The Reader of the Anecdote Workshop
The Reader is a publication made in the context of the Anecdote Workshop facilitated by Maíra Dietrich at Casa do Povo, in São Paulo, between September and December 2017. Made with images of the library and scans of writings that were reference on the making of the workshop, the Reader came from the impulse of registering the old library of Casa do Povo before its renovation. Casa do Povo is a jewish institution in the Bom Retiro neighborhood of São Paulo, part of the expanded center. The cultural centrum was founded and built in 1946 by the leftish community of jews that emigrated to Brasil as a homage to the ones who died in the Second Great War, they called it a living monument, a symbol of resistance in the form of a space that would host a school, a library, a theater group and a choir that would keep alive the yiddish culture. The institution went through a series of financial problems in the nineties and it has been recovered since 2005 by new group that activated the space with a program and a net of collectives that occupy the building.
The library of Casa do Povo consists in its 3/4 of books in yiddish, old books printed in Poland, Russia, Ukraine, that emigrated in people’s suitcases. The books have been squeezed and stored in bad conditions for the last two decades, and together with the initiative that hosted the workshop there would be the move of the library to a bigger room, a proper library that is on the make now. The Reader came from the impulse of registering the old library as it was, as a good bye to the long period of dormancy of the books. I started taking pictures of the books and the shelves, the details, the placements, the coincidences, the signs of use and abandonment. I was always intrigued by the image of books, their form, their materiality, but it never stroke me so hard as on that day. Since the titles were mainly in a language I could not recognize a single character, my eyes were available to look at the books as they were presenting themselves to me, the light of the room, their order, their details. For the first time I went to a library and didn’t touch a single book so the eyes could see the library as a whole, and even with such inhospitable appearance, the space vibrated, by its history, its density, its features. The Anecdote Workshop invited eleven participants to emerge in the library and archive of this historical institution in São Paulo, guiding their researches in the concept of the anecdote, less known facts parallel to history that allow us to insist in oblique details and discoveries. For five weeks I had weekly individual skypes with the participants, being their listener and advisor. It had as a result a public presentation in December of 2017 and a printed publication that compiled the researches of each participant.