previous chapter
1— Constructing an Audience, Concrete and Illusory: Manifestos for Performing and Performance Manifestos
next chapter

Constructing an Audience, Concrete and Illusory:
Manifestos for Performing and Performance Manifestos

It is necessary . . . to undertake the conquest of the public, seizing its attention by means of artistic coups.
—"Ligera exposición y proclama de la Anti-Academia Nicaragüense"

Comrade reader: A great pleasure and a great honor to discover you.
—"Apresentação," Terra Roxa e Outras Terras

At this moment, we are witnessing the spectacle of ourselves.
—Manuel Maples Arce, Actual—No. 1—Hoja de Vanguardia

On a summer evening in 1931, a group of aspiring young Nicaraguan artists executed a curious recital for a Granada audience. Dressed as a clown and carrying a ladder, a nail, a hammer, and a rope, Luis Downing recited "El arenque," his translation of Charles Cross's "Le Hareng Saur." Simultaneously, Pablo Antonio Cuadra donned boxing gloves and, according to Jorge Arellano's account, declaimed his own poem "Stadium," punctuating his performance with punches in the air. Octavio Rocha, made up as a crocodile, recited selections from the Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén's Sóngoro cosongo (1931). The evening culminated with a dramatic recital by Joaquín Pasos of an early version of the Chinfonía burguesa, a performative, multivoiced poetic


composition that was later transformed into a play. Pasos's recitation was accompanied by an offstage orchestration of drums, cymbals, whistles, and shots (Arellano, "El movimiento," 32–33).

Through this event, the Anti-Academia Nicaragüense (Nicaraguan Anti-Academy) sought to confront a live audience with a palpable manifestation of the varieties of art the group had advocated in its detailed first manifesto published in Granada in April of that year. Although the Anti-Academy was one of the later vanguardist groups to emerge in Latin America, its activities were still reminiscent in spirit of the audience-assaulting, performative phase of the early European historical avant-gardes. An integral part of that movement's carnivalesque legend, this phase included the most notorious early futurist parades and serate, confrontational and occasionally riot-producing evening demonstrations, the dadaist "Africa Nights" in Zurich's Cabaret Voltaire, and the public-provoking manifestations of later Berlin dadaists and early Parisian surrealists. The radical playfulness of these manifestations thinly disguised a serious sense of purpose. These events constituted a fundamental component of the vanguards' exploration of artistic media and the social processes that shape them, as well as the impulse to create new audiences for a new art.[1]

There is a fundamental connection between the oral public manifestation and the written manifesto that usually provided the self-defining cornerstone of vanguardist activity. Both the manifesto and the manifestation assume a polemical stance on a new kind of art; both dramatize the conflict with aesthetic tradition and societal expectations posed by that art; and both seek to resituate the artistic recipient in the eye of the creative storm. Because of the specific cultural environments in which Latin American vanguardism unfolded, audience-engaging evenings such as the Nicaraguan Anti-Academy's multimedia production were somewhat less frequent than the futurists' ribald evenings or Dada's public-provoking events. But the written manifesto was a predilect genre for Latin American vanguardists. In addition, some writers also produced a hybrid of manifestation and manifesto in a singular kind of text I call a performance manifesto. Combining elements of poetry, music, drama, oratory, and sometimes dance, these multigeneric texts constitute scripts for a public performance and build on the intrinsic theatricality of the manifesto itself. Such performance manifestos include Brazilian writer Mário de Andrade's "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga" (1922), Mexican Xavier Icaza's Magnavox 1926 (1926), the Chinfonía burguesa (1931–1936) by the Nicaraguans Joaquín Pasos


and José Coronel Urtecho, and El milagro de Anaquillé (1927) by the Cuban Alejo Carpentier. The manifesto quality of these multigeneric creative works becomes most evident if we examine first the performative qualities of the vanguardist manifesto itself.

Palpable Public Display: Manifestations and Manifestos

From the late teens into the early 1930s, written manifestos that directly confronted an implicit audience with particular aesthetic and cultural positions proliferated in Latin America as widely as the ephemeral groups and little magazines that produced and published them. But because until recently research on Latin America's avantgardes had often focused more on authors and works than on vanguardism as an activity, it is difficult to determine the extent to which self-designated vanguardist groups and individuals engaged in actual public manifestations. But, in addition to the Nicaraguan AntiAcademy's evening of lyric theater, a few other such activities have been documented. The legendary 1922 Semana de Arte Moderna that officially launched the São Paulo phase of Brazilian modernismo included three evenings of audacious multigeneric, multimedia presentations that were confrontational in their novelty: lectures on modernismo and contemporary art by Graça Aranha and Ronald de Carvalho; poetry and prose readings by Mário and Oswald de Andrade, Manuel Bandeira, Ribeiro Couto, Plínio Salgado, and Guilherme de Almeida; exhibitions of cubist paintings by Anita Malfatti and sculptures by Vítor Brécheret; and a piano recital of music by Heitor Villa-Lobos. Mexico's estridentistas gradually took over the Europa café in Mexico City. This establishment, which the group renamed "El café de nadie" (Nobody's Café) and which provided the title and setting for Arqueles Vela's 1926 estridentista novel, was the site of polemics, recitations, and the concoction of group endeavors. In April 1924, for example, the group organized a public exhibition including prose and poetry readings, paintings by various artists, a display of Germán Cueto's "masks" of the group's principal members, and an exhibition of cubist sculpture (Schneider, El estridentismo 85–86). Also, in 1924, the estridentista Luis Quintanilla along with Carlos González and Francisco Domínguez organized the shortlived Teatro del Murciélago, a multidisciplinary project conceived to develop Mexican cultural life in literature, plastic arts, music, and the-


ater. In September, the theater group presented a performative evening at the Teatro Olympia in a multimedia synthesis of folkloric music, dance, and dramatizations designed to promote the idea of a national art as well as to suggest a comprehensive concept of a total performative event (Schneider, El estridentismo 107–8).

In a similar spirit, during the mid-1920s members of Buenos Aires's Florida group produced the Revista Oral , the brainchild of the transplanted Peruvian simplista poet Alberto Hidalgo. Staged at the Royal Keller Caré, each of the review's sixteen "issues," by Christopher Towne Leland's account, included readings or recitations of poetry, polemics, and literary satires, or even public trials of favorite artistic targets such as Argentine poet Leopoldo Lugones (Leland 35). Peru's principal regional vanguardist gathering, the indigenista Grupo Orkopata of Puno that met regularly between 1925 and 1930, periodically counterbalanced its serious seminar-style exchanges on art, literature, folklore, and history with more boisterous and bohemian Pascanas nocturnas (Nocturnal Interludes). On these occasions, group members reportedly dressed up as Indians, drank chicha, chewed coca leaves, and interspersed experimental poetry and prose readings with songs in Quechua and Aymara (Tamayo Herrera 265).[2] In 1929, Puerto Rico's atalayistas, who held regular secret meetings at San Juan's Ateneo puertorriqueño, sought to shock the public with long hair, unusual attire, and new names (such as "Mistagogo en Ayunas" and "Archimpámpano de Zintar"). In July 1930, the group held a public soirée at the Ateneo with guitar music, poetry readings, and a provocative lecture entitled "Cristo debió tener un hijo" (Christ Should Have Had a Son) (LHA 99–105).

More enduring than these extravagant events were the numerous manifestos published in Latin America primarily during the 1920s. These texts served several functions. A few, in particular those produced by the most prolific of Latin America's manifesto writers, Vicente Huidobro, laid out in detail the aesthetic ideas of a particular individual. More commonly, manifestos were published by groups or individuals representing them to announce the creation of a new "ism" or aesthetic orientation, the constitution of a new artistic gathering, or the publication of a new little magazine. Thus manifestos, proclamations, or polemical pieces with a manifesto style or tone appeared in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

If one examines these confrontational documents closely, the re-


casting of vanguardist manifestos into more explicitly performative texts such as Mário de Andrade's "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga" or Pasos and Coronel Urtecho's Chinfonía burguesa seems like an obvious move. The aesthetic details of a particular program advocated by a written manifesto—radical metaphors, disruptive syntax, typographical experiments, free verse, culturally specific art—were often less critical for what these documents communicated than were the expository structures and rhetorical strategies with which these programs were laid out. The prototypical manifesto possessed a highly dramatic structure, and its confrontational discourse put into play conflicting views of art and culture by employing rhetorical strategies with a potentially theatrical effect. In The Futurist Moment, the title for which is drawn from Renato Poggioli's characterization of vanguardism's futuristic phase (Poggioli 68–74), Marjorie Perloff notes the theatrical quality of the futurist manifestos. Indeed, the futurists, Perloff and others have insisted, provided the model for subsequent vanguardist manifestos. While suggesting that he wrote mediocre and derivative poetry and prose, Perloff notes that Marinetti was a brilliant conceptual artist who employed public performances and written manifestos to "transform politics into a kind of lyric theater " (84; my emphasis). In "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," Walter Benjamin noted a similar quality in the vanguards' advocacy of an art of palpable public engagement that eventually unfolded into the Fascist aestheticizing of politics and the Communist politicizing of art (242), two sides of the same audience-engaging coin. It is true, as Nelson Osorio has pointed out, that Latin American writers and critics of the period frequently kept their distance from Marinetti himself (MPP 29),[3] and Latin American manifesto writers of the 1920s drew on varied models, including early Huidobro manifestos, the writings of peninsular Spanish ultraísmo, and, eventually, Parisian Dada and even surrealist activities. But the "futurist moment," as Poggioli demonstrates, is a characteristic that belongs to all of the avant-gardes (68), and, to some extent, this is also true of futurism's rhetorical strategies. Thus many Latin American manifestos possess the striking theatrical tone and display specific dramatic qualities observed by Perloff in the futurist documents.

Specifically, Perloff notes a we-you communicative framework in Marinetti's manifestos, a scheme in which a communal "we" of the artists addresses the collective "you" of the mass audience (87), a group that most manifestos simultaneously provoke and court. I believe that Perloff's observation may be expanded, however, for in many Latin


American manifestos there is actually a more complex we-you-they scheme, a triadic relationship that is fundamental for defining the artistic confrontation that the manifesto embodies. The manifesto's speaking voice frequently assumes the first person, an "I" or a "we" identified with a specific aesthetic or ideological position. But this speaker is actually inclined to address two audiences, one more directly than the other. An explicit audience, the "you" openly addressed, is courted in openly engaging tones. The manifesto's speaker seeks this audience's support for whatever cultural or aesthetic program is being proposed and casts this "you" as an ally in the struggle against the other, more implicit audience that provides a target for the document's attack. This second audience is rarely addressed directly, but the vehemence with which the manifesto's speakers characterize this absent "they" betrays an unconfessed hope that this audience, too, is listening and will be moved. This absent but (it is hoped) eavesdropping audience is held accountable for everything the manifesto challenges: the "fossilized" past, artistic conventions, and outmoded cultural institutions. Thus the manifesto dramatizes a sharply drawn opposition between a new aesthetic program and the implicit, third-person audience whose views it assaults. This communicative scheme is not unlike that adopted by a political candidate who addresses an absent but deliberately unnamed opponent: "There are those who would do things differently." At the same time, the manifesto's explicit recipient, the "you" it openly addresses, is cast in a position analogous to that of the spectator to an almost Manichaean dramatic conflict and is emphatically directed to take sides.

