Archive for October, 2011

Martin Weber – Echoes from the Interior

October 31, 2011

I first discovered Martin Weber’s project, Echoes from the Interior when it was shown in 2002 at a long-defunct gallery in Harlem called The Project. At the time I had just moved to New York and was discovering the pleasures of super-huge color C-prints common in contemporary photography [then and now]. Weber’s project really stuck with me because I had just recently spent a year and a half living in Argentina in 1999 and 2000 and to see large format, color works of subject matter I was familiar with and nostalgic for was a big deal for me at the time. Unfortunately I never bothered to write down Weber’s name and, although the photos stuck with me, for a number of years I had no idea who they were by. Eventually I came across one of the prints at an art show here in Buenos Aires and was able to track down Weber. At the time he didn’t have a website but he does now.

The series show scenes from various provinces of Argentina’s interior which have, in some way, to do with the history of the country and popular beliefs of the people. Many elements of the country’s recent political and economic history are touched upon in an eliptical way. Helpfully, the photos in the series come with an explanatory text, making each photo into sort of fable. The text that goes with the images here on my blog is too small to read, so I’d recommend going to Weber’s website and going through the whole series.

© Martin Weber

© Martin Weber

© Martin Weber

© Martin Weber

Report from Buenos Aires Photo 2011

October 30, 2011

This weekend is the annual photography fair here, Buenos Aires Photo. I went on Friday and snapped a bunch of pictures of stuff I liked. Here’s a brief report:

The fair takes places at the Palais de Glace, a building in Recoleta from Argentina’s golden era. It originally housed an ice-skating rink [in 1911] and today features a rotating schedule of art fairs and exhibits. The architecture of the building is fascinating.

Buenos Aires Photo at Palais de Glace

Buenos Aires Photo at Palais de Glace

It’s cool to dis art fairs like this because they’re very commercial and filled with mediocre crap. While true, I go anyway because I always discover stuff I like, even stuff that blows me away.

One of the things I like the most about this fair [and other photography fairs I’ve been to] is the amount of vintage black & white prints by long established [or long dead] masters. If you happened to have missed so-and-so’s retrospective in 1987 [or whenever] these fairs are basically your only shot and seeing beautiful, vintage, black & white prints.

Wall featuring vintage prints by Anatole Saderman, Annemarie Heinrich, Alex Klein, Grete Stern, Juan Di Sandro, and Fred Schiffer

Vintage print by Pierre Verger

A while back I wrote a post about Pierre Verger. I love his photos.

Oscar Pintor is a classic of Argentine photography. Active in the 1970s and 1980s mostly, his black & white photos have a balance of dry-ness and romanticism. My friend Emma commented that they seem very contemporary. I think I’ll need to write a post just about his photos. They’re that awesome.

Oscar Pintor prints

Aldo Sessa is equal parts Annie Leibovitz and Ansel Adams. He makes big, technically perfect photographs of obvious subjects, utterly lacking in soul. He produces massive coffee table books featuring tango dancers and gauchos. For most people in Argentina, outside of the photo-ghetto, Sessa IS photography. He has his own vanity-gallery at this year’s fair, and, believe it or not, I was actually taken with a small set of color photographs of the industrial side of Buenos Aires taken in the late 1950s [take that Eggleston!].

Aldo Sessa, early color

Aldo Sessa, early color

There’s a group of photos documenting artistic actions by conceptual artist Luiz Pazos, from 1973. They look like they were a lot of fun to make. 1973 was an interesting year for Argentina. Perón was elected again as president after 18 years of exile. There was a brief flowering of arts and culture that was snuffed out in 1976 following the militar coup.

Luiz Pazos

Perhaps my favorite photo in the entire fair was this one by Roberto Riverti. Taken in 1987 in the rural city of Chascomus, it’s a night photograph of an old cinema showing a double bill of Back to the Future and D.C. Cab [starring Mr. T!!]

Roberto Riverti, movie theatre in Chascomus

Then, of course, there’s a lot of contemporary stuff in color.

