A literacy project developed with a community in Honduras with an 80% illiteracy rate centered around a story-eating bandit who terrorizes little kids until they write and offer him stories they've written
Genesis: The Origin of El Bibliobandido
Initiated in 2010 by Marisa Jahn (Studio REV-) in collaboration with the community of El Pital, a village in Northern Honduras where illiteracy rates average 80%, El Bibliobandido (or 'story thief') in an ongoing living legend built around a masked bandit who, ravenous for stories, terrorizes little kids until they offer him stories they've written. Inducing terror, laughter, and tears in los niños (and more than a few adults), El Bibliobandido – and his insatiable cravings – continue to provoke bookmaking and storytelling sprees across the region, where the third week of every month is Bibliobandido Week. For this "monthly harvest," the library committee collaborates with one of 19 participating villages to enact a new 'episode,' reinventing and transmitting the tale as they go. Today, many of the 500 kids living in the region grow up 'believing in' El Bibliobandido, a character whose fame rivals Santa Claus. El Bibliobandido has gone on to terrorize libraries, museums, and film festivals abroad, casting a wide net of believers and fellow book-fiends.
Adaptations & Mutations
The Studio Museum in Harlem
Caribbean: Crossroads of the World (June 14 - October 21, 2012)
In the "Bandits" section of this groundbreaking, multi-museum exhibition, lead artist Marisa Jahn presented a trove of El Bibliobandido artifacts, along with a short video documenting the intrigue and origins of the legend of El Bibliobandido.
Peréz Art Museum Miami
Caribbean: Crossroads of the World (April 18 - August 17, 2014)
Terror struck the Pérez Art Museum Miami on July 12, 2014, when El Bibliobandido rode right to the museum's front door to deliver his signature threat – "I am starving for stories, those who do not feed me, beware!" In response, over 600 brave children of Miami assembled at PAMM that day with Studio REV- for a special bookmaking bonanza, creating hundreds of books to satiate and appease this villain. Those who were there recall how the clap of El Bibliobandido's swift steed's hooves and the force of his command whipped up a frenzy in these kids — or supplicants — to produce more and more stories of the juiciest kind. Special thanks are due to a keen-eyed cadre of kids from Overtown Youth Center, who participated in a special bookmaking workshop led by Studio REV- at PAMM. Anticipating El Bibliobandido's arrival, these youth had taken steps to ready the denizens of Miami, where literacy rates are among the lowest nationwide, with 52% of the population lacking basic prose literacy skills.
Workshop & Bookmaking Bonanza (July 2014)
At Queens Museum/Immigrant Movement International
Taller Bibliobandido: Bilingual Bookmaking Workshop (Summer 2013, Spring 2014)
Studio REV-'s Taller Bibliobandido is an intergenerational bilingual book-making and storytelling workshop at the Queens Museum/Immigrant Movement International, addressing one of the chief challenges identified by a community of mothers and children in Corona, Queens: the loss of cultural heritage and bilingual literacy.
Miscellaneous BB Tastemaking and Troublemaking
→ Prowling the pages of Artforum
→ BB Bites the Big Apple! Studio REV-'s Youth Media Arts Workshop (Summer 2013
→ ZERO1 curator Cecilia Galiena notes, "El Bibliobandido shake[s] the air and create possibilities for something more durable to happen."
CLIENT/COMMISSION : Un Mundo (Honduras), Peréz Art Museum Miami, Queens Museum, Queens Museum, San Francisco Public Library, Studio Museum of Harlem
DATE : 2010 and ongoing
TAGS :Workshop, Design/Communications
Press : ArtForum (2013)