Archive for August, 2011

Natalia Carozzo

August 30, 2011

I met Natalia Carozzo on the street in San Telmo. She was selling her pictures at the Sunday antiques fair. For those who don’t know, the San Telmo fair is one of Buenos Aires’ biggest tourist attractions. It sprawls over 10 blocks and attracts a wide range of sellers of all kinds of antiques and hand-made crafts. There’s usually a small selection of vendors selling photography, although, this being a fair primarily geared towards tourists, the photos usually depict sultry tango dancers embracing on dark, wet, cobble-stoned streets. When I saw Natalia’s photos, I did a double-take and spent a good while looking.

© Natalia Carozzo

I was really impressed with Carozzo’s street portraits; the ones I saw at the fair and, later, on her site. She has a certain fearlessness, or at least, a real determination to go out into the world here in Argentina and photograph what’s in front of her. Despite this sounding easy, there’s very few people here today actually doing this.

© Natalia Carozzo

© Natalia Carozzo

She was there at the fair, clearing out her studio, selling work prints and clearing out her studio. It wasn’t a regular gig. I ended up buying a photo, a small but beautiful C-print measuring 20x20cm. I have posted on my fridge at home.

Natalia Carozzo photograph on my fridge

Here’s the same image from her website. It was selected last year for the Salon Nacional, an important contest in Argentina.

© Natalia Carozzo

Also see Carozzo’s flickr stream.

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Ignacio Coló – Chacarita

August 23, 2011

I posted about Nacho Coló last year about his work La Seguridad. At the time he only had a flickr stream. I recently found out he launched a website. I figured this would be a good excuse to write again about his work. His website has a lot of new work, including the series Chacarita.

© Nachó Coló, from the series Chacarita

The series deals with the neighborhood of the same name. Located roughly in the geographical center of  of Buenos Aires [the city, not it’s suburbs], the neighborhood is usually just a place you pass through, either on your way to the suburbs, by train, or to the hereafter, Chacarita being home to the city’s largest cemetery.

Mixing portraits, street scenes, and details in an open and free way, the series nicely captures the feel of Buenos Aires’ barrios  as well as showing Coló’s senstive eye when it comes to photographing people and things.

© Nachó Coló, from the series Chacarita

© Nachó Coló, from the series Chacarita

© Nachó Coló, from the series Chacarita

Coló has also updated his series on the neighborhood security guards, now called La Seguridad y los perros, which is definitely worth checking out.

Flavia Schuster

August 16, 2011

I recently came across the photos of Flavia Schuster, in two different publications; Dulce X Negra and Revista Lunfarda. The photos document her travels and, I think more importantly, her encounters. There’s this chaotic energy to her protraits, with often a lot going on inside the frame, weird focus points and the suggestion of a whirlwind of activity descending upon the town.

© Flavia Schuster

© Flavia Schuster

© Flavia Schuster

© Flavia Schuster

© Flavia Schuster

Feria de Libros de Fotografia de Autor 2011

August 14, 2011

The Feria de Libros de Fotos de Autor is taking place currently in Buenos Aires. It’s a book fair featuring locally published photo books.  The small fair takes place at Espacio Eclectico on Humberto Primo 730 in San Telmo and runs for another weekend. Here’s a few snaps I took.

Feria de Libros de Fotografía de Autor

Feria de Libros de Fotografía de Autor

The fair also features clever one-off,  home-made albums, and some objects that stretch the definition of “book”

Bichitos Mios by Belén Revollo

On the walls are mini exhibits by some excellent photographers; Florencia Blanco, Sebastian Szyd, Ananké Asseff, Facundo de Zuviría, Luciana Betesh, and Sergio Liste.

Florencia Blanco & Sebastián Szyd

Ananké Asseff

Facundo de Zuviría

Sergio Liste

I ended up buying a couple of books; Fachadas de Rafaella by Jimena Passadore and Imagenes en Memoria by Gerardo Dell’Oro They’re both quite good. I think I’ll end up writing separate posts about each but for now here’s a quick snap of each:

Fachadas de Rafaela de Jimena Passadore

Imágenes en Memoria by Gerardo Dell'Oro

Imágenes en Memoria by Gerardo Dell'Oro

A little bit about my process for Ochava Solstice

August 8, 2011

On sunny days, I’ve been busy working on my project Ochava Solstice. I thought I’d write a little bit about how I’ve been going about it recently. Here’s a picture of me shortly before taking a picture for the series.

Me about to shoot an Ochava

The building in question is on the north-facing corner of Marcos Paz and Asunción in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Villa Devoto. Here’s a gratuitous close-up of the image on the ground glass. Since I’m standing in the shade and the building is in the sun, I don’t need to use a darkcloth.

Image on the ground glass of the building with the ochava shadow

For all the camera geeks out there, I’m shooting this series on a Busch Pressman Model D. It’s a press camera from the 1950s similar to a Speed Graphic. The main difference is that the back rotates, letting me shoot vertically, which I do a lot. I’m using a 210mm lens which is slightly telephoto for the 4×5 format.

I had already scouted out this building online. When I first started this project I’d look for these buildings on foot. At first these triangular shadows were just something I noticed in my walks around the city and I’d snap them with my digital camera. Once I got serious about the project, I returned to those same buildings with my 4×5 and a tripod, and waited for the moment when the shadow is exactly in the middle.

