By: Iván Beltrán Castillo
Photos: Lisa Palomino
The inventions of the gypsy Melquíades, the glass bead games hidden in coffers inside the houses, the ice, the mirrors, the meats carefully prepared by Ursula Iguarán, the stormy rum with which Colonel Aureliano Buendía eased his nostalgia, the gold fish and yellow butterflies, the songs sung by Francisco el Hombre (including the one he used to trick the Devil), the daguerreotype machine, the spyglasses and the bloody cockpit where Prudencio Aguilar died, the train of all nostalgias and the one loaded with corpses following the Banana massacre, manuscripts containing life itself… All the wondrous things that pepper the pages of Gabriel García Márquez’s iconic novel One Hundred Years of Solitude suddenly materialized in front of those who visited this year’s Bogotá International Book Fair, which had been transformed into Macondo, the impetuous nation created by Gabriel García Márquez, comparable in brilliance to William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha, or Juan Carlos Onetti’s Santa Maria.
The idea of inviting Macondo to star at an international book fair, where cultural and aesthetic events occur alongside business conferences and commercial transactions, at first seemed a little strange. But the Colombian Nobel Laureate’s death just over a year ago left behind a wake of dismay that exceeded all predictions as well as thousands of orphaned readers and admirers, and the plan to make his hallucinated Macondo the guest country –on a stage where only concrete nations had ever starred– quickly won over the event’s organizers.
Diana Carolina Rey, the fair’s managing director, recalls the many months of interdisciplinary work required as something akin to a sleepless season. The idea was to recreate Macondo without trampling on the collective imagination or imposing a model for what every reader had privately dreamed. An emphasis was placed on symbols, allusions, winks, and tangential references, monitored by the curatorial committee comprised of Jaime Abello Banfi, Piedad Bonnett, and Ariel Castillo, three unquestionable intellectuals, each of whom has devoted a part of his or her life to their passion for Macondo.
Grateful, smiling visitors discovered “The Macondo Cockpit,” where major authors, biographers, and writers who grew up under the artistic tutelage of García Márquez —Dasso Saldívar, Gerald Martin, Alberto Salcedo Ramos, Leila Guerriero, Eduardo Márceles Daconte, Santiago Gamboa, and photographer Daniel Mordzinski, to name a few— reflected on the many diverse aspects and artifacts present in the Macondian oeuvre. Mordzinski, considered “the writers’ photographer,” presented his book Gabo siempre, which “captures” some of the great writer’s closest friends and acquaintances.
According to Diana Carolina Rey, it was Santiago Caicedo, Laura Villegas, and Andrés Burbano who were responsible for creating the miracle of “Macondo’s New Spring.” Like the chimerical gypsies and alchemists of One Hundred Years of Solitude, these experts in art, technology, and modern communications transformed the cold and impersonal pavilions into the mythical kingdom that taught us, more than fifty years ago, to be reborn every day.