The Words of Others
A Literary Collage of León Ferrari
The Words of Others was originally produced by REDCAT/CalArts, with the support of the Getty Foundation. The performance was part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, in Los Angeles. A special thank you to the Fundación Augusto y León Ferrari. Arte and Acervo (FALFAA)
Expanded Theatricalities (MINECO. HAR2015-63984-P), by the research group ARTEA
The international seminar A Theatre of the Present. Rhetoric and Power in León Ferrari’s The Words of Others
Ruth Estévez, Agustín Diez Fischer y Miguel López
José A. Sánchez
José A. Sánchez, Juan Ernesto Díaz y Ruth Estévez
Juan Ernesto Díaz
Amaia Bono Jiménez, Andrea Dunia, Antonio Zancada, Aurora Fernández Polanco, Bárbara Hang, Bárbara Bañuelos, Carlos Pulpón, Claudia Faci, Cristina Cejas, Cristóbal Adam, Dani G. García, Dora García, Eduardo Linares Jiménez, Eliana Murgia, Emi Ekai, Ernesto García López, Isidoro Valcárcel Medina, Jaime Vallaure, Javier Pérez Iglesias, Javier Navarro de Zuvillaga, Jessica Huerta, José Aja, Juan Pablo Fuentes Villarroel, Ksenia Guinea, Laila Tafur Santamaría, Laura Ordás Amor, Laura Casielles, Laura Barragán Rodríguez, Nieve De Medina, Paula Cueto, Rafael Lamata, Rakel Camacho, Raquel Vidales, Raúl Marcos, Roberto Mendès, Santiago Eraso, Selina Blasco, Sergio Sepa, Simone Negrin, Uriel Fogué, Vicente Colomar
The Museo Reina Sofía presents The Words of Others by Argentinean artist León Ferrari (Buenos Aires, 1923–2013), a collage he produced between 1965 and 1967, the year it was released by the Argentinean publishing house Falbo. On this occasion, the piece will be performed in full for the first time in Spanish. In the two days leading up to the rendering of this literary collage, and in order to update the issues running through it, the international seminar A Theatre of the Present. Rhetoric and Power in León Ferrari’s The Words of Others, co-organised by Museo Reina Sofía and ARTEA, will be held in the Museo.
The reading of The Words of Others, seven hours in duration, encapsulates the history of violence meted out by and in the West as a result of the complicity of political and religious power, an issue Ferrari explored throughout his career.
Through words, The Words of Others visualises scenarios ranging from the punishment and redemption in the Judaeo-Christian doctrine and the horrors of the Second World War — Nazi Germany, concentration camps, the Nuremburg trials — to contexts closer and more contemporary to the artist, for instance the Vietnam War and the imperialist expansion of the USA during the Cold War. The artist created an extensive dialogue between such far-flung leading figures as Adolf Hitler, Pope Paul VI, God and the US President Lyndon B. Johnson, along with the voices of war correspondents, local and international journalists, servicemen, prophets and political advisors. These figures converse by way of quotes taken from history books and literature, the Bible, and particularly the printed press, magazines and national newspapers, as well as international agency cables.
Ferrari’s literary collages were designed to be read in public, thus working as moving historical archives. Especially in this piece, the most extensive, the artist sought to take the ideas of those who had built Western thought and remove them from context, bringing them face to face and comparing them to underscore the atrocities and messages of violence camouflaged in the rhetoric of their discourse. Similarly, he focused on the role of the media in the reporting and reception of conflict and war.
Therefore, the work was read publicly in two parts, firstly in 1968 under the artistic direction of fellow Argentinean artist Leopoldo Maler at Arts Lab in London — a pioneering space for experimental art — and then in 1972, at the Teatro Larrañaga in Buenos Aires by independent theatre director Pedro Asquini. In 2017, The Words of Others was rendered in full for the first time and translated into English in REDCAT, Los Angeles, under the direction of Ruth Estévez and José A. Sánchez, and with sound design by Juan Ernesto Díaz.
This presentation seeks to raise awareness of a key piece in the artistic oeuvre of León Ferrari, and to pay homage to Ferrari as an artist, as well as constituting a gesture in defence of culture, democracy and human rights — issues which were imperative to Ferrari. This project would not have been possible without the close collaboration of the Fundación Ferrari.