Buenos Aires ~ Argentina
Eloísa Cartonera (established in 2003, Buenos Aires) is a graphic arts and publishing co-operative of handmade books made of recycled materials. The materials are collected by cartoneros, or ‘cardboard people’, unemployed who tried to survive after Argentina’s political and economic collapse in 2001. Drawn to Eloísa’s social solidarity, both established and emerging Latin American writers, donate short stories, novels, and other forms of literature. The collective, small-scale method produces books that are much cheaper than conventional paperbacks. It provides income and cultural benefit to many at all levels of Argentinean society: readers, rubbish collectors, authors and artists. Eloísa Cartonera transformed ‘the book’ from an unattainable object into a widely accessible source of pleasure, knowledge and self development. The relevance and impact of the cartonera model even transcends borders. More than 60 independent cartonera publishers are currently operating in countries across Latin America and one has started in Mozambique. Also, now that the current economic crisis has hit Argentina again, their message is even more urgent.