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Gardel, an Argentinean law

Celebrating the Month of Tango, and 130 years after the birth of Zorzal, a reflection by the director of the International Carlos Gardel Foundation, Walter Santoro.


 By Walter Santoro 

Identity is the set of traits typical of an individual, or of a collective, that characterizes him in front of others. It is the consciousness that a person has to be himself and distinct from others. The identity of a community is manifested in its history, its traditions, its artistic expressions, its architecture. While there are peoples who are proud of their idiosyncrasy and care about preserving their cultural heritage and exploiting it touristically, there are others who often tend to remove the vestiges of the past. In our history, and accentuated in recent times, we don't understand that we are all those we show, or that from destruction we want to hide. If there is one thing stories have taught us, it is that one is the architect of his destiny, and a slave of the past.

Today modernity dazzles us with colorful mirrors offered to those who want to conquer or master. Conquests or dominion can come from anywhere, but it always has as its axis, uprooting the person or society from its history, its customs, everything that gives it identity; creating them the fantasy of a better future. One way to achieve this is, for example, in so-called restorations or valuing our heritage, which without understanding the importance of legacy to our culture, traditions or history, are modernized, uprooting us and destroying any vestige of identity. They put the axis of our history in the banality of some intranscendent subject.

Customs and traditions passed on from generation to generation are just as important as other types of heritage, and deserve to be cared for in the same way, and form part of the intangible heritage and identity of peoples.

 Heritage, culture and identity 

The most current approaches to cultural heritage emphasize the idea of social construction, by which it is understood that heritage does not exist in nature, but is a human creation induced by ideological cuts, and legitimized, then by the social body. In this context, heritage becomes an essential reference for the cultural identity of the community. In Argentina, the construction of a historical heritage had a first stage during the first decades of the twentieth century, within the framework of the construction of a national identity in the face of the sociocultural impact of immigration.

The natural and cultural heritage - and the tangible and intangible concepts that are present in our society - become heritage, are transmitters of a culture and give identity. If we establish that the definition of heritage is those property owned by a nation, and reflecting the identity of a community, we could draw up a varied list of goods that represent us as a country, but which are sometimes complex to relate. This is the product of a multicultural community-country, formed by the bases of native peoples whose ancestral knowledge is incalculable - although most times they are despised - as well as the contribution of immigration, which to this day continues to mark our identity.

 The importance of Gardel in national culture 

At the dawn of the twentieth century Argentina was known as “El granero del mundo” due to its huge flow of agricultural exports. Culturally speaking, there was no concrete reference about our country, and there were no outstanding artists representing national culture. Although Argentine musicians and singers appeared wandering around Spain and France since the 1920s, none of them managed to transcend far beyond the premises where they performed. Until  Carlos Gardel arrived.  In September 1928 he debuted in France with an immediate and overwhelming success. Paris was at the time the trendy city and there were the most important personalities in the world. Gardel's voice and magnetic charm captivated the audience that sold out tickets every night. He was friends with the most important personalities of culture worldwide, such as Charles Chaplin, Luciene Boyer, the Mistinguett, Maurice Chevalier and so many others. Everyone praised his art, quickly becoming the most famous Argentine in France, and thanks to his charisma and professionalism was definitely disseminated Argentine popular music. And with it our own culture and identity. Gardel became, as journalist Roberto Casinelli once said, into  “our best ambassador in the world” We add, ambassador of being Buenos Aires, an Argentine law. 

In 1933 Gardel traveled to New York for the purpose of continuing to film. Paramount became interested in the artist and finally managed to sign a contract for the making of two films, with an option to four more. The films produced by Gardel himself, through private investors, was a transcendental fact in our history, something that never before had been awarded to an Argentine artist, and becoming the best paid foreign artist.

The four films he came to film in New York had an impressive success in all parts of the US, Europe and Latin America. The fervor was such that in many cases the public forced the film back to hear it sing. Eddie Cantor, Bing Crosby and Al Jolson, the three most important North American singers of that time, had praise words about their singing and performance.

Gardel was the most important artist that had and continues to have Argentina. There's a before and after Gardel. After his tragic death in Medellín everyone wished to be Gardel because he was the one who marked the way forward.

 Carlos Gardel International Foundation 

85 years have passed since Carlos Gardel's physical disappearance and his legacy passed through several generations, supported by the passion of those we know today as Gardelians, a fact that we can say defines Buenos Aires identity.The Carlos Gardel International Foundation , created by the artist's successors, comes as executor to guard his inspiration, and history, in the commitment assumed in his memory.

Since the foundation we believe that knowledge can be contagious, you just have to sow the virus. We are a young society, with an interesting and intense history, that still needs to be studied and, above all, disseminated. The foundation aims to join efforts to make the cultural industry the engine of growth and strengthen our society. By means of the patrimonial safeguarding revaluation of history, and those who from their nationalist interest believed in a future. We propose educational bases, in pursuit of projects for the strengthening of our society.

The  FICA Foundation has more than 5000 objects corresponding to Carlos Gardel, making it the most important collection ever collected: 1583 original photos, of which 430 are dedicated; 110 framed; 1200 pasta discs; 100 test discs; 270 theater programs from 1914 to 1926; 45 personal items (matte, tie, silver and gold harrow, facon, tuxedo, leather wallet, lucky tie, etc.); 3  guitars  (Two from Antigua Casa Núñez and one Breyer), 70 letters by Gardel (60 referring to him); more than 200 documents; all his films on tape; over 1500 digital photos in high resolution of all his films; 2 gift albums of the Paramount; 10 vintage documentaries about Gardel; 12 diaries of the time; 300 records of his songs, in intellectual property, made by José Razzano; 50 journalistic clippings of the accident; copy of the file file of the plane crash in Medellín, and several documents and records of the federal police and the province of Buenos Aires.

Through our rescue program, and safeguarding Tango heritage, we have established a starting point with the conservation of more than 42,000 pieces corresponding to the history of the 2x4. Since the foundation we are proud to be those who give society this important heritage, the basis for the development of any society.

Publication Date: 22/12/2020

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We suggest you continue reading the following notes:

On the day of his birth, 4 things you didn't know about Gardel
85 years ago Gardel sang for the last time in the country



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