A closer analysis of the Latin American manifestos' communicative structure reveals how essential this scheme is for constructing a concrete identity and artistic position. In her study of Argentina's vanguards, Francine Masiello has insightfully observed that manifestos for different groups constructed diverse images of an artistic self and the foundation for pacts among writers often based on an oppositional stance (70–78). But I am concerned more specifically here with examining the concrete strategies employed in manifestos throughout Latin America for imagining particular kinds of relationships between an artistic group and its varied audiences. Most speaking voices in these documents use specific rhetorical moves to create a sense of collectivity, a single identity constituted through many. Often this is accomplished simply with various forms of the grammatical first-person plural, "nosotros," "nós," "nuestro," and so on. In other cases, as in the first estridentismo manifesto "Actual," a singular, first-person speaker occasionally slips into the plu-


ral but, more important, offers a concluding list of supporters, a "Directory of the Vanguard." This common strategy is employed to legitimize a single speaker through the support of a concrete collectivity. In other cases, as in Alberto Hidalgo's manifesto poem "La nueva poesía," the speaker slides back and forth between a series of "Yo soi" (I am) affirmations and references to groups with whom this "I" identifies, for example, "the men of this Century of War and Valor" (MPP 49). Even Vicente Huidobro, known for an aggressive overuse of the grammatical first person in constructing his individual literary creed, broadens his speaking position in the landmark "Non serviam" manifesto by incorporating his fellow poets into "we" statements and makes similar references in the "Arte poética" of creacionismo: "Only for us do all things exist under the sun" (OC 1: 255). Manifesto-style editorials in both Martín Fierro and Klaxon create a sense of group identity by substituting the journal's name for the personal pronoun and combining this name with a singular verb, for example, "Klaxon is Klaxist" or, more explicitly, "Klaxon has a collective soul" (GMT 295).

Much of what the manifesto's first-person voice actually says serves simply to affirm the speakers' own sense of being and identity: "We are to be!" in the "Gesto" manifesto of noísmo (LHA 245); "We are we" and "We are Green" in Brazil's Verde magazine (GMT 350); "We shall be! We shall be!" in the second manifesto of euforismo (LHA 232); or the simple, affirmative "Somos" ("We Are") title for a manifesto appearing in válvula of Caracas (MPP 277). Martín Fierro makes explicit this affirmation-of-being process: "Martín Fierro feels the indispensable need to define itself" (MPP 134). The concrete definitions that follow identify the speakers closely with the advocated new art or "new sensibility." Both are described with hyperbolic imagery of youth, vitality, newness, potency, freedom, fecundity, aggression, and raw emotion. Thus speakers in noísmo 's "Gesto" manifesto speak of their "youthful audacity" and their "fistful of creative energy" (LHA 242), and the "Manifesto antropófago" characterizes its collective speaker as "strong and vengeful like the Jabuti" (GMT 357). Speakers in Chile's "Rosa náutica" manifesto claim to be a new generation of intellectuals, "ascending to the plains of the sun" (MPP 121), framers of the atalayismo manifesto describe themselves as "warlike spirits" (LHA 247), and the estridentistas are members of the "triumphant ranks" (MPP 125). The theatricality of these characterizations lies in the imagery's palpable dynamism. We can visualize these speakers in emphatic, even frenetic, motion before us, and this quality is reinforced by the long lists of action


verbs that spell out a group's specific artistic program: "let us shout, let us destroy, let us create!" the euforismo manifesto proclaims (LHA 228).

A striking feature of the manifesto's speaking "we" is the reliance on its two audiences, the document's directly addressed "you" and its more obliquely invoked "they," for the process of self-definition. Normally, the manifesto characterizes its directly addressed "you" on a grand scale in terms that are simultaneously specific and select, on the one hand (poets, artists, "special" people), and more general and allencompassing, on the other: "the poets of America," "the youth of America," "the creative spirits," "the men of the universal fraternity," "the youth of the world," "young poets," "all of Mexico's young poets, painters, and sculptors," "the intellectual youth of the state of Puebla," or "the literary youth of Puerto Rico."[4]

The modes of addressing this rhetorical "you" reveal contradictory pulls in the vanguardist project. Specifically, the vacillating between specificity (poets and artists) and a more global generality (the youth of America, for example) manifests the tension in vanguardist discourse between the elitism of the manifesto's speaking voice—a self-selective and privileged "we"—and the impulse to address a mass audience. In his work on the avant-gardes, Andreas Huyssen has recast the term "the great divide" to describe the "volatile" quality that has characterized the relationship between high art and mass culture since the mid-nineteenth century and, more specifically, to designate the kind of critical discourse that distinguishes between the two (vii–viii). In their critique of the previous generation's aestheticism, the European avant-gardes unquestionably attacked such dichotomies but at the same time exacerbated that great divide. For example, although the futurists provoked riots at their serate, in Marinetti's "The Futurist Synthetic Theatre," their objective was to instill a "current of confidence" in the audience (Selected Writings 128). The dadaists declared that they would "spit on humanity" (Ribemont-Dessaignes 109), and yet Tristan Tzara envisioned in Seeds and Bran a utopian, transformational union between artists and a knowledgeable public: "the wisdom of crowds ... joined with the occasional madness of a few delicious beings" (Approximate Man 215).

The Latin American writer who perhaps grasped this tension and expressed it most cogently was José Carlos Mariátegui, editor of the Peruvian vanguardist periodical Amauta, who carried out an extensive critical inquiry into the nature of the European and Latin American


avant-gardes. In Mariátegui's view, contemporary art would best serve its "hedonistic and liberating function" by incorporating the great divide's polarities. Specifically, this art would be simultaneously "rigorously aristocratic" in its vanguardism and "democratic" in its human spirit, qualities that Mariátegui perceived in the works of Charlie Chaplin (OC 3: 74). What sharpens this aristocratic-democratic tension in Latin American manifestos, documents produced primarily in countries with high illiteracy rates and still relatively small reading publics, is the implicit, sometimes confessed, recognition that the desired mass audience the speaker is addressing directly does not really exist as a separate entity but is simply an extension of the speaker's utopian project for change. In part, this admission is manifested in the hyperbolic characterizations of the "you" as an entity far too vast to assume a concrete identity, such as "the men of the universal fraternity" or "the youth of America."[5] But these phrases also manifest the vanguardists' awareness of their common enterprise and the continental spirit, as I have noted, embodied in the university reform movements. In addition, in the manifesto's communicative scheme, verb forms reinforce the mirror identification of this "you" with the manifesto's speaking "we." It is not uncommon for reference to a directly addressed "you" ("young poets") to be followed immediately by a plan for action expressed through the first-person plural imperative form, for example, "let us raise (levantemos ) our voices," a form in which the second person is absorbed by the first. Such forms are common in political rhetoric ("let us move forward ..."), but in the vanguardist manifesto, the "you" is repeatedly equated with the "we," as poets seek the support of poets, American youth speak to American youth, and, as in the case of the Nicaraguan Anti-Academy, speakers seek the support of those exactly like themselves: "We count on the goodwill of all anti-academics" (MPP 377). Occasionally, a manifesto openly confesses that the separate, supportive audience it addresses does not, indeed, exist and must be conjured up or hammered out from an amorphous mass public. Thus the speaker in the "Apresentação" of Terra Roxa e Outras Terras boasts that the journal is destined to a public that does not exist and later adds that this is "a journal in search of a reader" (GMT 341). The speaker addresses this nonexistent audience directly—"the hypothetical and uncertain being for whom we compose this"—and then adds (in the line that provides an epigraph for this chapter), "Comrade reader: A great pleasure and a great honor to discover you" (GMT 342). Thus, to affirm its own existence, the manifesto's speaking "we" advocating a


new art must construct the illusion of a live audience to receive and respond positively to its program.

Equally essential for the manifesto's project is the audience that is never directly invoked, those against whom the speaking "we" define themselves. Interestingly, the manifesto characterizes this absent, adversarial audience that it never acknowledges directly in far more concrete terms than the all-encompassing "you." To some degree, this comes about because many manifesto speakers have certain real-life adversaries in mind, artists or critics from the local scene whose names may even sometimes be mentioned. But, more important, in constructing the collective, integrated speaker, the manifesto relies heavily on what it is challenging, and the oppositional stance is inextricably linked to the speaker's own identity. A typical case is the Martín Fierro manifesto that, before laying out its own program, enumerates what it opposes with the repetitive "as opposed to." The link between the targets of its attack and Martín Fierro 's own identity is reinforced syntactically by blending the list of things opposed into the list of what the journal supports. Similarly, the Brazilian Verde manifesto reveals the relative unimportance attributable to the specific object of attack and emphasizes the indispensability of the adversarial stance itself: "We are who we want to be and not those whom others want us to be," and "We arc different. Even extremely diverse. Much more different than the folks next door" (GMT 349).

Although the manifestos' lists of what was opposed were meticulously detailed and often seemingly endless, most vanguardist groups opposed fundamentally the same things: social and artistic conventions and traditions in general or, in particular, romanticism, symbolism, and/or elements of Spanish American modernismo, particular elements of European vanguardism, or specific writers or critics who somehow stood for these movements. The manifesto's theatrical quality, however, derives from the oppositional stance itself and from the rich, often satirical imagery with which these documents construct an absent, adversarial "they" to complete a triadic communicative scheme. In sharp contrast to the images of youth, vitality, power, and authenticity that characterize the speaking "we," the adversary under attack is constructed with images of fossilization, decay, decrepitude, inauthenticity, and physical and emotional malaise. Thus a sampling of manifestos from numerous countries yields an assortment of similar adjectives used by manifesto speakers to characterize the objects of their attack: "putrid," "rancid," "spongy and sparse," "fossilized," "senile," "sickly,"


"valetudinarian," "atrophied," and "worm-eaten." Particularly colorful noun designations for adversary targets include an estridentismo attack on "ideological rancidolatry" (MPP 125–26) and the "Manifesto antropófago" aversion to "vegetable elites" (GMT 356).

