“Because I didn’t know Mike Tyson/I made a literary magazine with the title Mike Tyson/I loved them, poetry and boxing/everything went well, everything went smoothly;/an interview with René Houseman/but I didn’t know Mike Tyson…/I knew X-504; Circe Maia, /Fernández Moreno/I printed a magazine on poetry and sports/and didn’t know Mike Tyson!/I didn’t know that Mike Tyson had seen the light of the world,/played football and read Whitman/Never never/did we publish anything on Mike Tyson/and Mike, straight up, was a true great./That was a mistake. The huge mistake.”
The idea for Eloisa Cartonera, simultaneously a publishing house and a social-cultural project, emerged after the crisis in Argentina in 2001. In light of the continually growing number of cartoneros (people who search for recyclables in street trash to earn their livelihood), Argentinean author Washington Cucurto decided on an extraordinary collaborative project and created inexpensive books for the general public as well as jobs for the cartoneros. The publishing house publishes new or reprinted works by young, prominent or forgotten authors from Latin America in unusual forms. The books consist of photocopied pages and hand-painted covers in cardboard, which the cartoneros have collected. The volumes are sold in small print runs for 5 pesos (approx. 1.50 euros) in Argentina and even beyond the country’s borders in Chile and Peru.
Three years after founding Eloisa Cartonera, 85 titles have been published, and now a two-part chronicle of the publishing house tells its story with photos, commentaries, reportages, interviews, drawings, comics and collages. The first part of the book is designed by Argentinean designers and visual artists. The second consists of an anthology of texts and authors published by Eloisa Cartonera. It is partially designed by design fellows at the Akademie Schloss Solitude. An approximately 30-page brochure also appears in a limited edition, with illustrations of the hand-colored cardboard covers of the Cartonera production.
Washington Cucurto, born in 1973 in Quilimes, Argentina as Noberto Santiago Vega, is seen as one of the main protagonists of “realismo atolondrado”, an Argentinean literary stream that playfully mixes humor writing and high culture, Cumbia and Whitman, comics and Gombrowicz. Known under the pseudonym Washington Cucurto, he has written poetry volumes like La máquina de hacer paraguayitos (The machine that makes little female Paraguayans, 1999) and La Cartonerita (The Carton Collector, 2003). Cucurto was the recipient of an Akademie Schloss Solitude fellowship in 2005/2006.