Marcos Lopez

I once read a quote by Marcos Lopez stating something to the effect that he can only make images in Latin America. I was interested, then, to see these photos, made this year in Lithuania. The photos are pared down from the high-baroque style of Lopez’s recent photos, but still recognizably Marcos.

res

A very large photo by res of an abstract color pattern painted on the side of a shack in a shantytown.

Santiago Porter

Santiago Porter’s giant photo shows the ever-so-slight inclination in the generally very flat pampas landscape. I’ve been sort of fascinated lately with flatness in landscape photography. I’m reminded of this quote from Charles Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle:

For many leagues north and south…the country is really level. Scarcely anything which travelers have written about its extreme flatness can be considered as exaggeration…. At sea, a person’s eye being six feet above the surface of the water, his horizon is two miles and four-fifths distant. In like manner, the more level the plain, the more nearly does the horizon approach within these narrow limits; and this, in my opinion, entirely destroys that grandeur which one would have imagined that a vast level plain would have possessed.

With Porter’s photograph, we don’t even get that far because it’s shrouded in fog.

Emma Livingston

Emma Livingston’s lovely tree portraits.

Esteban Pastorino

A kite photograph by Esteban Pastorino. He builds his own cameras and has a bunch of cool projects.

Guido Chouela

A nocturnal ochava by Guido Chouela. He’s got an interesting series of factories that I’ve been meaning to blog about for awhile.

Hans Stoll

Peruvian photographer Hans Stoll shares my fascination with Buenos Aires rooftops.

Daniela Trajtenberg

Interesting still lifes by Daniel Trajtenberg.

Sebastian Desbats

Sebastian Desbats does these retrofuturistic photos involving rocks, sea water and objects suggestive of space ships.

Roberto Huarcaya

Roberto Huarcaya, detail

Roberto Huarcaya’s panoramic photo depicts the divide in economic class on Lima’s outskirts between a gated community ringed with barbed wire and the humble houses on the other side. A similar panorama, showing a public and private beach, won last year’s Petrobras prize, which is an important prize given annually as part of the fair.

This year the prize went to Eduardo Gil and Nacho Iasparra who won 1st and 2nd place, respectively. They are the two photographers here in Argentina I’ve been taking workshops with for the last two years, so this was very exciting.

Eduardo Gil

Nacho Iasparra

Here’s a list of 2011 honorable mentions for the Petrobras prize. For me the winner of the nicest prints goes to Martin Weber’s color work.

Martin Weber

Martin Weber

Both of these photos come from Weber’s series Echoes from the Interior. I love the subject matter and the quality of his prints is stunning. Good printing is starting to seem like a lost art.

Finally, one of my favorite things was this small side exhibit by Eduardo Carrera. Called naturaleza it features photos of potted plans, girls and zoo animals. While this sounds random, I found it really worked well together and had this whimsical grace about it. It was a nice relief to the bombast of so much of the large work one sees at fairs like this.

Eduardo Carrera

Eduardo Carrera

I really like Carrera’s work in general, especially his series Verano Porteño, which I’ve blogged about before.

And that’s about it. I went during the afternoon and the place was empty. I felt like I had the whole place to myself and it let me really see all the stands. The low attendance probably had something to do with the glorious spring weather here in Buenos Aires at the moment.

Primavera Porteña

Only a geek like me would choose to spend a sunny afternoon like this in a dark hall looking at photographs. I loved it, though.

Leo Marino – Gran Buenos Aires

October 26, 2011

Leo Marino lives in the southern suburbs of Buenos Aires and drives around taking pictures of the conurbano [full disclosure: we both attend the same workshop]. The pictures of his GBA Series have a sub-tropical placelessness. They could be Buenos Aires or they could be Iraq. The photos also underscore the point that perhaps the most important accessory a photographer can have is a car.

© Leo Marino

© Leo Marino

© Leo Marino

© Leo Marino

© Leo Marino

Franco Verdoia – Las Varillas de Frente

October 23, 2011

You probably know by now that I’m a sucker for pictures of houses. Naturally I love Franco Verdoia’s series, Las Varillas de Frente, which shows whimsical suburban homes in the city of Las Varillas in the Argentine province of Cordoba.