The dramatic oppositions constructed by these documents imply a reader who will be drawn into the conflict, who will identify with the directly addressed "you" of the youth of America, and, more important, who will recoil from the pejorative imagery of decay and decrepitude surrounding the adversary under attack. The rhetorical strategies, moreover, imply a reader who is a flesh-and-blood listener and spectator, a live audience witnessing a performance. The nouns and pronouns of direct address, the enumerative declarations of principles, the easily identifiable and simplistic oppositions, and the clipped, telegraphic phrases marked by exaggeration and insult all contribute to the ambience of an oratorical event, scripted in a text to be read aloud, proclaimed, or performed. In addition, the speaker's cultivation of lyrical prowess and verbal cuteness through comical, insulting, and sometimes scatological one-liners coined to attack the opponent and to characterize the new art reinforces that speaker's identity as a linguistically agile performer. "Tupi or not Tupi," quips the speaker in the "Manifesto antropófago" (GMT 353) while addressing the serious matter of Brazil's response to Europe's primitivist representations of the New World.

A theatrical transition from manifesting to performing is also intimated in the word manifesto, specifically, in its etymological kinship with the verb to make manifest: to make public, to render concrete, to transpose to the sensorial realm, particularly the visual. To manifest is to "make palpably evident or certain by showing or displaying" (Webster's Third International, 1986 ed.), an act that presupposes a viewer. One of the fundamental strategies for involving the spectator in the showing is the reliance on enumeration. Perloff notes that this device, a common political strategy for holding audience attention, showed that the futurist authors meant business (96). But I would add that the manifestos' endless lists, itemized by letters, arabic or roman numerals, or simply the repetition of opening phrases such as "as opposed to . . .," serve other functions as well. Listing is a form of verbal display, a tactic for pulling out, as if from a magician's hat, one item after another and revealing these to an audience. As the list becomes longer and longer, in particular if it includes short, telegraphic phrases, the cumulative effect on the reader-listener is a sensory bombardment reinforced by the verbal aggression in the manifesto's tone. The rapid-fire


list also underscores the theatrical sense of visual and verbal motion already constructed through the image of a powerful and dynamic speaker. These lines from the atalayismo manifesto typify this image: "We the atalayistas ask for the super free power of action because this is the only thing that can coil around our waists the belts of the stars. We want . . . [to] trap the diabolical lightning bolts of danger with the star-spangled lures of our warlike spirits" (LHA 247).

But the manifesto's performative substance derives from more than its oppositional conflict and the ambience of sensorial activity generated by its predilect rhetorical devices. The manifesto's counterposition of divergent attitudes toward art and culture provides the seeds of a story that can be embodied in a dramatic action. Perloff notes that the futurists often surrounded their manifestos' actual proposals with narratives of the group's activities and discoveries. Elements of such site-specific narratives that make direct or oblique reference to the vagaries of a particular group are present in some Latin American manifestos and vanguardist polemical articles.[6] But even when the details are not fleshed out, a potential story underlies each document's oppositional structure, the story of an encounter between the new artists and the old in an environment of conflict, creative energy, and individual or cultural self-affirmation. Through its enactment, this story must imagine its own engaged and informed audience, a spectator who might ultimately play a key role in constructing a new art or culture.

Enacting Artistic Encounters: The Performance Manifesto

The vanguardist manifestos, Poggioli observed, were often written with a prose that was more "fiction and literature . . . than aesthetics and poetics" (71). It is not surprising, then, that vanguardist writers produced manifesto-style creative texts that simultaneously built on the manifesto's performative qualities and developed the narrative seeds that it enclosed. The hybrid creative texts that I call performance manifestos prescribe for concrete public display the new aesthetic relationships and practices espoused in the more straightforward manifestos. Here I examine performance manifestos from Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Cuba. These works enact the stories of adversarial encounters between conflicting views of culture and art, and while the manifesto incorporates the spectator into its communicative scheme,


the performance manifesto recasts the spectator as a character in its story. Not surprisingly, one can often discern explicit connections between these creative works and the authors' more expository writings on art. Generally, however, these performative texts are artistically richer than the average manifesto, and, resisting strict formal or generic classification, they frequently combine poetry, music, dance, narrative, or ritual display. The purpose of these multimedia performances is to spin a palpable tale of cultural encounter that enacts, through metaperformative strategies and metaphors, specific artistic views. In Latin America, moreover, these ostensibly antimimetic works are strikingly culturally specific and make reference to the specific national historical contexts within which modern artistic activity was to emerge.

These texts' performative quality is inextricably linked to their concrete playing out, their "doing," of specific aesthetic positions. Dramatic codes, as Victor Turner argued, are "doing" codes (33), and the performance theorist Richard Schechner has similarly defined performance as an "actualizing" activity, one related to "patterns of doing" (70). In the post-Renaissance, literary Western tradition, Schechner argues, these doing patterns are gradually reencoded as patterns of written words that produced modern drama's reliance on a specialized script. But the avant-gardes, he suggests, refocus attention on the "doing aspects" of a script (71). Vanguardist writers did produce theatrical scripts, and I examine these in a separate chapter. But the more generically hybrid performance texts, with the concretely confrontational quality of a vanguardist manifesto, illustrate an overriding concern with the palpable doing aspects of art. One of the most striking features of the performance manifesto's "doing" of art is its incorporation of the manifesto's speakers and its imagined audiences, both friendly and hostile, into the conflictive story it tells.

Performing Modernismo's Reception:
"As Enfibraturas Do Ipiranga"

An outstanding example is Mário de Andrade's "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga" (translated by Jack Tomlins as "The Moral Fibrature of the Ipiranga"). Subtitled a "profane oratorio," "As cnfibraturas" is the lengthy final composition in the 1922 poetry collection Paulicéia desvairada (Hallucinated City), a founding text of Brazilian modernismo . Significantly, this collection is introduced by the "Prefácio interessantíssimo," one of modernismo 's first manifestos, and concludes with "As enfibraturas," a poetic blueprint for the performance of an


oratorio in verse. Thus the Paulicéia desvairada collection is framed initially by a manifesto that examines the artistic notions underlying its creation and in conclusion by a performance text designed to enact those ideas within the specific socioaesthetic context surrounding the emergence of Brazilian vanguardist activity.

The oratorio's "distribution of voices" is characterized both aesthetically and, as Benedito Nunes has argued, by social status, including the Orientalismos Convencionais (Conventional Orientalisms), "writers and other praiseworthy artisans," played by a "large, imposing, finely tuned chorus of sopranos, contraltos, baritones, and basses"; the Senectudes Tremulinas (Palsied Decrepitudes), millionaires and bourgeoisie, represented by a chorus of castrati; the Sandapilários Indiferentes (Indifferent Pallbearers), workmen and poor people, performed by baritones and basses; the Juvenilidades Auriverdes (Green Gilt Youths), also identified as "we," to be sung by "tenors, always tenors"; and a coloratura soprano soloist representing Minha Loucura (My Madness). With the accompaniment of an orchestra and a band, the oratorio's setting is to be the esplanade of São Paulo's Municipal Theater, a locale that only a few months before Paulicéia desvairada 's appearance had served as the real-life site for the Semana de Arte Moderna's three evening performances launching the modernismo movement. Although "As enfibraturas" situates the band and orchestra on the theater's terrace ("5,000 instrumentalists under the baton of maestros"), vocalists are to perform from different areas of the city: the Orientalismos Convencionais from the theater's windows and terraces; the Senectudes Tremulinas from various city settings (City Hall, the Hotel Carlton) appropriate to their social class; the Sandapilários Indiferentcs from the city's viaduct; the Juvenilidades Auriverdes, their feet buried in the soil, from the Anhangabaú River parks; and Minha Loucura from within the Juvenilidades' midst. In the futuristic spirit, the performance is to be staged "On the Dawn of the New Day."

The oratorio's performers are also characterized by the content of their song and the cues for their performances, and as characters, they represent the adversarial artistic positions embodied in a typical vanguardist manifesto's communicative scheme. Specifically, the piece is organized by an escalating chain of confrontations between the Orientalismos Convencionais (traditional artists) and the Juvenilidades Auriverdes, rebellious youth with creative projects and steeped in the Brazilian soil. Predictably the Senectudes Tremulinas support the Orientalismos Convencionais, while Minha Loucura, identified as the


poet's lyricism, sides with the Juvenilidades Auriverdes. The Sandapilários Indiferentes beg to be left alone. The imagery of their verse identifies the Orientalismos Convencionais with uniformity, unanimity, and rules in art: "No ascents and no verticals whatsoever! / We love the boring flatness." "Our choruses are all on the note of 'do'!" they add, supporting "public sanitation," "moral habits," "ordered productivities," "regular fecundities," as well as Verdi's music, Phidias's sculpture, Corot's painting, Leconte's verses, and the prose of Macedo D'Annunzio and Bourget (55, 59, and 61; JT 83, 91, and 93). The Juvenilidades Auriverdes affirm the aesthetic richness of Brazil, including the "fringed banners of the banana trees" and the "lyricisms of the sabiás and the parakeets" which seek to join "the thundering glorification of the Universal" (53; JT 81).

Against the Orientalismos' orderly world, the Juvenilidades' verse expresses creative dissonance, passion, and martyrdom for the future cause of a new art. Minha Loucura's first solo elaborates in more lyric and less polemical tones an intertwining of poetic yearnings for transcendence with the Brazilianist program posed by the Juvenilidades: "My voice has shining fingers / which will brush against the lips of the Lord; / but my raven-black locks / got entangled in the roots of the jacarandá tree ... / The brains of the swirling cascades / and the boon of the serene mornings of Brazil" (57; JT 87). As the confrontation intensifies, the anger and frustration build until the youths collapse in a final delirium. The other voices recede, night falls, and Minha Loucura chants a lullaby celebrating the Juvenilidades' sacrifice for the art of a new day: "There will still be a sun on tomorrow's gold!" (63; JT 97). The rebellious youths' martyrdom for their aesthetic cause exemplifies what Poggioli labels the "agonistic" moment of vanguardist movements, a moment that poses a hyberbolic image of the artist as victim-hero whose "self-immolation" is the necessary sacrifice for the creation of future art (Poggioli 67–68).

The oratorio's conflicting aesthetic positions are played out in the diverse musical styles of their enactment. The Sandapilários Indiferentes scream from the viaduct "in a black salvo." The Senectudes Tremulinas proclaim, in the measured tempos of a minuet and a gavotte, their support for art of the famous, opera subscriptions, and "elegance by precept." The Orientalismos' performance stresses conformity and power, as their song emerges in a "magnificent tutti," in unison, and with the full accompaniment of both band and orchestra. They sing with regularity (a tempo ) and repetitively (da capo ), as a "solemn funeral


march." By contrast, when the Juvenilidades Auriverdes begin to sing without sufficient rehearsing, many instruments stay silent during the "soulrendering rubato, " executed with rhythmic flexibility within a phrase or measure. As their militancy and passion intensify, the Juvenilidades' renditions run the gamut: "pianissimo," "fantastic crescendo," "in a din," "roaring," "now screaming," "shouting in irregular cadence," and, finally, "mad, sublime, falling exhausted." The more lyric Minha Loucura performs in a "recitative and ballad" style, accompanied by "great glissandi" from the harps.

