, had also become a 'red zone', where prostitutes would offer their services to the workers of the oil fields, appearing from behind the Olmec heads...
commemoration plaques of the different renovations the park has had
1958 inauguration plaque
1970 renovation during Lopez Portillo's presidency and during Rovirosa's government
1994. Every renovation seems to be worse, the park/museum/poem more distant everyday from Pellicer's original conception...
Letter from Carlos Pellicer to Alfonso Reyes
Villahermosa, Tabasco, September 19, 1957
To the Poet and Teacher,
Alfonso Reyes, in Mexico City.
I was very happy to learn that the knife wounds given to you by a man named Pesqueira in complicity with the ace of hearts were favourable to people and nations. Alfonso, if you don’t know, I’ll tell it to you: I have deep appreciation for you and I admire you to the point where I can’t any more; that is to say, I can’t any more.
As soon as I’m back in the capital I’ll go to see you, and I’ll tell you about the things that I’m doing; here moving and transferring thousands of years with a weight of 38 tons. If you could here how they crack! And when they are accommodated over the “Mack” platform, the one that continues cracking is me. Just Figure that when I moved the Great Triumphal Stone –the one that weights 38 tons- I spent the night thinking that the formidable sculpture was coming through the road at a speed of 20 kilometres per hour, and from a distance of 150 kilometres. I’ve already translated fifteen monuments. I still have five sculptures left –one of them of almost 50 tons: idleness of volume – plus a megalithic tomb and a grand sarcophagus – stuck in centuries. I have put myself under regime, in order to age enough and to be in tune with this wonderful stones that because they are unknown, when I finish the mise en public, they will amaze the worlds.
But man: figure yourself a poem of seven hectares. With millenary verses binded in mystery. Naturally to the side of a lake with some errors called crocodiles. The settima ventura I will free there fourteen deer, that will give swift punctuation to such a magnificent text. Here in Tabasco you know that thread is spun very thin. When you are about to cut a flower, It leaves you, as it happens it was a butterfly, and vice versa. We are not guilty. Blame the sun! In the same land I’m also organizing a zoo only with species from Tabasco. We have a bird that’s like the forgotten painting palette of a young painter. Also the tapir which is a disqualified project of the rhinoceros. With a little effort I will complete the botanic, and in this way the three kingdoms will be in me. And I tell you in me because all this business is already part of my body.
All this fondling of centuries of day light has confirmed me that one must spend his life playing. Of course, playing and conjugating verbs, without past participles: to give to it because it’s a gerund. Poor are those that strive in playing seriously, because they are damned (in Spanish Xodidos: fucked up). See Alfonsito, when I, five years ago thought about this fuckingmuse (in Spanish chingamusa), y told my self: Let’s see what comes out! And of course, what came out is a tremendous thing, but delicious. And it’s the oeuvre of my life. I’m building a poem with the three kingdoms and many Men. In small refuges built of jahuacte and huano –cane and palm- against rain or sun there will be books made out of wood with very short text about Nature and the soul. Whenever you feel like, write me some –phrases, well understood- that I will have written over thin plates of precious woods. In this way, the visitor, good or bad, will have to scrub himself, and will find his place. As you see, maybe all this will end up being something very delicious. Of course, there will be fresh waters, made of tropical fruits, and we’ll sell Coca-Colas under the counter, while being sure to remind their mothers to those that buy them. God first, I will be back to Las Lomas in a month, and I’ll call you by telephone to go one day to detail you more all this information. Even if you fall asleep! And the Park Museum-Poem of La Venta, in this ugly Villahermosa I won’t be able to finish until coming June. But it’s already very advanced.
My greetings to Manola. To point and mole. Also to your illustrious aggressors. Wisdom always wounds.
Play with this letter and a lighted match, you’ll see such a colour!
Freely translated from spanish by PLB
Special thanks to Carlos Pellicer Lopez, nephew of Carlos Pellicer the poet, for his help and knowledge during this research.