My friend Michael McCanne, a book and printmaker and a founding editor of Lightful Press will be giving a presentation and slide show about the work of Eloisa Cartonera, an art and editorial project based in Buenos Aires, Argentina who he spent four and a half months working with. There will also be a workshop on the methods that are used to create books out of recycled materials with cardboard covers, how to paint them and bind materials into them. You can make a new book, or bring your own zines or art to use.
In the wake of the 2001/2002 economic collapse two artists, Fernanda Laguna and Javier Barilaro, and a writer, Washington Concurto, initiated Eloisa Cartonera, a cooperative editorial project dedicated to working with Cartoneros (cardboard scavengers) to produce accessible books bound in cardboard. The phenomenon of the cartoneros, who are estimated to number in the tens of thousands, arose as a direct result of the distingration of the Argentine economy under neo-liberal policies of president Carlos Menem and the structural readjustment program of the International Monetary Fund.
Eloisa Cartonera is a part of the multilithic popular response to that crisis, a response that is both creative and based on equal cooperation. The project purchases cardboard directly from Cartoneros at an elevated price and uses it to bind short stories and poetry collections of well know and experimental Latin American writers. The books are stenciled and hand painted in bright colors and then sold for five pesos (equivalent of $1.30). Eloisa produces books in Spanish, English, Portuguese and German and has over one hundred titles.
Since its inception in 2003, Eloisa Cartonera has spawned an organic and independent movement of cartonerias across South and Central America, with workshops in Paraguay, Columbia, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Mexico and Ecuador. Each cartoneria is autonomous and each country has its own unique social and economic situation but Eloisa has set a model. This phenomenon has spread in which people are organizing alternatives by example–organically and without any structure or over-arching hierarchy. In the vacuum left in Argentina, a new mode of production was synthesized; a production based in reuse, creativity and cooperation.