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.

One Response to “Report from Buenos Aires Photo 2011”

  1. Eduardo Gil Says:

    Hola Thomas

    Excelente tu visión de BAphoto! Yo apenas pude ver nada…

    Espero que andes bien.

    Un abrazo

    Eduardo


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