Archive for December, 2011

Bruno Dubner at MAMBA (Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires)

December 31, 2011

A last post for 2011 and maybe a last post from Argentina for awhile as I’m now traveling in Chile and soon to head to Peru again. On my penultimate day in Buenos Aires I visted a small show of photographs by Bruno Dubner at the MAMBA [great name]. The work is called Ajeno, which means foreign, distinct or alien. The show consists of a long line of about 30 photographs of sidewalk views, looking down and to the side, usually depicting different sorts of entry ways in the more urbanized neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.

Ajeno - Bruno Dubner

Bruno Dubner - Ajeno

There’s a brochure with a long, fancy text that’s beyond my skills in Spanish and, probably, my English too, if it were translated. Beyond the conceptual conceit of the work, I appreciate the photos for evoking the urban skin of Buenos Aires. The photos themselves are simple and unpretentious, shot with a 35mm camera and printed small but lusciously [C-prints!]. There’s an overall chromatic harmony within the work and an obsessive attention to certain details, like the near total exclusion of litter, graffiti, or any sort of text–something that becomes clear when viewing the full series. Unfortunately the work isn’t on Dubner’s site just yet [although do check it out as he's got some other interesting work].

The installation of the show is also nicely done, echoing the composition of the photographs themselves.

Bruno Dubner at MAMBA

I totally stole all these photos from a post on the website Juanele, about this show. I’d go over and read that as well because the writer, Gabriela Schevach, delves more into the conceptual elements of the work and knows her stuff!

2011 in Review

December 27, 2011

I spent a lot of 2011 traveling, being a bit of a vagabond in different places.

During January, February and half of March I was in Colombia. I discovered fantastic artists and took a ton of pictures, none of which have been properly scanned. The negatives have been sitting with a friend in New York since late March. Eventually, I’ll get to them.

3 guys in Bosa, Bogotá, February 2011

After Colombia, I went to the Peruvian Amazonian city of Iquitos. I spent just over a month there photographing people and places. I’m pretty happy with the work I did so far there and, in fact, I’m planning on going back there in just a few weeks. I’ve been sitting on the photos because I’m not sure what direction the work will ultimately take. Here’s a few pictures that I’ve uploaded to flickr so far:

Iquitos, Peru

Iquitos, Peru

Diego in Iquitos, Peru

I returned to Buenos Aires in late May, mostly to finish my Ochava Solstice project. I was a lot more methodical this year (see post), and set myself a goal of 50 street corners for the whole series.

Preparing to photograph a corner for my Ochava Solstice project

In the end I think I got about 60-something corners, which I then edited down to 49. I even published a little dummy book on blurb, which is really cool to have and to hold.

Ochava Solstice dummy book

Meanwhile I continued to work on another series, Riverbank | Barranca, which I started in 2010 and published on my site this year. It was just featured on the blog, New Landscape Photography.

Riverbank | Barranca

I also continued to add slowly to my collection of Chalets and Contrafrente views.

Since last year I’ve been thinking about pursuing an MFA. While the classes and workshops I have been doing in Argentina have been great, I’ve been feeling that I’d be well-served by spending a couple of years of intense study in North America. To that end, I was just on a six week road trip in the US visiting schools. I covered 8000 miles in just under a month, driving from LA to Boston and back again. I’d like to say it was epic but traveling in the US is kinda easy. There were days when I woke up at dawn and drove for 12 or 13 hours straight, subsisting on junk food, podcasts and 5-hour energy drinks. Those days were my favorites.

West Texas

I’m super-excited about 2012; the travels that I have coming up and the mystery about where I will end-up come August.

Nuna Mangiante

December 18, 2011

© Nuna Mangiante

Nuna Mangiante is an artist who primarily works with graphite. Her works that I’ve seen in person are large, abstract drawings where areas of shape are indicated by density and direction of the stroke of her hand. They remind me a bit of Ad Reinhardt’s abstract paintings and, like Reinhardt’s, work, are utterly impossible to appreciate except in the first person.