This composition's contextual markers are evident, particularly its connections with early Brazilian modernismo 's program for change. As Nunes has explained in his insightful study, the titular reference to the Ipiranga creek where Brazilian independence from Portugal was declared is an ironic allusion both to this event, the centenary for which was being celebrated in 1922, and to the simultaneous declaration of artistic liberty (and linguistic liberty from Portugal's Portuguese) undertaken by the Semana de Arte Moderna ("Mário de Andrade: As enfibraturas do modernismo" 69). The neologistic metaphor "enfibraturas," moreover, encompasses a tone of social and moral position taking as well as the aesthetic "fibratures"—intertwinings of voice, image, and music—of the piece's composition. Thematically, the text itself privileges originality, aesthetic deviation, and passion over tradition, artistic convention, and the socioaesthetic order of things. The allusion through the name Juvenilidades Auriverdes to the colors of the Brazilian flag as well as the youths' choices of imagery place the changes they advocate in the context of the cultural nationalism shaping modernismo . In addition, the poet's lyricism, Minha Loucura, situates Mário's own work, specifically, the compositions of Paulicéia desvairada, in the context of aesthetic debates surrounding its production and reception.[7]

Beyond these transparent references to modernismo, the manifesto quality of this script for a performance is evident on one level in explicit textual connections with the "Prefácio interessantíssimo" introducing the Paulicéia desvairada collection. In keeping with Mário's early training in São Paulo's conservatory and forecasting his subsequent achievements as a musicologist, the selection of an oratorio as a performative framework sustains the music-based metaphors of the "Prefácio." Poetic verse, Mário affirmed, had lagged behind musical composition, which for centuries had preferred harmonic over melodic structures. In the Paulicéia desvairada poems, he suggested, a sensation of harmonic


verse, of the simultaneous overlay of elements, had been created by juxtaposing disconnected phrases, creating a "poetic polyphony" (23; JT 12). In keeping with this model, Minha Loucura's lyricism in "As enfibraturas" is shaped by disconnected phrases, and the oratorio as a whole at times overlays the piece's "distribution of voices." Thus the performative text "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga" explicitly displays what the manifesto text "Prefácio interessantíssimo" affirms. The poet's lyricism (Minha Loucura) provides another link between "As enfibraturas" and the preface's references to "the mad dash of the lyric state" and to a lyric impulse that "cries out inside us like the madding crowd" (18 and 21; JT 8 and 11).

In addition to these explicit connections with the "Prefácio interessantíssimo," "As enfibraturas" incorporates into its structure certain communicative features and strategies typical of the vanguardist manifesto. The most evident of these is the text's employment of the hyperbolic image, the feature that Poggioli associates with the vanguards' futuristic and apocalyptic tendencies. If the vanguardist manifesto defined both its speakers and its audiences on a grandiose scale (the youth of America, the citizens of Buenos Aires, all of Mexico's poets), "As enfibraturas" is conceived as a performance that incorporates, either as active participant or reactive spectator, all the citizens of São Paulo. Some perform openly from the esplanade of the city's Municipal Theater, while others are spread out around familiar city sites—buildings, parks, the river. Essentially, "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga" is a script for a performance that is fundamentally not performable. An oratorio is by definition a traditionally large-scale production. But Mário's script requires participation by more than five thousand instrumentalists who will accompany an even larger number of singers, as we hear in the prelude: "All of the 550,000 singers quickly clear their throats and take exaggeratedly deep breaths" (53; JT 81).

As a performance manifesto, moreover, "As enfibraturas" enacts a concrete story of artistic encounter, specifically, the story of early Brazilian modernismo 's conception, self-affirmation, and reception by a diverse São Paulo audience. The characters in that story represent the divergent artistic positions embodied in a typical manifesto's communicative scheme. Specifically, the manifesto's speaking "we" is enacted by the Juvenilidades Auriverdes with the support of Minha Loucura, with whom they identify and associate. Although several of the oratorio's participating groups introduce themselves with the first person ("We are the Orientalismos Convencionais"), only the Juvenilidades are


openly identified in the introductory "distribution of voices" with a parenthetical "nós." This privileged first-person perspective is reinforced by the possessive pronoun designating Minha Loucura.

Most important, "As enfibraturas" recasts the vanguardist manifesto's characteristic two audiences (the "you" and the "they") as participating oratorio performers and literally gives them a voice. As a performance text, the work makes tangible what a manifesto only affirms, that is, the relationship between the "doing" of an artistic composition and the work's intended recipients. The piece's visual qualities are essential for bringing this about. An oratorio is by definition a more auditory than visual event (there is traditionally no action, scenery, or costume), but, as in a vanguardist manifesto, Mário's multigeneric script insists on visual components, and the oratorio's performance site, São Paulo's Municipal Theater, implies something one goes to watch. The spectatorly or "watching" component of this performance is underscored in the text's epigraphic quote from Hamlet (cited in English): "O, woe is me / To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!" (52; JT 77). In addition, although an oratorio's action is traditionally embodied in verbal and musical exchange, when "As enfibraturas" culminates with the Juvenilidades' frenzied collapse, a scene (to be seen) is described: "The orchestra has vanished in fright. The maestri have succumbed. Night has fallen, besides; and in the solitude of the thousand-starred night the Green Gilt Youths, having fallen to the ground, are weeping" (62; JT 95).

But who is watching? Who sees the orchestra vanish and the night fall? As with the vanguardist manifesto, the speaking "we" in "As enfibraturas," enacted by the Juvenilidades with support from Minha Loucura, addresses two audiences. The adversarial audience, against whom the speaker assumes a specific aesthetic identity, is defined in the more palpable terms. Embodied in the Orientalismos Convencionais (traditional artists), this group is supported by the bourgeois and millionaire Senectudes Tremulinas, designated with a name that recalls the imagery of malaise and decrepitude employed to characterize the typical manifesto's oppositional "they." The participation of these voices, representing conforming and orderly art, is essential for the "nós" (the Juvenilidades) to construct its antagonistic self-affirmation. Although this adversarial group participates in the performance, moreover, it is also assigned a more explicitly audience-style identity in the city's final response to the Juvenilidades' program for aesthetic reform. As Minha


Loucura concludes the final lullaby to the Juvenilidades, the latter sleep "eternally deaf" to the "enormous derision of whistles, catcalls, and stamping of feet" that bursts forth from around the city (64; JT 99). This negative reception enacts the response by São Paulo's cultural elite (embodied in the oratorio's Orientalismos Convencionais) both to the oratorio itself and to the real-life Semana de Arte Moderna program it dramatizes.

As with the "you" of a vanguardist manifesto, the oratorio's other audience is openly addressed as the reader, defined as a virtual listener and watcher for the performance of "As enfibraturas." Comparable to the explicit audience of a vanguardist manifesto, this spectator is asked to intervene in the performance by taking sides in the polemic. At one point, while the Orientalismos Convencionais enumerate the conventions they favor, the endless series becomes a list of repeated suffixes preceded by blank words: "——— cidades," or, in English,"——— cities." A footnote instructs the reader to fill in the blanks according to personal preferences. If one favors the Orientalismos, the suffixes should be preceded by names of admired São Paulo writers; if the spectator favors the Juvenilidades, names of detested writers may be used. Although here the text offers a choice of allegiances, it subsequently instructs the reader-spectator which side to favor. As the Juvenilidades collapse in exhausted rage, they emit a final outburst against their detested opponents: "Seus ——— !!!" (You ——— !!!) (62; JT 95). The reader is directed to complete the expletive with the filthiest word known, a move incorporating this implicit spectator into the performance that would be witnessed as well as the Juvenilidades' program for aesthetic reform.

Both of these audiences are essential for dramatizing the performance text's story of Brazilian modernismo . The negative response to the Orientalismos Convencionais assigned to the oratorio's directly addressed audience casts that reader-spectator as the illusory, supportive audience necessary for the Juvenilidades' program of cultural renewal. In contrast, the final whistling, catcalling, and foot stomping by an adversarial public (extensions of the Orientalismos) plays out a hostile reaction to the poet's lyricism, Minha Loucura, and, by extension, to Paulicéia desvairada , the innovative poetic collection of which this performance forms an integral part and the reception to which it forecasts and records.


Contending for Mexico's Audiences—Magnavox 1926: Discurso Mexicano

Published in 1926 by Xavier Icaza, a writer with estridentismo connections, Magnavox 1926 prescribes a performance on an equally panoramic scale. Comparable to "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga," this text's generic identity is ambiguous, presenting a synthesis of theater, narrative, and polemic. This generic ambiguity, noted by John S. Brushwood in his study of vanguardism in Icaza's work (10), also characterizes Icaza's most experimental novel, Panchito Chapopote (1928).[8] Although Magnavox 1926 is subtitled a "discurso," in the text's preface, Icaza calls it a farce and notes its theatrical form (16–17). Moreover, lists of the author's literary productions appearing in later works often include the piece under "theater."[9] The work speaks directly of the postrevolutionary context in which it was written. According to the preface, Icaza wrote Magnavox 1926 when he returned to Mexico after a year's absence and sought to present "the panorama of today's Mexico" (19). Specifically, he explains, the text seeks to dramatize conflicting ideological perspectives vying for control of Mexico's social and cultural future: the idealistic-mystic, the conservative-practical, the leftist-Communist, and the autochthonous-nationalist. In Magnavox 1926, these views are played out by individual voices seeking to address Mexico's people. These addresses are physically laid out in the text like the dialogue in a play. The dialogue is intercalated with narrative interventions that provide social background and historical summary. These narrative sections consist of the clipped, synthetic statements characteristic of vanguardist creative works and manifestos but are also, as Brushwood has pointed out, analogous to stage directions in a play (12). Statements such as "Mexico remakes itself" (23), "Elections. The people don't go to the polls" (26), and "Nobody pays attention" (30) are typical of these "stage directions."