The buildings in the series are functional apartment buildings from the 1960s that just happen to cast a triangular shadow. It’s not intentional. It’s the result of a law requiring corner buildings to have a diagonal cut on the ground floor [known as the “ochava”] combined with real estate developers’ desire to maximize square footage [or meterage, I suppose].

Apartment buildings from this era are everywhere in Buenos Aires but ones suitable for my project can be hard to find. They have to face the sun and not be in another building’s shadow. There’s almost always a kiosko on the ground floor or something else “wrong” with the building. In finding the ones I’ve taken so far, I’ve scoured a number of neighborhoods, on foot, in great detail. Recently, in the name of efficiency, I’ve taken to using the Mapa Interactivo run by the city government. It’s less efficient than Google Street View [which doesn’t exist here yet], but still faster than walking around. In the map, you zoom in on a block, click on a plot of land, and it shows you a photo from several years ago. Here’s the photo of this particular building I found on the site.

Marcos Paz & Asuncion

As I’m navigating the site, I confine my search to neighborhoods where I think I’m likely to find buildings like the one above [not too urban, not too suburban]. I only click on the street corners that face north, towards the sun [remember we’re in the southern hemisphere]. To keep track of my progress, I’ve been marking up a map with little dots:

Map I'm using to check off street corners (the black dots)

Of all those little dots on the map above only two were buildings suitable for my project. It’s a bit like panning for gold.

Meanwhile in my apartment I’ve taped up the contact prints of Ochavas I’ve already shot in order to track my progress. Here are the ones I did last year:

2010 Ochavas

And here are the Ochavas I’ve done so far in 2011

2011 Ochavas (so far)

My goal is to reach 50. It’s a bit arbitrary but I want to show a large number of these shadows and 50 seems like a good number. I’ve got around 40 so far. There are a number of good buildings I’ve already scouted out but I need to wait a few months for the sun to get higher in the sky.

Buenos Aires is totally flat and built on a grid, although it’s actually several different grids. The grids don’t all face the same way. The time of a particular corner’s “solstice” is determined by its cardinal orientation. The height of the shadow is determined by the time of year, with summer casting longer shadows. [Curious tidbit: maps in Buenos Aires don’t all face north. There’s at least three different orientations commonly used when depicting the city.]

Most of the street corners in my project so far are north-facing corners taken in winter [June & July]. A few are east or west-facing corners taken in the summer morning or afternoon, respectively. The arc of the sun is much higher in summer so the window of time when the sun is at the right position to cast an appropriately sized shadow is shorter. I drew this diagram below to explain this to a friend, although I’m not sure it makes the concept any clearer.

Porteño Calendar

I’ve previously compared these triangular shadows to the serpent-like shadow that appears on Chichen Itza at the equinox. It seems that I’ve now drawn up a sort of Aztec-like calendar for Buenos Aires. There are no geographical references in Buenos Aires. The river is distant and cut-off from the main part of the city and there are no mountains to provide a reference point. Walking around the grid of the city can sometimes feel like being lost in a kind of labyrinth. If I’m beginning to lose that sense of being lost it’s only because I’ve now memorized good chunks of that grid, recreating it mentally in my head to orient myself. These street corner photographs are like totems of my wonderings around Buenos Aires.

I’m now scouring [online] the very edges of the city, places I’ve yet to reach during my 3+ years of walking around the city. Obviously I only shoot this series on sunny days. If it’s cloudy I work on other stuff. Partially cloudy days are a real source of frustration because I never know if I should risk spending an 90 minutes on a bus to reach the neighborhood only to have a cloud erase the shadow at the critical time. There’s only about a two minute window when the triangle appears visually to be in the middle.

For this building the day was in fact partially cloudy but they were very low and moving fast in the stiff wind. Arriving at the corner early I sat in the sun as the day was very cold. I shot this video below which shows the shadow disappearing as a quick cloud passes by:

I was fortunate that day in that by the time the shadow reached its midpoint the clouds had departed. Here’s a snapshot of the contact sheet I just got back from the lab. One more corner to cross off the list.

Contact sheet of Marcos Paz & Asuncion Ochava

I’ve also written more about this project in these two blog posts; Ochava Solstice and Ochava Solstice – Things that Go Wrong.

Other Kinds of Ochavas

August 2, 2011

Allende 3786

Lastra 3692

Quevedo 3392

Quintana 4694

Vallejos 4516

Virgilio 2788

To get a little more efficient in my search of buildings for my Ochava Solstice series, I’ve been using the Mapa Interactivo de Buenos Aires. The site, run by the city government, is a sort of a poor-man’s Google Street View [GSV hasn’t reached Argentina yet]. You have to zoom in on the parcel of land in question and click on it to access the picture.

There’s something about street corners in Buenos Aires and it has to do with the Ochava. The word Ochava refers to the diagonal cut on the corner that all buildings, by law, must have. While these street corners won’t work for my Ochava Solstice series, they’ve all got something and I’d like to take their portrait, so to speak. I’m taking notes and may be returning to these corners for more pictures.

Meanwhile I continue scouring the map for more triangular shadows. Sometimes the photographers from the city unwittingly do my work for me:

Jufre & Acevedo