Franco Verdoia - Las Varillas de Frente

Franco Verdoia - Las Varillas de Frente

Franco Verdoia - Las Varillas de Frente

The photos above are from the website 13 Fotografos, which features work from, you guessed it, thirteen photographers in Argentina.

Also, here’s some previous posts with pictures of houses: Gabriel Diaz – Formas de Vida, Pablo Adarme – Cake Houses [Colombia], German Ruiz – Conurbano & Dogs, Sebastian Friedman – Segurisimos, Martin Rubini’s Enanos, and Marino Balbuena – Casas

Chalet 2011

October 16, 2011

I’ve updated my series Chalet Porteño with work from this year and last. I’ve been meaning to do this for almost a year, ever since my Chalet 2010 post last December. Taking new pictures for the series has been haphazard this year and, indeed, there’s only one house that I shot this year that I’m including in the edit. It’s one of my favorites, though, and the only one with a person.

Chalet Porteño in the neighborhood of Boedo

Here’s another one that didn’t make the edit. It’s from the unfortunately named suburb of Morón. I’ve been more interested in Chalets in an urban setting but, perhaps, this photo could be the start of a further exploration of the Chalet-style form in Argentina.

Suburban Chalet Hybrid in Buenos Aires suburbs

Jorg Bruggemann – Ushuaia

October 12, 2011

Jorg Bruggemann is a German photographer who has several projects shot in South America. I was particularly interested in his work, Mas Austral, which shows working class youth and landscapes in Ushuaia on Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina’s [and the World’s] southernmost city.

Jorg Bruggemann - Mas Austral

As Bruggemann notes in his text accompanying the series:

A free trade zone was established which led to fast urban development. Whereas in 1975 there were 7000 people living in Ushuaia, today it hosts nearly 60 000. Most of them were young families  coming North of Argentina looking for work with their children. They are also the reason why I went to the world’s most Southern city. I wanted to know what it was like being young while living at the end of the world.

Jorg Bruggemann

What I find interesting about the series is that, take away the pine trees and sloped landscape and this could be any working class suburb of Buenos Aires. Indeed, while Northern Argentina has distinct regional cultures dating back to the colonial era, most of Patagonia has been settled fairly recently and, culturally, is something of an annex to Buenos Aires province. Rather than being some exotic, uttermost place as imagined by Bruce Chatwin, Ushuaia is really just like a bunch of pibes from Lanús.

Jorg Bruggemann - Mas Austral

Jorg Bruggemann - Mas Austral

Jorg Bruggemann - Mas Austral

Bruggemann also has a great series, The Same but Different, documenting backpacker culture around the world. At some point I’ll write a post about the idea of gringos in contemporary photography, for which this series will be key.

Meteorito “El Taco”

October 2, 2011

In 1962 a farmer in northern Argentina discovered a 2-ton meteor fragment in his field. A joint US-Argentine scientific team obtained the hunk of metal and proceeded to split the thing in two. Since then one half has sat at the entrance to Buenos Aires’ Planetarium while the other half has been in storage with the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

Last year Argentine artists Guillermo Faivovich and Nicolas Goldberg reunited the two pieces at an exhibition in Germany. A catalog accompanying the exhibition was published by Hanje Catze. It contains photographs from the original scientific expedition, as well as photos by Faivovich and Goldberg of the two halves in their current states. It’s sort of like Evidence meets a Tale of Two Cities; one half sits in a pristine scientific warehouse in the 1st world while the other endures pigeon shit and the antics of school children on field trips to the Planetarium.

The two halves of "El Taco" reunited in Germany

El Taco

"El Taco" pre-split

Faivovich & Goldberg with the two pieces of "El Taco"

Here’s a link to an interview of the artists in Spanish.  Reuniting the two halves of El Taco took four years involving five agencies in two countries. The true work of art is the artists’ deft leaping through many bureaucratic hula-hoops in order to bring these two halves together.

The Argentine half of El Taco is now back at the Planetarium. Here’s a couple of pictures I took recently.

"El Taco" at the Planetarium in Buenos Aires

"El Taco" at the Planetarium in Buenos Aires