As a performance text, Magnavox 1926 is organized into six scenes separated by these stylized narrative sections. In the initial scene, following narrative stage directions about the state of the nation, various segments of the population, including a reactionary, a missionary, teacher, and an Indian, speak to illustrate the point. Each of the following four scenes consists of a "discurso" or speech by a voice representing one of the four ideological positions in contention for Mexico's future. Each speech is followed by its reception among various segments of society. Three of the four speeches emanate from a separate


"magnavox" or loudspeaker, each placed inside a different Mexican volcano. A woodcut by the estridentista artist Ramón Alva de la Canal precedes the text's preface and spells out visually the written text's performative scenario. A man, humble in demeanor and dress, stands on a pyramid surrounded by cacti and faces a volcano. A periscope-style loudspeaker protrudes from its crater, and two more look out from alongside it. Because of his location facing the volcano with his back to the implicit reader and potential "onstage" spectator of Magnavox 1926, this man can be seen as the intended audience of the loudspeaker's performance. In the text, the voice of José Vasconcelos, presenting the idealist-mystic view of Mexicans' future as a cosmic race, delivers the first speech from a loudspeaker inside the Popocatepetl crater. The second voice, that of an Italian journalist urging Mexico to emulate the southern cone countries by encouraging immigration and foreign investments, emanates from a loudspeaker in Ixtlaccihuatl. From the peak of Orizaba, a third loudspeaker projects Lenin's voice amid thunderbolts, proletarian canons, and the notes of the Internationale. These performances elicit various responses from the chorus of scientists, the "indignant" students of America, the chorus of the mediocre, and even from Romain Rolland (from the Alps) and Alfonso Reyes (from the Eiffel Tower). But ordinary Mexican people, the intended audience for the magnavox speeches, only ignore what they hear, yawn, laugh, dance, cry, or shrug their shoulders.

As Icaza spells out in the work's preface, Magnavox 1926 favors the fourth speech, that is, the autochthonous-nationalist perspective on Mexico's future. Following the first three speeches delivered through loudspeakers, Shakespeare takes the stage to explain the meager response from ordinary people: "Words, words, words . . ." (39). At this moment, the fourth and principal speaker, Diego Rivera (object of the estridentistas' great admiration), scales the pyramids of Teotihuacán and agrees: "That old Shakespeare is right. Those are pure talkers" (39). Eliciting sparks as he strikes the pyramid of the sun, Rivera speaks, advocating works over words: "Let us learn from the pyramid builders. Let us continue their interrupted work. Let us realize Mexican works. It is imperative to be of the country. It is imperative to express Mexico" (40). Significantly, Rivera is the only speaker to address his audience without a magnavox and the only one to capture unified public attention and receive a positive reception: "Creative masses have gathered at the foot of the pyramid. Painters, some literati, agronomists, teachers, all resolved to realize Mexican works" (40).[10]


The manifesto qualities of Magnavox 1926 operate on multiple levels. The piece dramatizes conflicting views on Mexico's future and the reception of those views by an explicit audience, Mexico's people. By enacting the story of that conflict, the work establishes a concrete relationship with debates about Mexican cultural and aesthetic autonomy that provide a context for estridentismo activity. These debates, which included Vasconcelos's tributes to cultural mestizaje, also surround vanguardist production in the visual arts, in particular the work of Diego Rivera and other muralists. Comparable to "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga" in this sense, Magnavox 1926 openly advocates an autochthonous position for shaping culture and ideology. In addition, the work acts out the more explicitly estridentista position on the engagement of art with life, a view of art as only one of several forms of action that ought to constitute a modern and dynamic Mexican scene. This implicit integration of artistic activity with other kinds of work is often evident in the piece's narrative stage directions: "The students organize themselves. The workers unionize. The farmers unite. The artists don't let go of their paintbrushes. The writers, although nobody notices them, persevere and write" (27–28). As Brushwood points out, the piece also has important connections with Icaza's own more expository writings on Mexico's cultural life, including the work's "Proemio" and ideas delineated in "La revolución y la literatura," a 1934 lecture delivered at the Palacio de Bellas Artes.

The rhetorical strategies employed in Magnavox 1926 also contribute to the ambience of a performance manifesto. All of the work's speakers, including the external narrative voice that emits the clipped stage directions and the internal voices addressing Mexico's people, speak with affirmative, polemical maxims in the manifesto mode: "It is imperative to make a nation," "It is imperative to create," or "It is imperative to be Mexicans" (28, 40). Similar to the Juvenilidades Auriverdes in Mário's piece, here Diego Rivera assumes the voice of a manifesto's speaking "we," employing one of that genre's predilect communicative forms, the first-person, plural imperative that incorporates speaker and audience into one: "Let us learn from the pyramid builders. Let us continue their work uninterrupted. Let us realize Mexican work" (40). Through its incorporation of the vanguardist manifesto's hyperbolic imagery, Magnavox 1926 is the script for as unperformable a performance as the Brazilian "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga." Invoking metaphors of modern communicative technology, the work stages a global-scale interaction among distant voices from New York, Paris,


Moscow, the Alps, and Argentina, with interventions from such totalizing characters as "the students of all America." And if Mário's piece incorporates its gargantuan audience, the citizens of São Paulo, into its own performance, Magnavox 1926 does the same with the equally comprehensive "Mexican people."

But the most marked performative and manifesto quality in Icaza's text is the tension between doing and words, between the dynamically visual and the auditory. Both "As enfibraturas" in its subtitle ("Profane Oratorio "; my emphasis) and Magnavox 1926 in its title invoke communicative forms sustained by sound. But both undermine the auditory mode with the visual imagery of powerful and dynamic speakers (or singers, in Mário's work) typical of the vanguardist manifesto. In Icaza's piece, this speaker is constructed through the image of Diego Rivera whose immediate physical presence contrasts with the distant voices trying to reach Mexico's people through the magnavox: "Those are pure talkers,—Diego Rivera shouts, climbing the Teotihuacán pyramids. Diego Rivera gives his cane an Apizaco strike, producing sparks on the top of the pyramid of the sun" (39). And after his speech: "Diego Rivera descends with a sure step, with his head held high, and with a thick cane" (40).

This performative interaction of the visual with the verbal is further underscored in the text's use of the woodcut to depict graphically its own performative situation. The scene of the Mexican man facing the magnavoxes emerging from the volcanoes emphasizes that the work's performance is something to be seen as well as heard. In the text's privileging of visible work and action over words, moreover, this woodcut lays bare the performance metaphors that Magnavox 1926 employs to make its point. The image of a loudspeaker inside a volcano is more than an obvious juxtaposition of the modern with the indigenous, or of technology with nature. It also presents a farcical play-within-theplay, a palpable image for the duplicity of the theatrical that embodies something disguised as, playing the part of, or representing something else. Though they might appear to spring forth from the volcanoes, the voices the loudspeakers magnify actually come from somewhere else, as Vasconcelos speaks from New York, the Italian journalist from Argentina, and Lenin from Moscow. More important, the magnavox projects a technological duplication, amplification, and distortion of the human voice; the result lacks that voice's immediacy and presence and also, the text's deceptive imagery suggests, its power. By contrast, Rivera's lightning-inducing voice is cast as unmediated and immediate, visually


present and powerful. Like theater that seeks to abolish the theatrical, Rivera's brief speech calls for the end of speeches in favor of creativity and action: "There is no need to talk. The Indian does not pay any attention because he is too intelligent and senses that words are superfluous. One must do things. One must create" (40). Extending the performative metaphor, the reaction to Rivera's speech to the assembled "creative masses," including painters, writers, and farmers resolved to carry out "Mexican work," constitutes a kind of cataclysmic Artaudian visual theater of passionate movement.

Tocotines y Santiagos lo rodean (Rivera), en danza gigantesca. Las pirámides parecen revivir. Algo flota en el aire. El Águila y la Serpiente triunfan desde un sol rojo. Se enciende el holocausto en la pirámide. Una violenta ráfaga lo apaga y aparecen hogueras en lo alto de la serranía que oprime el valle. Las profecías se cumplen. El aire se estremece. Es que ya Quetzalcoatl torna a vivir entre los suyos. (41)[11]

(Tocotines and Santiagos surround him, in a gigantic dance. The pyramids appear to revive. Something floats in the air. The Eagle and the Serpent triumph from a red sun. The holocaust is ignited on the pyramid. A violent gust extinguishes it and flames appear on the heights of the mountains that oppress the valley. The prophecies are fulfilled. The air trembles. It seems that Quetzalcoatl is now returning to live among his own.)

Because Rivera's direct address is the only one to cross the line between speaker and audience and elicit a respo9nse, his words undermine the mediated experience embodied in the magnavox and suggest cultural forms that might abolish the distances between performer and audience, art and life. As in "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga," Magnavox 1926 dramatizes its own reception and poses two different kinds of audience. But the communicative scheme that organizes Icaza's piece is somewhat more intricate than the one shaping Mário's oratorio. Duplicating the tension I have noted in vanguardist manifestos between the desire to speak directly to other artists and the desire to reach a mass audience, Magnavox 1926 poses two levels of performance and reception. In this vein, it is noteworthy that the Mexican piece was composed during the postrevolutionary era of educational reform and literacy campaigns undertaken through Vasconcelos's leadership in the Ministry of Public Education. Thus, within the narrative frame and at the level of the theatrical dialogue, the piece dramatizes efforts to reach the intended recipients of the four "discursos," that is, the various segments of Mexico's population who alternately ignore and respond to what they hear. Revealing the performance manifesto's ambivalence toward


a truly mass audience, this "discurso" audience is cast as both adversarial and friendly. It is mentioned in the narrative stage directions and addressed in the four speeches. When it fails to respond to the magnavox speeches, this audience is described as an indifferent "they." However, it responds ("the masses applaud") when directly addressed through Rivera's imperative "we": "Let us realize Mexican work" (40).

At the level of the narrative frame itself, however, it becomes clear that the authorial voice that provides the stage directions for the piece's performance is speaking not to "the masses" addressed by Rivera but to somebody else. In the work's closing scene, as a cacophony of overlapping voices suggests that Mexico's future remains unresolved, that authorial voice becomes more polemical and delivers its own "discurso," to the simultaneously broadly defined and elite audience typical of the vanguard manifesto: "But the select group reacts. It launches its cry of nonconformity" (45; my emphasis). This group, the narrative voice declares in conclusion (and once again echoing a manifesto's futuristic tone), is "that youth of ours" in whose hands lies "the security of a brilliant future, child of its creative impetus" (47). It is this elusive and illusory creative audience, youthful builders of the future, that the principal performer in Magnavox 1926 dearly desires to reach.

Art of the People or Art for the Few: The Chinfonia Burguesa

In the spirit of Mário de Andrade's "profane oratorio," a musical metaphor also shapes the Chinfonía burguesa (1931–36; Bourgeois Chymphony), a farcical performance manifesto written by the Nicaraguans Joaquín Pasos and José Coronel Urtecho. First published in 1931 as a dramatic poem but transformed in 1936 into a "farseta," the Chinfonía was staged three times by Nicaragua's Anti-Academy. In its parody of bourgeois art and its deployment of musical motifs, this piece resembles "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga," but in combining vanguardist strategies with a multitude of colloquial linguistic forms, it places even greater emphasis on language play in an exaltation of living speech. The piece also embodies the Nicaraguan vanguardists' affirmation of autochthonous art.

