From Optic Nerve, a novel that was published last month by Catapult. Gainza has worked as a correspondent for the New York Times in Argentina. Translated from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead.
One day, you develop a fear of flying. Apropos of nothing. It’s your age, must be. Before you turned twenty-five, flying seemed the most natural way to go from one place to another. But now the mere thought sends you into a panic, and it’s beyond you how you’re going to board the plane you’re supposed to be taking to Geneva. An art convention awaits you in the cathedral of money: a foundation has invited the curator of the Venice Biennale, the director of New York’s PS1, a critic from Artforum, along with a few others. Your inclusion in the jury is an error, you’re sure. But when they told you about the honorarium, it didn’t seem very clever to point this out, considering the state of your bank account at the time. (The state of your bank account always.) Plus the job could hardly have been easier: just suggest an artist, someone young and Latin American whose work would benefit from a push. Because you don’t travel, you decided to pick someone from Argentina. You did feel guilty and took a ferry over the border to Montevideo to have a scout around there. Still, no more plain sailing for you now, no getting out of this one: fly to Switzerland, join the rest of the jury, help pick a winner from the nominees. Someone is going to be awarded a grant that will likely change the course of their entire career.