Archive for November, 2010

Claudia Presentado

November 21, 2010

Thinking about Holgas with respect to the last post on Gustavo Lozano, I remembered liking the work of Claudia Presentado, also done with a Holga. I met Claudia while participating in the portfolio reviews at the Festival de la Luz last August. At the time she didn’t have a website but I just googled her and discovered that she’s uploaded a couple of series to her flickr account.

The first series, Conurbano, deals with the suburbs of Buenos Aires [you will have probably noticed that I will link to just about any work about the suburbs of Buenos Aires]. Using a $20 camera makes sense in dangerous areas. I like the whimsical things Presentado finds.

© Claudia Presentado from series 'Conurbano'

© Claudia Presentado from series 'Conurbano'

© Claudia Presentado from series 'Conurbano'

Also viewable is another series, Flores Verdes, which depicts trees and flowers.

© Claudia Presentado from series 'Flores Verdes'

© Claudia Presentado from series 'Flores Verdes'

I really like how the Holga renders leaves and branches. I’m a huge fan, for instance of Joseph Zorn’s work on Flickr. It’s springtime in Buenos Aires and the Jacaranda trees are in full-flower. Looking at Presentado’s foliage photos makes me want to stop writing blog posts and go out and take pictures.

Gustavo Lozano – Campo

November 21, 2010

© Gustavo Lozano, from series 'Campo'

© Gustavo Lozano, from series 'Campo'

© Gustavo Lozano, from series 'Campo'

Poking around the website of German Ruiz, who in addition to taking pictures, also designs websites [because nobody makes a living just taking art photos in Argentina, except for maybe Marcos Lopez], I discovered the site of Gustavo Lozano and his lovely series Campo. I’m not generally a fan of Holga photos and I’ve written before about my ambivalence concerning the 6×6 format. Still, I think the format and tool really works here for the subject matter; the plants, grasses and swamps of the pampas.

German Ruiz – Conurbano & Dogs

November 21, 2010

© German Ruiz, from Conurbano series

© German Ruiz, from Conurbano series

© German Ruiz, from Conurbano series

© German Ruiz, from 6x6 series

© German Ruiz, from 6x6 series

© German Ruiz, from 6x6 series

German Ruiz grew up in the suburbs of Buenos Aires and takes a lot of pictures of dogs. In a recent interview on the fashion site,, he states:

Me gusta la fotografía, me gusta ver fotos

Well said!

Ochava Solstice – Things that go wrong

November 19, 2010

I tell people that when I’m photographing an Ochava Solstice, if everything goes right, I’ll take just a single photo all day. On a couple of occasions I have been able to photograph two buildings because they were oriented slightly differently towards then sun, allowing me some time to travel to the second building. Those are very luck days. Often, things go wrong.

You only get the shadow in bright sun so I don’t go out if it’s cloudy. Several times it’s gotten cloudy in the hour or so it takes me to travel to these spots. These days I check satellite weather images prior to leaving, just to see if some giant storm is about to rage up out of the Pampas [or even some lazy clouds that will totally ruin my shot].

Another factor I have no control over is cars that sometimes park illegally on the corners. For aesthetic reasons I’ve wanted all my ochava shots to be car free. Spending an hour on a bus only to find a car or truck parked on my corner is a bummer. A couple of times  people have parked while I was setting up my shot, like the guy in the photo below.

Ochava Solstice with illegally parked car

I asked him if he could move his car. He said he’d be gone in just five minutes. I tried to explain that I’m a conceptual artist dealing with the sculptural qualities of light and architecture and if he didn’t move his car he’d ruin my shot. He seemed confused and insisted he just be a short while. The five minutes turned out to be more like 15 and, well, you can see the result above.

Security guard obstructing my view of an Ochava Solstice

Surprisingly I don’t get harassed that much while I’m out photographing. People will yell at me occasionally but laziness trumps paranoia and most people just can’t be bothered. This particular corner had one of those little security boxes right there on the intersection. The guard came over explained that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of houses or buildings, which, being a public street is total BS. If I had been photographing my Chalet series, which I shoot hand-held with a medium format camera, I’d have already taken the picture by the time he told me to stop. Unfortunately this project has me using a 4×5 inch camera on a tripod with very precise framing. The guard simply stood in front of the camera, blocking the view. We stood there on the corner for about 15 minutes in our absurd stand-off. People walking by made jokes. I was hoping that something would happen that would cause the guard to leave the frame before the minute of the solstice. It didn’t. I took the photo anyway.