Employing an opera buffa style and based on a traditional Hispanic coloquio, the Chinfonía burguesa gives brief testimony to the tragicomic life of a petit bourgeois couple—Don Chombón (also called Don Trombón, Don Bombón, or Don Bombín) and Doña Chomba (Doña Tromba or Doña Bomba)—whose only daughter, Fifí, "pretty like a


tití," marries a younger, third-rate poet, the pueta . The issue of this unfortunate union includes endless lines of execrable verse parodying the excesses of latter-day Spanish American modernismo and the "nieto garrobo" (iguana grandson), named Jacobo, "producto del robo / que es una mixtura impura / de la poesía y la burguesía" (product of the theft / that is an impure mixture / of poetry and the bourgeoisie) (35).[12] The domestic complacency and aesthetic sterility of this liaison are self-perpetuating; although Doña Chomba fears that the pueta 's arrival signals her family's ruin, the longer he stays in the bourgeois ambience, the less poetry he produces and the more contented with his presence the others become. The materialist idyll is abruptly interrupted by death, who whisks them all away in her bag. In contrast to the labored rhymes and banal imagery emanating from the pueta, the rest of the piece unfolds in a range of popular verse, repetitive rhymes, wordplays, tongue twisters, and onomatopoetic play shaping the speech of other characters.

On the most evident level, the Chinfonía constitutes a comic but acerbic critique of the relationship between conventionalized art forms and bourgeois society and of the specific linguistic formulas such forms generate. The work's literary theme is announced in the opening metatheatrical prologue declaimed by actors portraying individual furniture pieces in Don Chombón's parlor and assuming a narrative role. In turn, they introduce themselves, the other characters, and the subject matter of the performance: the family's "meritorious history / summary and literary" (16). This is, the spectator is clearly told, a literary story, a fact reinforced by Don Chombón's lengthy inventory of personal possessions including a predilect aesthetic object, his beloved "pianola Manola," the player piano who is his "principal muse." This bourgeois reification of the aesthetic is reinforced by the characterization of the pueta 's verse as a "rhyme seat" on which he sits while courting Fifí. It is primarily the pueta himself and the language of his art that enact the play's critique of conventional art. The young artist seduces the object of his affection with compulsive versification, an unwitting parody of the labored rhyme schemes and overdone metrical patterns, metaphors, and synesthesias of bad poetry:

Tu mano cálida como el verano
me da una impresión de pajarito
chiquito en confesión,
y ante la porosidad de tu


se me quita del dedo el miedo
a don Chombón.
Tus miradas cargadas
de babosadas
ponen mi corazón acurrucado
como un puño cerrado
mientras el tuyo está inquieto
como un secreto,
pero tu cabeza está tiesa
con su moña ñoña
y siento en tus piernas tiernas
y en tus pies al revés
las perezas de las patas de las
y las cosquillas de las ancas de las
sillas. (24)

As a performance manifesto, the Chinfonía has concrete connections with the Nicaraguan vanguardists' program for artistic renewal. The group's dual agenda, to modernize literary expression and to create a viable national tradition, was set forth in the Nicaraguan Anti-Academy's manifesto, published in Granada's Diario nicaragüense in April 1931. On the one hand, the group's stated goal was to disseminate in Nicaragua "the vanguard techniques that have dominated in the world for more than ten years but are almost unknown in Nicaragua" (MPP 378). This enterprise was undertaken through the translation of French and North American poets. The ultimate purpose of this aesthetic modernization campaign, on the other hand, was to enable young writers to "feel the nation," to "express national emotion," to "give free rein to the emotion of existing and being (ser y estar ) in Nicaragua," and, above all, to "undertake the artistic re-creation of Nicaragua" (MPP 377–78). To this end, the young poets affirmed their intention to create national poetry, national theater, and national painting, sculpture, music, and architecture. Because of its concrete emphasis on linguistic performance, moreover, the Chinfonía burguesa manifests the Nicaraguan Anti-Academy's focus on autochthonous language, a reaction in part against North American cultural influence. If "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga" and Magnavox 1926 may be considered performance manifestos, the Chinfonía is the manifesto for a particular kind of "doing" with words. The explicitly linguistic nature of the Anti-Academy's search for national art forms was affirmed in the group's polemical "Cartelón de vanguardia" (Vanguard Poster) that embraced linguistic invention (50A 173).


Although the Nicaraguan work does not unfold on the panoramic scale that shapes "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga" and Magnavox 1926 , it, too, is marked by the hyperbolic imagery typical of a vanguardist manifesto. But in the Chinfonía the hyperbole unfolds at the level of farce: the bourgeoisie's materialist obsessions that reify aesthetic objects (the pianola Manola, the "rhyme seat"); the sterile bourgeois-pueta union that generates an iguana instead of a child; the poet who becomes totally inert through his association with the bourgeoisie; and the characters who literally perish from boredom reinforced by the pueta 's verse. Something of the vanguardist manifesto's apocalyptic tone permeates the arrival of the cronely death in the Chinfonía as well as the inevitability of her determination that all must be carried away in her bag. Inverting the voluntary self-destruction of the vanguardist poet that unfolds in "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga" and that, Poggioli notes, typifies vanguardism's futurist moments, the death and removal without a trace of Don Chombón's resident pueta seems to be the necessary sacrifice for the worthy cause of a future new art.

As a performance manifesto, the Chinfonóa burguesa puts into play conflicting views on culture and art. Specifically, the piece tells the story of the confrontation between the conventionalized art forms sanctioned by bourgeois society and the playful, linguistic experimentation with which the Chinfonía itself unfolds and which is advocated by Nicaragua's vanguardists. As with "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga," the piece's adversarial, indirectly addressed audience—the audience that corresponds to the vanguardist manifesto's "they"—is embodied in major characters. In "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga," the work's "nós," performed by the Juvenilidades Auriverdes and Minha Loucura, defines itself artistically in opposition to the Orientalismos Convencionais and the supporting, bourgeois Senectudes Tremulinas. In the Chinfonía 's farcical structure, this oppositional group under attack takes center stage in the form of the pueta and the bourgeois family that harbors him. As in a vanguardist manifesto, this unhealthy, iguana-generating adversary corresponds to the bourgeois audience the Nicaraguan AntiAcademy characterized, for example, in José Coronel Urtecho's essay "Contra el espíritu burgués," as "anemic," "feeble," and "consumptive" (50A 95). Here, however, the work's implicit, speaking "we" that defines itself in opposition to the pueta 's art is embodied not in concrete characters but rather in the work's own parodic form. Although there is no specific character incarnating artistic renewal, through this experimental form, the Chinfonía poses an alternative view of art in


contrast to the exhausted literary tradition the pueta's cumbersome verse is intended to parody.

Ostensibly, the Chinfonía is a "farseta" in a prologue, two acts, and an epilogue, scenic demarcations that superficially organize the brief character encounters. But more significant is the play's identity as a chinfonía, a metaphor for a creative process described by Joaquín Pasos in "Un ensayo de poesía sinfónica." This concept refers in part to the interweaving of voices in a single composition. Such an interweaving is explicit in the Chinfonía 's earlier, poetic version that includes seven sections, each with a musical title: Prelude in Bourgeois Form, Domestic Andante, Dialogue a la Sordina, Agitato Furioso, Commercial Moderato, Psychic Piano, and a Final Honeymoon. The creation of a sinfonía-chinfonía, Pasos explains in his essay, is analogous to the principles of symphonic orchestration but without musical pretensions (50A 54–56). This nonlinear organization of an aesthetic exercise is comparable to the distribution of overlapping voices in "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga." The Chinfonía's simultaneity, however, functions on the level of primary linguistic elements, synthesizing words, syllables, and sounds into a symphony of voices. This process can be seen in the Chinfonía lines distributed among individual character voices that, if articulated with precise timing, create the synthetic effect of the chinfonía .

   (Se oyen golpes en la puerta)
Una voz adentro
   ¡Tan! ¡Tan!
   al zaguán . . .
   (Todos los actores de los muebles esconden la cabeza)
Inmediatamente la voz de doña Chomba—adentro

   Ten, ten la puerta Norberta Berta
                                                                       (Pasa Norberta )
    La voz de la puerta—dando un golpe—
    La voz de don Chombón—adentro
   la mesa, Teresa,
   la tortilla tiesa,
   la mayonesa
   la salsa inglesa
   la . . .
Voz de doña Chomba (adentro )
   Ssssssssssssss . . .

Ambos cónyuges a la vez (saliendo)


Una voz adentro
   Chon (16–17)

  (Knocks on the door are heard )
A voice inside
   ¡Tan! ¡Tan!
   al zaguán . . .
   (All of the actors of furniture pieces hide their heads )
Immediately the voice of Doña Chomba—inside—
   Ten, ten la puerta Norberta Berta
                                                                       ( Norberta passes )

    The voice of the door—slamming
    The voice of Don Chombón—inside
   la mesa, Teresa
   la tortilla tiesa,
   la mayonesa
   la salsa inglesa
   la  . . .
The voice of Doña Chomba (inside )
   Ssssssssssssss  . . .
Both spouses at once  (coming out )
A voice inside

As I have noted, the image of a dynamic speaker is fundamental for constructing the vanguardist manifesto's speaking "we." In the Chinfonía, however, this collective speaker emerges not in the form of specific characters (there are no designated vanguard poets onstage) but rather in the work's foregrounding of the creative and productive verbal activity of dynamic speaking itself. The interaction among characters is a fundamentally linguistic relationship, developed through the symphony of sounds they create together. Thus the collectively elaborated chinfonía provides a humorous and rhythmical contrast to the awkward exchanges between the pueta and Fifí. Essentially, the work contrasts two views of art by contrasting two kinds of performance. The piece designates the bourgeois family's final exchange a "tertulia de la digestión," a digestive gathering, but the tertulia can also refer to a theater's upper gallery. This digestive allusion calls to mind the Brechtian designation "culinary theater" for the tradition his experimental epic theater sought to challenge.[14] On the level of its banal dramatic action, the Chinfonía parodies the sentimental story sustaining bourgeois, culinary


theater. In contrast, the Chinfonía 's linguistic forms present a theater of performance that undermines its rather ordinary script for action with a concrete display of a new kind of art.

