Essay By Jasmina Tešanović; Photos by Bruce Sterling.
Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson performed a poetry session in Kosmopolis Barcelona. She was big on the screen from somewhere in US, while he was small and live in front of us, on the black and red stage, with a bunch of loose sheets of paper from which he was reading verses.
It was a weird session from this recently married couple, who have always had a huge audience all over the world. They were not singing but speaking of Catalonia, to the Catalans, using the words of Catalonian poets. Transgressive, brave, underground. angry verses of poor, gay, wronged, talented, wild personas — translated into English. The verses rang around the packed crowd as an electric wave on the spine.
The sleepy spoiled bourgeoisie of the new mainstream, who came to see a celebrity punk dancing and singing, were shaken to their bones. Some applauded, some left, but the emotive response was visible.
Video: Made in Catalunya with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson (YouTube)
in his press conference Lou Reed said he was fed up with being asked about his darkness, about his bad boy attitudes. The Velvet Underground rockstar was fed up with the press, but the press is not dismissing him or his new book, just published in Spain.
Barcelona is the center of Spanish publishing, it is multicultural and leftist, and yet it is also separatist and nationalist, as proud and touch as right-winged poor illiterate cities . The Catalans claim their own language, their own culture and they want to split away from the rest of the Spain.
Kosmopolis is a Barcelona festival of literature, new media and politics: it invites prominent artists, writers and political activists from all over the world. The city is proud of their culture and of their literary guests. The streets outside the venue are full of tourists, street artists, Catholic beggars, pick pockets , transvestites, émigrés, music bands, cafes, young desperadoes and old jet setters. Lou and Laurie performed their "Made in Catalonia" show as gypsy jet setters — a crowd who make Catalonia a nationalist region with cosmopolitan principles. The new nationalism smells of cosmopolitan elitism — splendid separatist islands, eluding a world in decay. If you don't want to be with them, you will have to do without them.
Jasmina Tešanović is an author, filmmaker, and wandering thinker who shares her thoughts with BoingBoing from time to time. Email: politicalidiot at yahoo dot com. Her blog is here.
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Previous essays by Jasmina Tešanović on BoingBoing:
– Dragan Dabic Defeats Radovan Karadzic
– Who was Dragan David Dabic?
– My neighbor Radovan Karadzic
– The Day After / Kosovo
– State of Emergency
– Christmas in Serbia
– Neonazism in Serbia
– Korea – South, not North.
– "I heard they are making a movie on her life."
– Serbia and the Flames
– Return to Srebenica
– Sagmeister in Belgrade
– What About the Russians?
– Milan Martic sentenced in Hague
– Mothers of Mass Graves
– Hope for Serbia
– Stelarc in Ritopek
– Sarajevo Mon Amour
– Killing Journalists
– Where Did Our History Go?
– Serbia Not Guilty of Genocide
– Carnival of Ruritania
– "Good Morning, Fascist Serbia!"
– Faking Bombings
– Dispatch from Amsterdam
– Where are your Americans now?
– Anna Politkovskaya Silenced
– Slaughter in the Monastery
– Mermaid's Trail
– A Burial in Srebenica
– Report from a concert by a Serbian war criminal
– To Hague, to Hague
– Preachers and Fascists, Out of My Panties
– Floods and Bombs
– Scorpions Trial, April 13
– The Muslim Women
– Belgrade: New Normality
– Serbia: An Underworld Journey
– Scorpions Trial, Day Three: March 15, 2006
– Scorpions Trial, Day Two: March 14, 2006
– Scorpions Trial, Day One: March 13, 2006
– The Long Goodbye
– Milosevic Arrives in Belgrade
– Slobodan Milosevic Died
– Milosevic Funeral