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Ediciones Vigía

In 1985 Ediciones Vigia emerged out of the need of a group of artists in Matanzas to see their work, which they valued as literature, in print. They had no preconceived notions of what their books would look like, and had only the scarcest of resources:a mimeograph machine that was loaned to them as well as a borrowed typewriter. These remain the only two "machines" used in the production of the Ediciones Vigia books. "More than anything, we use our hands and our imagination," founder Alfredo Zaldivar said in a 1995 interview.

In the more than 20 years since Vigia's founding, it has published the most important Cuban writers -- Pablo Armando Fernandez, Cintio Vitier, Eliseo Diego, Nancy Morejon, Fina Garcia Marruz, and Roberto Fernandez Retamar, to name only a few -- as well as important contemporary authors worldwide. Vigia's most recent work was published August 18 in homage to Federico Garcia Lorca (Poeta en Nueva York) on the 70th anniversary of his murder. (That book will arrive shortly from Havana!). Most of the books are designed by Rolando Estevez, Vigia's chief designer, who also does the drawings for the books he designs, but dozens of other artists also contribute designs and illustrations.

Using only a typewriter, the ancient mimeo machine and ingenious craftsmanship, the Vigia publishing collective creates some of the world's most beautiful books. Shortages of paper and other basic goods force the 14-member collective to use scrap paper, leaves, yarn and other found supplies. As a result, their limited edition, hand-decorated books for adults and children have a delicate authenticity that cannot be achieved with high tech printing processes. The books are wonders to behold and each page brings a surprise: a delicately rendered drawing, a pull-out "parchment" scroll with yarn to hang on a wall, paper dolls and other cutouts to enhance the work and enchant both children and grown-ups. Bits of driftwood and mesh cloth can surround cover titles, carefully constructed and cut-out bookmarks are buried in many of the books.

With the collapse of much of the regular publishing industry in the early 90s (since recovered), Vigia became even more important as a publishing source for writers, not only of Matanzas. We became aware of Vigia only when it started publishing well-known authors in the early 90s, because it was one of the few publishing houses still working on a regular basis. Since then the Center for Cuban Studies has tried to collect as many of these gorgeous books as possible. Each handcrafted book is published in at most editions of 200, so most of the books on display are not for sale. However, we do have approximately 25-30 titles to sell. If you manage to get any one of these books, you will treasure it forever!

Source: Proyecto Parabola

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