But this performance has an audience, and as a performance manifesto, the Chinfonía alludes directly to its spectator's presence. As I have demonstrated, the bourgeois family and its poet-in-residence incarnate an implicit audience whose artistic tastes and behavior are attacked (the vanguardist manifesto's "they"). But although it is not embodied onstage, another audience is invoked. A present spectator is directly addressed in the furniture's introductory speeches ("I am Paquilla the Chair"), and this presence is underscored with occasional metatheatrical gestures, for example, when Don Chombón begs for the curtain to fall (on his misfortunes) or takes solace in the fact that this is, after all, only a play. The "you" that this present spectator implies, however, exemplifies the vanguardist manifesto's ambivalence toward the audience it is attempting to reach as well as the tensions in vanguardist discourse between art for the few and art for the many. In its appropriation of popular linguistic forms, the Chinfonía both addresses and incorporates into its performance the potential mass audience for whom those forms constitute a familiar and known tradition. By incorporating that familiar "doing-with-words" into a farcical and parodic context, however, the piece also constructs an audience that would share the aesthetic concerns of the Chinfonía authors (and of the Nicaraguan Anti-Academy). This audience, implied through such distancing moves as the furniture pieces' introductory and narrating roles, is called on to recognize the work's literary concerns and to participate in advancing the aesthetic program for Nicaragua's cultural renewal that the Chinfonía embodies.

Cultural Collisions through Performance: El milagro de Anaquillé

In a comparably autochthonous spirit, Alejo Carpentier's El milagro de Anaquillé (1927; The Miracle of Anaquillé) synthesizes strategies from music, dance, theater, and Afro-Cuban ritual into a performable manifestation of the writer's carly ideas about culture and art. Subtitled an "Afro-Cuban choreographic mystery in one act," the ballet was eventually staged in postrevolutionary Cuba, accompanied by Amadeo Roldán's music. The ballet's script constructs a scene and prescribes character actions, movement, and gestures in order to enact a confrontation between two cultural orientations toward performance: the mak-


ing of a film "on location" in the Hollywood mode and an Afro-Cuban ñáñigo initiation ceremony.

Ballet characters include a North American businessman, sailor, and flapper, a ñáñigo Diablito (little devil), the Iyamba (supreme leader of Afro-Cuban ñáñigo religious cults), a group of guajiros (Cuban peasants), eight sugarcane carriers, and the Jimaguas, twin divinities of Afro-Cuban witchcraft who are joined by a rope around their necks. The ballet's set is marked out by two bohíos (thatched huts) on either end of the stage: the principal guajiro 's hut on one side and, on the other, the Iyamba's. A young boy's fearful face is painted over the door to the guajiro 's hut, and a gaudy image of San Lázaro adorns the entrance to the Iyamba's hut. A sugarcane field and palms form a backdrop, behind which three enormous stylized sugar mill chimneys loom over the scene. Movements in each of the ballet's eight scenes correspond to specific musical tempos in Roldán's score. The principal guajiro and his companions relax in front of his bohío by playing music after work, when they are interrupted by the confrontation between the American businessman-filmmaker and the Iyamba. The unfolding encounter is cast as two competing performances, two plays-withinthe-ballet, with the guajiro as a captive audience. To underscore this division between actors and spectators onstage, the businessman and the Jimaguas wear masks, move like automatons, and appear "unreal and monstrous" (OC 1: 271). By contrast and as spectators of these competing displays, the guajiros are to look "natural," wear no makeup, and appear almost pale. The performances they witness enact a confrontation between two cultural orientations toward art in a series of interlocking representations of one culture by another.

In scene 1, the guajiros return from work, pulling a toy horse that they shove offstage. While the guajiros strum a guitar and begin a gentle zapateo (foot-tapping dance), the businessman enters in scene 2 wearing a giant mask that doubles the size of his head. A caricature of the North American tourist, he sports a checkered suit with golf pants, thick wool socks, and an unusual hat. He is also weighed down by paraphernalia: a collection of strange posters, a bicyclc tire pump, mysterious packages, and a movie camera tripod slung over his shoulder. The guajiros stop their dance to watch him. After carefully inspecting the place and the people, the businessman summons the sailor and the flapper who enter in scene 3, dancing a disjointed black-bottom. While the guajiros watch the dance "stupefied," the businessman engages in a flurry of frantic activity. First he plasters the Iyamba's hut and the tool


shed with posters advertising products and services, from Wrigley's gum to the "Church of the Rotarian Christ (The biggest in the world )" (OC 1: 273; original in English). Next, "as to inflate an imaginary tire" (OC 1: 273), he works the bicycle pump in a row of cane. As he pumps, a skyscraper gradually inflates behind the cane. When the building reaches a certain height, the pump detonates and the black-bottom music ceases. In scene 4, the businessman dresses the flapper as a Spanish dancer and the sailor as a bullfighter. Surrounded by the guajiros, they execute a burlesque Spanish dance as the businessman films the scene. As the sailor—bullfighter pins the Spanish dancer to the ground with his sword, the dancers freeze in a "ridiculously" dramatic pose (OC 1: 274).

In scene 5, the cane carriers and the Iyamba solemnly enter and deliberately file before the camera, destroying the film-in-progress. Ignoring the businessman's ensuing tantrum, the Iyamba removes the posters from his hut, and when the businessman moves to protest, the Iyamba's forceful glance stops him in his tracks. As the Iyamba places larger-than-life earthen bowls, shells, and feathers on a bench in front of his hut and under San Lázaro's image, the cane carriers squat in a circle around the bench. In scene 6, the Iyamba's group performs a ñáñigo initiation ceremony that includes the Diablito dance. With heightened interest, the businessman sets up his camera in front of the Iyamba's hut, dresses the sailor in a tiger skin and the flapper in a Hawaiian dance costume, directs the actors to join the initiates, and begins to film again. In scene 7, as the initiates stop the actors from entering the scene, a confrontation ensues between the two "directors." The Iyamba and the Diablito conjure up flames under the businessman's nose, and he, in turn, throws down his tripod and destroys the San Lázaro altar. As the initiates run to save the altar, they suddenly freeze and bow down, detained as if by "the action of an inexplicable force" (OC 1: 276). In the final scene, the Jimaguas emerge from the Iyamba's hut. These gigantic black dolls with cylindrical heads and protruding eyes are connected by a long cord and appear "supernatural and implacable" (OC 1: 277). Though the businessman retreats in terror, the Jimaguas advance "in a heavy dance," position themselves on either side, and, with a "brusque movement," secure the cord that binds them around their victim's neck. At this moment, the skyscraper deflates, the sugar mill emits a slow, lugubrious sound, the other characters freeze like statues, and the initiates raise their arms to the sky (OC 1: 277).

Certain elements of the ballet (the toy horse, the inflatable sky-


scraper, the stylized masks) indicate Carpentier's contact with contemporary avant-garde theater and emphasize the piece's assertive theatricality.[15] The toy horse's abrupt departure on wheels in the opening scene underscores that this is make-believe, and the metatheatrical plays within the ballet focus attention on the cross-cultural factors at work in making believe and representation. Frank Janney, who has done the most detailed analysis of El milagro de Anaquillé in his study of Carpentier's early work, suggests that the piece is a hybrid work containing elements of the colonial farce, the bufo, early 1920s allegorical, proletarian drama, Valle Inclán's esperpentos, and Pirandellian devices.[16] But the work's manifesto quality derives from its concrete relationship to early debates about Afro-Cuban culture and art that helped to shape Cuban vanguardist activity. The piece also allegorizes the antipathy toward U.S. involvement in Cuban affairs shared by Cuban artists and intellectuals in the 1920s.

A commitment to "vernacular art" was affirmed in the 1927 "Declaración del Grupo Minorista" manifesto signed by Carpentier and other founders of the Revista de Avance, and for the journal this included a recognition of Afro-Cuban cultural presences. El milagro de Anaquillé resembles other experimental works produced by the AfroCuban movement, including the early poetic experiments of Nicolás Guillén and other writings by Carpentier himself: a small group of Afro-Cuban poems, the novel ¡Écue-Yamba-Ó!, La rebambaramba (another ballet), and the opera buffa, Manita en el suelo. El milagro de Anaquillé, moreover, resembles the Nicaraguan Chinfonía burguesa not only in its self-conscious vernacular content but also in its expression of vanguardism's hyperbolic tone through its farcical mode. Compared to the panoramic representations of "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga" and Magnavox 1926, El milagro de Anaquillé (like the Chinfonía burguesa ) unfolds in what seems by comparison a rather small corner of the world. But excessive theatricality in characterizations of the businessman and the Jimaguas, the sugarcane central 's enormous, stylized chimneys, the overinflated skyscraper that threatens to pop, the businessman's frenetic activity and abundant, unwieldy baggage, and the work's stylizations of gesture and body movement all contribute to a hyperbolic ambience.

The work's dominant and most evident manifesto quality, however, is the explicit counterposition of two radically different approaches to performative art, a standoff that (at least on the surface) clearly favors one over the other. Because in El milagro de Anaquillé those differ-


ences are construed in cultural terms, Carpentier's work displays what Austin Quigley has posited in The Modern Stage and Other Worlds as a defining characteristic of modern, experimental theater: the counterposition of disparate worlds in which "the notion of a single world with a single set of values is repeatedly brought into conflict with a concern for pluralistic worlds with pluralistic values" (9). In Carpentier's ballet, the primitive and the modern (a predilect, almost cliché, vanguardist juxtaposition) constitute the colliding worlds. But, also in keeping with Quigley's "worlds motif," the collision itself is cast in theatrical terms. Through the plays within the ballet, the cultural encounter between two worlds is played out as an engagement between two modes of performance. The busincssman's persona posits a caricature of modernity, a world of material glut, gimmicky appearances, and stereotypical representations, mechanically reproduced and packaged for marketing, like Rotarian religion and Wrigley's gum. As an artistic director, the businessman stages two performances for filming: the Spanish dance by the sailor and the flapper and their invasion of the Iyamba's initiation ceremony dressed as Tarzan and the Hawaiian dancer. The filming process exposes its own mimetic lies, cursory falsifications shaping modernity's portrayal of its others. The art thus (re)produced, the performance suggests, bears little similarity to anyone's lived experience and merely (literally) projects one culture's prior imaginings of the other.[17]

In contrast and resistance to the businessman's approach to art, the Iyamba stages his own manifestation. As a performance event, the initiation ceremony superficially resembles the businessman's activities. Comparable to the actor in the businessman's film, participants in the ceremony undergo a voluntary transformation process. Each performance requires the creation of a framed space, emerging and set apart from ordinary life.[18] The businessman converts the area around the guajiro 's hut into the scenario for the Spanish dance and bullfight. Similarly, the Iyamba marks out the initiation ceremony space by setting out the bench and instructing the cane carriers to form a circle around it. Each performance is directed from outside the scene; the businessman stands behind his camera directing his actors' movements, and the Iyamba stands outside the circle while manipulating what transpires within its boundaries. In addition, each performance requires special trappings, including costumes and props for the businessman's film and the bench, earthen bowls, shells, and feathers for the initiation ritual. Both performances point to the power relationships informing the interactions between the two cultures. The visual allusion to a foreign-


controlled sugar industry implicates the businessman's film in exploiting the culture he purports to depict. After staking a claim to the Iyamba's hut by plastering it with commercial materials, the businessman also attempts to appropriate the ritual he witnesses and transform it into a more marketable commodity. In the process, he invokes the power of his culture's most imposing reproductive tool, its technological expertise. By staging an initiation ceremony in response to the businessman's intrusive moves, however, the Iyamba brings to bear his own culture's most compelling representational instruments, the ñáñigo witchcraft that conjures up the foreboding Jimaguas.

