lunes, 28 de enero de 2008

Inauguration of the Royal Drove Road Photo Exhibition

On Thursday 24 January we held the official opening in Plasencia of our photo/text exhibition concerning my 8 day/255 km walk across Extremadura.
The exhibition, entitled "Caminando la Cañada Real en Extremadura/Walking the Royal Drove Road in Extremadura", contains 62 photos & will be on display in Las Claras Cultural Center for 10 days. The photos & accompanying text, in Spanish & English, document my journey on foot through the following towns & villages in western Spain: Abadía, Zarza de Granadilla, Cáparra, Valdeobispo, Galisteo, Holguera, Cañaveral, Cáceres, Valdesalor, Puebla de Obando, Villar del Rey, Valdebótoa, Gévora, Badajoz & Olivenza.

In the near future the exhibit will be traveling to all of the cultural centers in the towns which I passed through during my trip. Many thanks to Lola Lucio (my wife!) for her endless patience & flawless translations of my text into Spanish & many thanks, as well, to Antonio Aparicio for his graphic design talent which made the exhibition what it is.

domingo, 20 de enero de 2008

Mail Art Call: Visions of the Future

“Visions of the Future” mail art call

Deadline/ fecha limite: 1 July/Julio 2008

Please send us your handmade creations (any medium) containing your "Vision(s) of the Future". All works received will be exhibited in public. Following the exhibition all works received will be buried in a time capsule in our town with instructions to open the capsule in 100 years! Documentation will be sent to all participants. Thanks & see you all in the post!

Por favor, envíanos tu aportación (formato libre) con el tema "visiones del futuro". Todas las aportaciones recibidas se expondran al publico. Después de la exposición las aportaciones se enterraran en una capsula del tiempo en nuestra ciudad con instrucciones de ser abierta dentro de cien años! Se enviara documentación a todos los participantes. Gracias & nos vemos en correos!

(Many thanks to our friend John Mountain in Barcelona for the artwork above as well as the new ACUAREX rubber stamp design below.) -Kris & Lola

Jarramplas festival in Piornal

Yesterday (19 January, 2008) we drove up the Jerte Valley to Piornal, the highest village in our region of Extremadura, to experience the centuries old festival known as "Jarramplas". Jarramplas takes place every year on the 19th & 2oth of January & is one of the most bizarre festivals around. When we arrived around 2 pm the streets of the town were already littered with bits & pieces of "nabos" which are very large turnips that the villagers throw at Jarramplas as he makes his way through the streets banging on a drum. Jarramplas is a figure who, according to local folklore, represents either something from the most profound depths of hell or a goat thief.

The two day affair basically revolves around a dozen or so villagers who take turns putting on an outfit covered with brightly colored strips of paper & a large painted wooden mask. They go out into the street, one at a time, & start beating on a large animal skin drum to announce the presence of Jarramplas. Here comes the fun part: the people of the village all come running, armed with enormous turnips which they throw with all of their strength at the poor guy in the costume, pummeling him mercilessly. It was quite a stressful day, running through the streets surrounded by hundreds of fairly drunken villagers, all eager to hit something or somebody with rock-hard turnips. I saw many young guys with black eyes, most likely caused by stray turnips.

There was a rather hectic moment at 4 pm when Jarramplas, after making his way through half the streets of the village, arrived at the church. I got swept up in the crowd & was shoved inside the main entrance. A moment later the doors were slammed shut & Jarramplas, just outside the door, was cornered & people mercilessly pounded him with turnips. The sound of the wooden church doors, as hundreds of turnips hit them, was deafening from inside the church. A few moments later the doors were opened & Jarramplas entered the church surrounded by villagers applauding him for withstanding the force of all those turnips. Then the people began singing. As traditional songs filled the church, people began carrying a wooden sculpture of San Sebastian through the aisles.

Shortly after the singing ended, the people rather excitedly filed out of the church & swarmed the square outside, again armed with more turnips (14,000 kilos of turnips were imported to Piornal for the festival, by the way). As everybody waited for Jarramplas to exit, so the madness could commence once again, a small tractor arrived with another load of turnips. The driver dumped a small mountain of them next to the fountain as people scrambled to arm themselves with the biggest turnips they could find. Jarramplas finally exited, banging on his drum, & the air was once again filled with flying turnips. People began running in all directions & I lost sight of Lola for a few minutes. (I found her crouched behind a phone booth which was covered in strips of plywood to keep the glass doors from being smashed by turnips).

We wandered off for a bit to get a break from the constant ducking & dodging & stress of wondering when, not if, we were going to get clobbered by a melon-sized turnip. As the sun began to disappear over the horizon, we took a stroll through the local Jarramplas museum (which is equipped with a bar downstairs that, at that moment, was full of drunken, singing villagers). Afterwards we got in the car, which survived the entire day without any turnip damage. Then we braved the dark, treacherous, winding mountain roads back down to the valley floor & then home.


miércoles, 16 de enero de 2008

Caminando la Cañada Real en Extremadura

El próximo día 24 de Enero de 2008 inauguraremos la Exposición "Caminando la Cañada Real en Extremadura", tendrá lugar en el Salón Hebraico del Centro Cultural Las Claras en Plasencia a las 20.00h. La exposición permanecerá expuesta desde el 21 al 31 de Enero.

Esta exposición consta de 62 fotografías y texto bilingüe (español e inglés) tomadas en el transcurso de un viaje a pie desde Abadía hasta Olivenza.

Este proyecto ha sido realizado desde ACUAREX, por Kristoffer Mininger, Lola Lucio y Antonio Aparicio, gracias a la Concejalía de Educación y Cultura del Ayuntamiento de Plasencia y a la Consejería de Cultura y Turismo.

domingo, 13 de enero de 2008


Hello! & welcome to the very first post on the ACUAREX (Association for Culture & Art in Extremadura) blogspot. We´ve had this blog since September 2007. It´s 2008 already & we still haven´t posted anything here. It appears that I (Kris from the USA) will be writing here in English. My partner (Lola from Extremadura, SPAIN) will be writing here in Spanish. (Small tangent, or "the answer to a frequently asked question": Lola & I met in Poland, fell in love working together on an organic farm in Ireland and for the past 5 years have been living in western Spain.)

(The photo above, by the way, is of Lola´s aunt, Pilar. It was taken by me & was used in our book entitled Faces of Plasencia/Caras de Plasencia.)

I suppose the first thing I should mention here is the idea behind ACUAREX (which in Spanish stands for "la Asociación para la CUltura y el ARte en EXtremadura). Back in 2004 we sat down with a handful of friends & decided to put together this little organization. We are always working on little projects & ideas. The problem is finding the money to pay for all of these half-baked schemes (so to speak). Now, with the organization in place, we propose our ideas to the local council & to the Consejería of culture & tourism in Mérida every year. And, much to our surprise, they fund some of the projects!

Projects we´ve successfully completed to date include:

-Publishing a book entitled Faces of Plasencia/ Caras de Plasencia

-2 mail art projects/exhibitions: Borders/Fronteras & The Measure of.../El tamaño de...

-A photo exhibition entitled Walking the Royal Drove Road in Extremadura/Caminando La Cañada Real en Extremadura

-A mail art & fanzine workshop & exhibition during the Encuentros del Arte festival in Santos de Maimona (Extremadura) in autumn 2006.

-A night of free exchange or "bartering" of 2ndhand objects/Una noche de trueque

...and there are tons of ideas & projects in the works so stay tuned. -Kris