the present is confusing

Action: September 24 to October 8, 2017, Mexico City
Book: Download (in Spanish)

On September 19, 2017, an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale struck Mexico City 40 seconds after 1:14 p.m. The earthquake took place on the same day as the one in 1985.

Dani Zelko arrived in Mexico City from Buenos Aires on September 24, five days after the earthquake. During the next days, he set up a table with a computer in different boroughs of the city, taking along a backpack outfitted with a printer. He sat down and waited. There were signs behind him that read: “Memory Collection”, “Talk to me and read yourself”, “Tell your story today”, “The present is confusing”.

Passersby dictated poems to him. He listened, transcribed the poems and printed them out immediately. He read them their poems and gave them the printouts as gifts. The age of the participants ranged between three and sixty years old. As the people heard their poems, they would nod and say: “Yes, that’s how it happened, just like that”, as if someone else had lived the experience or someone else had narrated it. It was as if the distance arising from reading oneself in the voice of another, from reading oneself in that instant, allowed the tale and the experience to coexist in a place where memory is compatible, for a moment, with the quiver of the body and, paradoxically, a memory.

Fifteen days have passed since the earthquake struck, and we are still living the consequences of what came right after, the social movement: “The present is confusing”.

Amanda de la Garza, 2017.