In Macondo, the rain fell continuously already for the sixth week. The streets of the city turned into streams of muddy brown water, carrying the belongings of an until recently flourishing town. In the whirlpools forming on the squares and road junctions danced chairs, branches and corpses of farm animals. Water, reaching the first floor in some parts of the city, washed away from the once bustling interiors the remnants of their former glory. The few inhabitants of Macondo, the great-great-grandchildren of the first settlers, who were associated with those who came here during the banana fever, looked helplessly at how the gradually rising water level turns their city into a great pool. 

The place of the canaries and wild birds, once singing in large aviaries, winding nests in almond crowns, was taken by herons, ducks and cormorants. Their dull-sounding cries were the only sound, apart from the monotonous hum of rain, which could be heard at the time in Macondo. Apart from that, there was sad silence all around.

Aureliano has moved to the first floor of his family home many weeks ago. Although the Buendia family nest was higher than most of the surrounding houses, its ground floor was still reminiscent of Roman underground water reservoirs, rather than the sumptous rooms of one of the most renowned families of Macondo. As there was less and less of unflooded land around it, a large number of lizards, toads and snails found refuge in the house. The latter annexed the walls of all rooms, from the kitchen to the bedrooms. For hours, Aureliano stared at the shiny traces of mucus left on the faded floral wallpapers of Urszula’s old bedroom. They created a shiny arabesque that changed its shape every day. To Aureliano, these journeys on the vertical surfaces of the house seemed all the more strange that nothing had remained for the snails in the entire house to feed on. He wondered how the unstable trails became a lasting souvenir after the desperate and doomed to failure attempt to survive. 

Having transferred to the upper floor a small amount of objects needed for a modest existence, Aureliano spent days trying to write his family history. Unfortunately, Urszula, who knew every, even the smallest detail from the life of every member of this once significant and respected family in the area, was not in this world anymore. Trying to find himself in the thicket of names, surnames, pseudonyms, mutual relationships (both real and implied), Aureliano developed a system of labels. He wrote by hand the name of each of his ancestors on a small piece of paper, and then hung it under the ceiling. This growing structure, spinning in the wind, was supposed to help him understand the geometry of his family tree. No one but Aureliano would be able to find the internal logic of this spider’s web, devoted to memories, recurring from time to time. This strange, openwork form already occupied the entire room and began to slowly annex the adjacent corridor. Who has never met any of the members of the Buendia family would have had no chance to find his way around the tangle of the recurring names: Aurelio and Aureliano. Suspended at the eye level of a man of an average height, the white labels looked like corks thrown on the memories of fishing rods, like flypaper for moths, which kept fragments of memories in the dust of their wings. 

The more Aureliano strained his mind to dig out something out of the recesses of memory, which would allow him to create a logical, internally coherent narrative about the fate of his ancestors, the more lost he felt in his home. As the last of his family he had a strange feeling that as he gained new footholds on the map of memory, the army of his mind gave away the territories of today to hostile hosts of oblivion. Undeterred by this fact, Aureliano decided, as did once his relatives, infected with sickness, to describe everything that surrounded him; hence, on the window there was a card with the annotation “window” and an explanation what this item was used for. The same descriptions were on the lamp, bed, water pitcher, and even the only pair of shoes. To be certain, Aureliano also described parts of his own body, and in the last notebook he began to write a diary, which every day from the record of a given moment passed under the control of the past. When there was no more paper at home, and the family tree spinning in the wind seemed to be solidly rooted, the last of his family realized that he could not read a single one of the words he wrote with his own hand. What just a moment ago was supposed to be a guide to the tangled fates of the family had become a useless, insignificant string of letters. At some point, even their shape detached from the sound to which they once referred. In a desperate attempt to assign sound to the string of words, Aureliano bent his lips and tongue, making noises that did not remind him of human speech in any way whatsoever. Without anyone around him who could verify the accuracy of his phonetic research (his only roommates were now snails, wandering silently and aimlessly around the walls), Aureliano began to look around for another barricade, with which he could defend himself against oblivion. Searching Urszula’s room, he looked under the bed, the function of which did not tell him much any more. There he found dozens of yarn tufts, of which his first great-great-great-grandmother created napkins, pillowcases and garments for the next generations of Buendia. Aureliano, after his ancestors named Aureliano who were manually gifted, felt that in the touch and shapes of the objects surrounding him there was still a spark of hope for the reconstruction of their sense of existence. He grabbed the closest one (how could he have known that it was Urszula’s favorite tin can!) and began to turn it nervously in his hands. Neither the shape of the watering can, nor its temperature nor its rough texture told him anything. He repeated the same test with a chair and a potty. Nothing! Aureliano did not remember anything! Furious at his fate, he decided to hide the entire world from his own eyes, to blur its outlines and colors, as if this ontological reset was to restore his lost memories and knowledge of things. He picked up the watering can and began to slowly wrap it with a gray thread from under Ursula’s bed. The object, and then all the other equipment still in the house, slowly disappeared under the elaborate sheepskin coat. Aureliano was in no hurry, he was meticulous and precise, as his ancestors who used to make elaborate goldfish. He knew that in his case haste would do no good. Memory would come back at the right time. He had for that even a hundred years of solitude. When he wrapped the armchair in yarn, he sat in it comfortably, folded his arms over his chest. He waited…

Izabela Łęska

born in 1989, visual artist, PhD student at the Faculty of Arts at the Pedagogical University of Krakow. A graduate of graphic art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice (diploma with honors in 2013). She also studied at the École Supérieure d’Art de Clermont Metropole (Clermont-Ferrand, France). She participated in numerous projects and exhibitions in Poland and abroad (imMoblized , Paris /  Jeune Création Européenne , Paris /  Usb Shuffle Show , Berlin /  Passion For Freedom, London). A resident of Institut für Alles Mögliche in Berlin and Center Culturel Le Beffroi in Paris. Finalist of the Hestia Artistic Journey 2013. She works with graphics, objects and text. She lives in Krakow.

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