In the spirit of a manifesto, the work's confrontation between modernity's mechanically reproduced representations and the ritual ceremony of a traditional society unquestionably privileges the latter. The title itself invokes a cultural perspective as well as an audience that would experience the Jimaguas' appearance as a miraculous event. While the businessman's conception of art is depicted as inauthentic and exploitative, the Iyamba's ritual is portrayed as a reverent act, shaped by its engagement of believing initiates. If the filmmaker's work displays, in Walter Benjamin's terms, art's loss of aura in the age of mechanical reproduction, the Iyamba's exhibition presents a cultural practice imbued with an aura of presence and a sacred but intimate part of its participants' actual lives. In juxtaposing the primitive and the modern, a pervasive practice in vanguardist discourse, Carpentier's ballet portrays one culture as richer than the other in creative and critical force. More powerful than the camera's eye, the Iyamba's deliberate gaze detains the businessman in his frenetic bustling, and the performance the Iyamba directs is creatively and critically fruitful. As the title's miracle prophesies, the ñáñigo initiation conjures up the prodigiously monstrous Jimaguas, next to whom Tarzan and the Hawaiian dancer seem like mere simulacra of representations twice removed. It is the Jimaguas, furthermore, who wage the ultimate critique of the businessman's projections by bringing them to a definitive halt. These contrasts play out the Afro-Cuban aesthetic position that African cultural forms constitute a richer resource for Cuban artistic expression than, for example, an emerging North American mass culture. As an aesthetic form, moreover, Carpentier's ballet is itself portrayed as a match for the "disarticulated" black-bottom executed by the sailor and the flapper and as superior to their burlesque Spanish dance.

But the manifesto qualities that structure El milagro de Anaquillé


harbor a more intricate communicative scheme, particularly through the construction of an audience, than the other pieces examined here. The most clearly identifiable entity, is the work's adversarial "they," the Yankee purveyors of modernity's mass culture who provide the clear target for the ballet's attack and for Afro-Cuban culture's contrastive definition of itself as more powerful, vital, and self-present. The Iyamba, moreover, is posed as the work's "we," the embodiment of a sought-after collective cultural subject. Although the ballet unfolds almost entirely without words, through the power of his gaze and his movements, the Iyamba constitutes the work's dynamic "speaker," or, as in the vanguardist manifesto or manifestation, its virtuoso performer. But the work's implicit "you" is the most ambiguous communicative element, a quality that sends the ballet's audience mixed signals and focuses attention on the communicative process itself, particularly the recipient's role.

On one level, each of the two plays within the ballet constructs its own audience. The initiation ceremony is staged above all for a present, believing, and participatory spectator. The businessman's film in the making, in contrast, implies a future audience whose response will be mediated by distance in time and space from the initial performance. In addition, both the businessman and his actors and the Iyamba and his initiates are spectators of one another's performances, and their mixed responses play out the problems of cultural power at issue between them. But the most important onstage audience in El milagro de Anaquillé is the guajiros, not only because their primary function is to witness all that transpires but also because they are explicitly cast as the work's least theatrical and therefore most audiencelike characters. In contrast to the "unreal and monstrous" appearance of the businessman and the Jimaguas, the cane carriers' perfectly synchronized movements, and the sailor's and flapper's exaggerated gestures, the guajiros move "naturally," without benefit of masks or makeup. Their unaffected characterization, as well as the reminder through the toy horse that this is, after all, make-believe, distances the guajiros from the shows they watch and links them most closely to the ballet's implicit real-life spectators. This connection provides keys for discerning the ballet's ambiguously constructed implied audience.

As the onstage spectators of the ballet's two competing performances, the guajiros are cast, on one level, as the dramatized "you" that, as a performance manifesto, El milagro de Anaquillé seeks to ad-


dress. But through the guajiros ' shifting relationships to events that they witness, the ballet encourages comparable shifts of focalization on the part of its implicit, "real-life" spectator. As a result, the precise nature of the work's directly addressed "you" remains ambiguous, revealing once again the tension in vanguardist discourse between the expansive impulse to reach a mass audience and the simultaneous desire to speak with a select few. As I have noted, the ballet's title invokes a spectator position that would perceive the Iyamba's display of power as a miraculous event and therefore constructs an audience that would be drawn through faith and collective identity into the performative practices that the work openly espouses. On this level, El milagro de Anaquillé is addressing the mass audience that a vanguardist manifesto might have invoked as "the Cuban people" and then openly directed to embrace its African heritage and reject the growing cultural influence of the United States characterizing Cuban life in the 1920s. But, in addition to initiating their own performance (the after-work dancing), the guajiros witness two performances, and as these unfold, so does their shifting position. First, they are performers of the initial guitar strumming and zapateo . Then, as they observe the businessman's activities, they become unwitting, intimidated participants, for he incorporates them through film into a circle around the flapper and the sailor's dance. Finally, spectators outside the circle of the Iyamba's ritual, the guajiros are here recast nonetheless as fearful and respectful potential initiates. Through both performance events, they are subject to constant pulls, positioned on the boundaries between participation and estrangement. The guajiros ' reactions to what they see reinforce this shifting position, for they are alternately amused, incredulous, intimidated, and surprised by the businessman's performance, fearful and respectful before the Iyamba's. However, although they might be drawn by cultural proximity to the latter, the guajiros are not, in the final analysis, the participating initiates but, instead, those who watch. The intermediary position of their alternating reactions intimates an awareness of the differences between the two events. By virtue of this awareness, the guajiros are, like the implied spectator of El milagro de Anaquillé who watches them in turn, on the threshold of a critical position. That critical position implies for this performance manifesto not a faithful public of willing initiates but a more reflective audience of artists or critics concerned with the aesthetic and cultural problems this work poses.



Through the rhetoric of the vanguardist manifestos, Latin American writers mapped out specific positions on culture and art. In the process, they constructed imagined audiences embodying the aesthetic practices and cultural positions under attack as well as the idealized allies for building a future new art. Drawing on the manifesto's intrinsic theatrical substance, manifesto-style performance texts dramatized these positions. As performance manifestos, "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga," Magnavox 1926, Chinfonía burguesa, and El milagro de Anaquillé display for their recipients' inspection the artistic practices that they openly support. What the avant-garde manifesto or polemic advocates, these works render concrete, transposing a specific aesthetic orientation into the realm of sensorial experience. With the imminence of a vanguard manifestation, the sense of immediacy the works create emerges from the subject matter of the performance, for as exhibitionist works-in-progress they portray the doing of the art they espouse. Thus Mário de Andrade's oratorio exemplifies Brazilianist poetic polyphony and dramatizes modernismo 's reception. Magnavox 1926 exhibits the synthetic verbal economy and directness ascribed to Diego Rivera's privileged speech; the Chinfonía burguesa parades a "chymphonically" adroit overlay of rhymes, wordplays, and puns; and Carpentier's ballet displays the visual and kinetic power of Afro-Cuban ritual.

The sensory directness of these works is reinforced by an eschewal of conventional dialogue. With the exception of the businessman's "Ok" as he summons the sailor and flapper onto the scene, Carpentier's ballet characters do not speak at all. The communicative purpose of character exchanges in "As enfibraturas" and the Chinfonía is subservient to poetic function and to the works' musically inspired overlaying of voices. And, even though Magnavox 1926 is subtitled a "discurso," the work itself openly favors the least wordy and most visually absorbing speaker, undermining the magnavox speakers who mold their performances from mere words. More performative than representational, language in these performance manifestos is employed for doing rather than for telling. The effect of these works' musical, linguistic, and choreographic ostentation is to posit the vitality and experiential expansiveness of a specific set of artistic strategies. These are contrasted, in turn, with other cultural practices—orderly bourgeois art, mass media communi-


cation, conventional poetry, Hollywood filmmaking—portrayed as somehow less attuned to the fullness of life. This manifesto-style polemical scheme assumes almost Manichaean proportions, for in each work the condition for one kind of art's emergence is the demolition of the other, a nihilistic-futuristic dynamic typical of vanguardist discourse. Thus the Chinfonía 's bourgeois poet-in-residence is whisked off by death; Diego Rivera's powerful speech silences the cacophony of magnavox voices and produces instead an Artaudian orgy of visual display; and the power of ritual in Carpentier's ballet diverts modernity's gaze and deflates its cultural monuments. And although Mário's Juvenilidades Auriverdes succumb in their passionate confrontation with the orderly bourgeois world, their martyrdom is only a temporary sacrifice in their cause of a future new art.

Most important, by construing vanguardist aesthetic activity as performance, these works reveal and underscore a momentous concern: the perceived need for a potential new audience in conceptualizing and creating a new kind of art. On one level, these performance manifestos cast a concrete and directly addressed adversary as a protagonist in the performance who is essential for the work's forging, by contrast, of a specific aesthetic identity and position. These adversaries range from traditional artists and the bourgeoisie that supports them to purveyors of the same mass media and mass culture that vanguardist works exploit through satirical and caricaturesque motifs. More significant, however, is the imagined supportive audience that these performance manifestos directly invoke and sometimes openly court. Exemplifying the simultaneous desire to engage a mass audience in the cause of a future new art or culture and to explore self-critically with other artists or critics the aesthetic process itself, these works fancy their directly addressed audiences in seemingly contradictory ways. To enlist participatory sustenance from such vastly conceived entities as the citizens of São Paulo, the people of Mexico, the grass-roots creators of Nicaragua's popular traditions, or the Cuban guajiros, these creative texts tap performance's seemingly palpable presence to create engaging sensorial events. At the same time, they deploy metaperformative metaphors to construct a more reflective spectator and to promote in that imagined audience self-awareness of its presence at the performance and, by extension, in the activities of culture and art.


previous chapter
1— Constructing an Audience, Concrete and Illusory: Manifestos for Performing and Performance Manifestos
next chapter