‘The Stamps that never travelled and the birds that never flew’, Benveniste, Madrid –2011
Maybe not everyone is aware that a full colour print is actually the output of four colors combination: The cyan, the magenta, the yellow and the black. It is only through this magic combination that we can perceive what we understand as “the color”.
On a different day, in a very different place, on a street that doesn’t look like any of these ones around here and on a huge wall which I’m sure that none of you would like to see, I saw a big printed poster. The blue was the only and last remaining color that had managed to survive the light from the unbearably bright and persistent tropical sun. All the poster’s other colors but the blue had vanished, had gone to a place that to the day I can’t tell you where is, but gone they were. On another day of that same year a friend of mine gave me as a present the most extraordinary stamp collection. It contained all the stamps published by the revolutionary Cuban government from 1959 up to 1970. My friend and I shared a strange fascination with philately – for a long while we had exchanged stamps the same way that travelers exchange their stories about remote and unknown places. For us, stamps were more than just beautiful prints. They were tiny and imaginary vehicles that would take us to places where, with complete certainty, we knew we could never visit.
This Cuban stamps book has been always a strange item in my collection, I never knew exactly what to do with it; opening it, browsing through its images always separated me from the world. This book was like the vehicle that would take me to places that I already knew; places where I didn’t wanted to return to either. The day I could finally open and browse in it with sheer enjoyment I discovered a group of commemorative stamps from the last Christmas of the early Cuban revolutionary days. These “rebel-Christmas” stamps were a full color printed collection of birds which, just like my friend and myself, had never traveled either. That day I understood that the missing colors of the street poster had flown away together with all the Christmas days in the shape of invisible birds, and that same day I also understood why the letters from my grandmother America arrived at our home, always opened and scrunched as if the whole country had read them before I had.
The desire of sending something away is more powerful than the actual matter of sending it, the impossibility of traveling pushes us to ‘imagine’, the insistence of the blue to remain on that giant wall is actually the reason why I can tell that the black, the magenta and the yellow where missing. Sometimes only one color is enough to understand an image, but definitely it’s not enough to believe in it.