The picture does look kind of cool, though, doesn’t it?

Lately my big problem has been my own inability to accurately forecast the time of the solstice. On three separate occasions in the last couple of weeks I’ve arrived after the magic moment, with no one to blame but myself.

Post-solstice ochava shadow

Fortunately the building isn’t going anywhere. I just have to come back on another sunny day. And hope there’s nobody parked on the corner.

Google Maps in Buenos Aires: Slums & Gated Communities

November 15, 2010

The relentless flatness of the pampas and the utter impossibility of having anything like a vista in Buenos Aires weighs on me. The flatness conceals worlds, especially in the suburbs where access can be tightly controlled. I spend a lot of time looking at satellite views in Google Maps. I often use it as a scouting tool; to check out routes beforehand. The two things that stand out from space, when looking at the built environment are the very rich and the very poor. Both have segregated themselves (the former by choice, the later by necessity) into areas who’s characteristics are clearly visible from space and rarely accessible from the ground.

Here’s a little tour of some features that have caught my eye in my virtual, aerial sojourns around the city:

Some weird, Dubai-style development in the Parana Delta

Constantini's Nordelta

Nordelta, a self-contained gated city that’s still only about half-built. It’s the brain child of Eduardo Constantitni, one of the richest men in Argentina and principal patron of the museum MALBA.

La Cava in San Isidro

The edge of the posh northern suburb of San Isidro ends abruptly in the density of the villa La Cava. Note the constrast between the red/orange clay tennis courts and the dusty brown of the potrero [soccer field] in the villa. [In Argentine Spanish, slums are known as “villas“, ironic given the word’s connotation in English].

Villa 21 in Barracas

Incredibly dense, the largest villa in Buenos Aires proper is located in the southern neighborhood of Barracas. Recently there was a film made inside the neighborhood, La 21 Barracas.


Also very dense is the northern neighborhood of Recoleta, home to the famous cemetery. All the blocks are nearly fully built-out with residential high rises. Notices the open space in the middle of each. Those spaces are the subject of my series Lungs | Pulmones.

Ezeiza planes

The left hand size of the photo shows parked planes which are part of Aerolineas Argentina’s idled fleet. The last time I landed at the airport, this collection had grown considerably. The airline was nationalized last year and is currently losing close to a billion dollars a year. It’s cute how Google Maps tries to obscure the areas over airports.

Ezeiza Prision

Just south of the airport is the main federal prison seen here.

Barrio Don Orione, Claypole

While superficially resembling the Ezeiza prision from the air, the neighborhood shown here is Don Orione, a large, medium density social housing project in Claypole, Zona Sur, built in the early 1980s. I remember seeing this while coming in for a landing at the airport. It looked like so many cheerios flung across the pampas. A friend of mine grew up there and he took me out there one afternoon last year. Here’s a photo that I took there of a Ford Falcon:

Ford Falcon in Barrio Don Orione in Claypole, Pcia. de Buenos Aires

Martín Canals – Mini-animalista

November 11, 2010

Yesterday at the Centro Cultural Recoleta I caught this fun show by Martín Canals showing constructed worlds of animal figurines. The prints were colossal which is no coincidence since Canals is one of the owners of Megaphoto. The show closes tomorrow but I figure I’ll write about it anyway.

Martin Canals at CC Recoleta

I like how with the forced perspective the constructed space of the animals bleeds off into reality. A number of the prints were stereographs, viewable with special, custom-made devices.

Stereo viewing device

Stereo viewing device

The most clever was this machine made of out recycled parts from an E-6 processor that rotated a selection of sterographs on slide flim, projecting different scenes for the viewer.

Stereograph viewing device made from old E-6 Processor

Viewing stereo images, Martin Canals at CC Recoleta

I’m not sure if Canals has a website or not. Googling his name merely turns up information about Canals on the planet Mars (ie. “did you mean Martian Canals?)

Basta de Demoler

November 3, 2010

An excellent video from the blog Basta de Demoler, which shows before and after shots of demolished buildings in Buenos Aires. Depressing!