Posts Tagged ‘chalet’

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

Chalet 2010

December 23, 2010

My Chalet Houses project was the first thing I pursued with any degree of seriousness here in Buenos Aires. I started in late 2008 and spent a good portion of the winter of 2009 wandering around different neighborhoods looking for these odd implants from another continent.

This past winter [I’m talking about June & July] I had a few cloudy days here and there to go out and continue the series. One day while walking in a borderline sketchy neighborhood of Avellaneda, I found this glorious house:

"Birth of a Chalet" in Avellaneda

I felt like I was witnessing the birth of a chalet. Finally I could understand where these rare creatures were born. I once had an astronomy professor say that if you took a complete image of all human activities in a single moment you could, if you were a space alien, lets say, piece together the entire cycle of life and death. He was making an analogy for our own observation of the skies, so fleeting on the scale of astronomical time. I remembered this as I saw this house and thought that perhaps my endless walks around the city and suburbs were, perhaps, leading to some gestalt view of the city that transcended time.

I’m maybe getting a little deep here. The reality is both more mundane and more telling. As it turned out a neighbor was sweeping the sidewalk and asked me what I was up to [this happens a lot]. I got to talking to her and she explained that the house belonged to a couple that had a nasty fight and broke up. The title to the house has been tied up in courts for years and así quedó.

Bicentennial Chalet

2010 was also Argentina’s bicentennial. People always put out flags around May 25th [the date of their first rebellion against Spanish rule] but this year was much more than usual. What I like about the Chalet-style houses in Buenos Aires is their sense of placelessness, despite them being ulta-porteño. I love the little flags as indicators of time and place.

Chalet 'in situ'

In showing my Chalets around to people, one of the things that people responded to was the context of the site and the absurdity of these little mountain cottages being sandwiched into the urban fabric of flat Buenos Aires. When I first began the series I was really just fascinated with the aesthetics of chalet-style architecture. This year I really focused more on the context. I found myself walking over and over again in dense neighborhoods closer to the city center where I was more likely to find houses like this one. Chalet houses in Argentina are like ranch homes in California. They’re everywhere. The challenge is finding one with no cars parked in front of it.

Chalet in Burzaco, Zona Sur, 2009

I also spent a lot of this year taking the train out to random places in the conurbano of Buenos Aires, as its suburbs are known and just taking pictures of stuff. Of course I found lots of Chalets. The one above is from one of my first soujourns to the edge of the city last year. In these cases it becomes less about the context of the site and more about the particularities of the house itself [and what it implies about the tastes and economic status of its occupants]. Here’s one from this year:

Chalet top in Lanus

Layers of taste in residential construction are, literally, laid one on top of another. If the first photo is the “birth of a chalet,” this one is a sort of mutation, a compromise. It represents perfectly the competition between status and efficiency.

João Pina & a Chalet in the New York Times

May 30, 2010

A recently published photo essay on the New York Times’ Lens Blog features photos by Portuguese photojournalist João Pina showing sites of clandestine detention centers in Chile and Argentina that were active during the countries’ respective military dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s. The essay also features contemporary portraits of survivors of the state repression as well as relatives of the disappeared.

While this might seem incredibly trivial, I couldn’t help but notice that the final photo in the essay features a Buenos Aires Chalet-style house in the background:

© Joao Pina

From the piece:

Mr. Pina said he was struck by how ordinary the locations were — garages, a sports stadium, offices. “Most of them are places that can be in the corner of our houses,” he said. “They’re very normal places”