I suppose it’s fitting then, that I can’t find any examples of these works on Mangiante’s site or anywhere on the web. Her website does, however, have some interesting examples of her work. The series El Corral deLito shows bank facades in the aftermath of the 2001 economic crisis. The title is a play on the local term for frozen accounts, which is what the government did to depositors. For months afterward, angry protesters descended on the banks in downtown, demanding their money back. The banks put up metal barriers, which are precisely the parts that Mangiante has drawn over, leaving only the abstract pattern of her work and the original details of the buildings’ architecture.

© Nuna Mangiante

© Nuna Mangiante

© Nuna Mangiante

Her website also has a selection of installation works. If they weren’t already designated as installations, I could easily believe, by looking at the images online, that they were more drawn-over photographs, which I think is cool

© Nuna Mangiante

Ochava Solstice – The Book

December 16, 2011

I made a little prototype of a book on Blurb of my Ochava Solstice project. It’s cool to put into physical form some of the ideas I’ve been having about the work. It makes a nice gift too.  After all, nobody doesn’t love a book.

The book itself is really basic. I chose the black & white, trade paper back option, which is the cheapest and roughest option available. The only luxury I splurged for was paying extra to remove Blurb’s logo.

Cover

The cover is all 49 images imposed on one another, Idris Kahn-style, but then inverted. The title’s typeface is Gil Sans, in homage to Richard Long. I’m not a designer so this probably won’t survive further iterations.

Ochava Solstice #1

The pages just show each corner from the series, in the same order as on my website, ordered by shadow height.

Ochava Solstice #9

Ochava Solstice #9, detail

On the page facing each image are two numbers; the time the photo was taken and a number in brackets. The bracketed number is meant to be a little cryptic. I’ve been thinking of this book as kind of like an archeological artifact with clues needing to be decoded.

Ochava Solstice #49

Careful observers will have noted that the first and last buildings in the series are the same but photographed on different dates.

Index

The final page is an index of the building locations. The street names evoke Buenos Aires but only if you know the city already, since most of these buildings are in far-out neighborhoods [e.g. Romulo Naon, Hernandarias, Fraga, Aranguren, etc.]. Otherwise, the location of this body of work is, I think/hope, a bit mysterious.

I also didn’t include my name anywhere in the book. I wanted to add a bit of mystery as to what exactly this object is, again thinking of it as something archeological. I also imagine it as a sacred text of a secret society of sun worshiping apartment brokers—or something like that.

Since this is just a prototype, I haven’t made it public on Blurb or anything but if you want a copy, let me know and I’ll add you to my list the next time I order a batch.

Also my thanks to my friend Zeke, who kindly lent his services as hand-model for this shoot.

Riverbank | Barranca

December 8, 2011

These are captions for Riverbank | Barranca. The photos in the series are ordered geographically, from north to south, beginning at the northern city limits of Buenos Aires [Capital Federal] and ending in Parque Lezama in the southern part of the city.

Avenida General Paz

Police randomly stop cars as they cross the city limits. The city and suburbs of Buenos Aires are two different administrative entities, with different police forces. Unlike cities in North America, South American cities tend to have poverty and crime concentrated on the periphery of the city. The checkpoints are a mostly theatrical effort to calm the the city’s wealthier residents.

Monobloc on Calle Grecia

A large apartment complex built in the 1970s. Such buildings are often referred to as ‘monoblocs.’

Botanical Garden

French-born landscape designer Carlos Thays designed Buenos Aires’ botanical gardens as well as many other parks during the boom years of the late 19th century. Today the garden is home to a large feral cat population.

National Library

Argentina’s national library is constructed on the grounds of a former 19th century mansion that was used as the residence of Juan Perón while he was president and which was then demolished following his ouster by the military in 1955. Designed in 1961 in a brutalist style by one of the country’s most prominent architects, the library wasn’t completed until 1992, due to construction delays exacerbated by changes in government and economic crisis.

Red Balloons

Production assistants attach red balloons to a tree for the filming of a commercial.

