An unexpected work for a narrator of unexpected stories. For Argentine writer Julio Cortázar to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth


The project

The story is a series of portraits, taken in Paris, of friends and readers of Cortázar.


The work is visual, playful and participative.


Each of the 70 participants had to:


a. Choose a fragment of the novel Hopscotch that mentions a place in Paris

b. Have their portrait taken in the chosen site Explain why they chose it

c. The project seeks to create a hopscotch of images that weaves together the personal stories of participants with Cortázar and Paris.




Why Cortázar now?


Because 2014 is the 100th anniversary of his birth and 30th of his death. I wanted to join the wave of celebrations and carry out a project to discover his readers and the city where he wrote most of his books.


But how could I do an unexpected work about a narrator of unexpected stories? How could I avoid repeating the eternal system of articles, interviews, chronologies, walking through the same old angles?


I tried an answer by basing my narration on three central concepts: visual, playful and participative.


1. The photo essay had to be a dialogue between texts and images.

2. It had to be playful just like a hoptscotch.

3. And participative like Hoptscotch a book that required the participation and complicity of the reader.  It could be read from beginning to end or following a predetermined order of chapters to discover a second story.


The set guidelines were straightforward: the participant had to choose a passage of the book Hopscotch that mentions a place in Paris, and explain his/her preference for this passage and place.


The photos were taking in black and white as wink to the passage of time, to the half a century that passed since the publication of Hopscotch.


Why “unexpected”?


I aspire to deliver participants and readers an unexpected experience.


There is not one prearranged narrative sequence but many. They depend on the participants’ decisions and in the readers’ choices.


The story got written as participants chose their passages and places.


The audience will find several possible readings when “playing” with the images.



The photo essay can be experienced in three formats


1. Its online version, here


2. It also “fits” into a book-object format. Seven numbered envelopes and one stone are kept inside a book shaped cardboard box. The envelopes represent the hopscotch’s squares. Each conceals a photo.  The reader has to display them like a hopscotch and then throw the stone to play and unveil the stories hidden within each envelope.


3. The third format is the exhibition. Under each photo hangs a booklet with the participants’ name. The visitor opens it to discover the chosen place, fragment and the participant’s story.





Info on the photo essay


Dates: Photos were taken between September 2013 and August 2014.


Participants: 70 people participated. Among those portrayed are close friends of Cortázar, such as Julio Silva, his best friend, who chose to be photographed by the writer’s grave, in Montparnasse cemetery, decorated with a sculpture done by Silva and chosen by Cortázar just before his death.


They also participated: painter Antonio Seguí, writers Martín Kohan, Alberto Manguel, Pablo De Santis, Ana María Shua, Tununa Mercado, el cartoonist Rep, among others.


Exhibitions: The photo essay has been exhibited in two libraries in Paris, in the Maison de la Culture de Neuilly-Sur-Seine, in the Audiovisual Centre of Rosario (Argentina), in Café el Sur.


In the next few months it will be also be exposed in Paris City Hall, of 10eme  arrondissement (September 15th to October 4th) and in the Argentine Student Residency in Paris (November 17th to 28th).


Press: The work has been feature in a documentary on Cortázar broadcasted in French national radio France Culture.



Why fund it?

Because two big events are coming up:


a. Two exhibitions (everything is ready except the photo printing)

b. The publication of the an unexpected photobook


I will personally engage to cover 50% of the total cost. I am asking you to help me out with the remaining 50% = 2500 €





Two venues in Paris have awarded the project for exhibition. The Paris City Hall of the 10th arrondissement, that specializes in photography and where Cortázar lived until his death.

And the Maison Argentine, where Cortázar lived during his first years in Paris


Both places will cover all related costs for the exhibitions EXCEPT the frames and prints (what they cover is insurance, lighting, set-up, communication materials, invitations, reception, music band for the vernissage, etc.).


The cost of a high quality print is expensive:


Paper : Fine Art Baryté Hahnemühle 315g Size : 28 x 42 cm Framining: 28 x 42 cm Aluminum 1mm, Support system Cost per photo: 38 € including taxes


There are 70 photos. Total: 2660 €






This is not your ordinary photo book. Following the title of the project it is an Unexpected Photobook, a publication that converts the photos into objects with which the reader has to interact to see the images.


It consists of :


- Seven numbered envelopes and one stone are inside a book shaped cardboard box.

- The envelopes represent the hopscotch’s squares.

- Each envelope conceals a photo.  

- The reader has to display them like a hopscotch and then throw the stone to play and unveil the stories hidden within each envelope.


I am making 96 Unexpected Photobook or Unexpected Boxes.


The box, made in Italy, cost: 6 € Envelopes: 3 € High quality photo printing (postcard-size): 15 € Other: 2€ Total: 26€ per box (does not include transport if the book needs to be mailed)


Total for 96 boxes: 2496 €


Total for exhibitions and photobook: 5156 €


I will personally engage to cover 50% of the total cost. I am asking you to help me out with the remaining 50%. So 2500 €













Hugo Passarello Luna. Photographer and multimedia journalist. Freelance for media in Latin America, USA and France. Eiffel Scholar (France), Global Citizenship Award (Canada), Daniel Pearl Prize (Wall Street Journal Europe). I use images and text to narrate engaging stories. Some are mine, some are of my clients. Some are even true. Clients who... See more

Newest comments

Viva el arte, vivan las ideas, los proyectos y el empuje constante de los artistas! :)
Bravo pour ces magnifiques photos Hugo. Hâte de voir les autres à ton prochain vernissage :)
Congratulations on such wonderful work, Hugo! You are truly talented and these photographs and the theme behind them are evidence of that. Felicidades, de verdad.