„I have lived intensely with each artist and had their company for a while…“ – Thank you, Fanuel, for sharing your experiences as a jury member of the Hans Christian Andersen Award!
Participate as a member of the jury of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award has meant a relevant experience in my professional life. Coincidentally I was at the press conference in Bologna Book Fair when jurors´s names were announced. I felt great joy when I heard my name, especially because being part of this jury implies a recognition of the professional involvement and the critical work that each member has developed over many years. During these months, intense reading of many outstanding books has absorbed a large part of my time, and allowed me to constantly reflect on key questions: how to determine the quality of a good text or an image? Which connections establish these discourses (text and image) with their more authentic readers? How to build the concept of childhood on the books aimed to this public? How to weigh the communication power of a text or an image with its aesthetic quality or complexity? How to balance subjective preferences and more specialized criteria to give an honest and fair judgement?
At first it was difficult to capture the spirit of authors and illustrators because of the overview that is intended to achieve at first glance. But gradually profiles are becoming clearer, it is like being in a forest, penetrate their paths allow us to see the trees, watch more clearly from within, without losing the excitement of traveling through the private world of each artist, of each writer. Reviewing each work as a whole is an interesting exercise because it allows to distinguish the evolution of a creative project, but also its consistency and ability to renew and offer new frontiers within each particular style. Some authors have brough for me a great discovery, in how they defy conventional forms and enrich the childhood discourse to gain height and genius. The hardest part of this experience is to decide on a sample where there are so many authors and illustrators of prestigious and high level, as there are consistent, original, passionate and skillfull works.
For several hours or days I have lived intensely with each artist, with each author, somehow I have scrutinized their privacy, I have had their company for a while, until I have to say goodbye to get on the analysis of another work. The jury experience is challenging, not only because of the amount of books to be read but also by looking at them horizontal, like looking at a vast landscape, to find later the distinctive features, and also because many debates arise which are enriched with others jurors opinions that vividly allow viewing different points of view, building otherness, which is part of the process of corroborate convictions or revise those portions of subjectivity that may limit personal visions.
This really is a warm discussion panel where it is posible to integrate perspectives. However it is impresive to observe that from different cultures and professions many judgments agree to appreciate the beauty, honesty and strength of an outstanding and impressive work. During this process the rigorous work strengthens the effort to achieve fair assessments; while the excitement of reading ensures the imperishable connection with the soul of wonderful and unique books that have traveled to our hands from distant places all over the world. Now time for deliberation is approaching, and my heart beats strong by expectations.