Student's Day

September 21st, the first day of spring in the southern hemisphere, is Student’s Day. Adolescents from across the metropolitan region flock to the city’s parks.

Arts & Crafts fair in Recoleta

On weekends the walkways of Plaza Francia in Recoleta are taken over by arts & crafts vendors. While a long standing tradition, the size of the fair increased greatly following the economic crisis of 2001. Many of the vendors use the sales to supplement income from their day jobs.

Trapito

Organized syndicates monetize public parking spaces in busy areas by setting up protection rackets. The lowest members of these syndicates work the street, charging drivers a fee for looking after their cars. Such men are know as “trapitos” or “little rags” for the rags they wave in their hands to attract the attention of drivers to an open spot.

Shell station below Autopista Arturo Illia

Argentina hosted the World Cup in 1978. It was accompanied by a massive public works effort by the then-military government that saw the construction of elevated highways across the city. Such works were often funded with loans from the World Bank as well as New York financial institutions flush with petro-dollars.

Plaza San Martin

Plaza San Martin is one of several parks that uses the topography of the riverbank to create a grassy knoll. The gentle slope makes a lovely spot for an afternoon nap between shifts.

War Monument

Plaza San Martin is also the site of a monument honoring Argentine soldiers killed in the 1982 conflict over the Falkland [Malvinas] Islands. The war killed about 650 Argentine soldiers and about 250 British. Argentina was unsuccessful in asserting its territorial claim over the islands.

The Kavanagh Building

Edificio Kavanagh, seen in a fragment on the right, is the finest art deco skyscraper in Buenos Aires and, perhaps, the world.

IBM Tower

Sitting at the foot of Marcelo T. de Alvear and Leandro Alem, the IBM Tower houses the local operations of said company. IBM was embroiled in a bribery scandal involving government contracts in the 1990s during the presidency of Carlos Menem.

Edificio Alas

Dating from the 1950s, the Alas building, seen in the background, contains an anti-nuclear bunker built to the specifications of the then president, Juan Domingo Perón.

Jousten Hotel, Avenida Corrientes

Though less important than soy bean exports, tourism has become one of Argentina’s principal sources of foreign currency.

Casa Rosada

The seat of government, the Casa Rosada is said to have originally taken its pink color from cow’s blood mixed in with the paint.

Economy Ministry

In 1955, Argentina’s air force dropped bombs on the Plaza de Mayo, the country’s principal square and home to the seat of government, in an effort to unseat the elected president, Juan Perón. About 300 people were killed and the façade of the Economy ministry still bears the scars from the bombardment.

Paseo Colon & Alsina

The graffiti which reads “Nestor Vive” refers to the deceased ex-president, Nestor Kirchner, who was president from 2003 to 2007, a time in which Argentina was recovering from a severe economic crisis in 2001. His wife, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, is the current president, having been reelected in 2011 to a second term.

The other graffiti, “Macri = Facho” refers to Mauricio Macri, who is the mayor of Buenos Aires and a member of the opposition. ‘Facho’ is a local slang word meaning ‘fascist.’

Paseo Colon, pintada política

Public buildings and walls are often covered in white wash upon which are written names or slogans of political candidates and parties. Known as pintada política, it is a street-based, graphical tradition in Argentina, with each party and faction having its own, unique style.

Club Atlético

The military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983 murdered about 30,000 of its own citizens. Various buildings were used as interrogation and torture centers prior to shooting the victims or tossing them out of airplanes. This area, at the intersection of Avenida San Juan and Paseo Colón, was one such center. It was known as Club Atlético although it was subsequently demolished to make way for one of the aforementioned elevated highways.

McDonald's

There are nearly 200 McDonald’s locations in Argentina, including this one just south of Parque Lezama in the neighborhood of Barracas.

Parque Lezama

Located in the southern part of the city, Parque Lezama is believed to be the site of the original founding of the city in 1536. The first settlement, however, was abandoned after 5 years due to attacks from the indigenous population.

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