Saturday, June 16, 2012

Martin Weber and a Visit to the Artist's Studio

The opportunity to visit an artist’s studio – or in this case, the artist’s apartment – is truly unique.  The way one usually experiences the work of an artist is on the walls of a gallery or museum; however, when visiting with an artist on a more personal level, one is privileged to relate more closely with the artist and his/her work.  In the case of Martin Weber, the personal experience of sitting around his viewing table as casually listening and looking on as he flipped through his prints was all too appropriate.  Given the personal nature of his subject matter, the personal setting of his apartment was a wonderful place to experience his photographs.  Spending most of our time flipping through boxes of prints from a project called A Map of Latin American Dreams, we got a detailed account of the subjects in each of the images.  Martin’s project explores the goals and desires of his sitters, the intimate and personal desires of people we do not even know.  What is interesting is, after hearing Weber tell us what each blackboard scribbled dream and desire said, he would give a little anecdote about his experience photographing.  This gave the project a whole other layer that allowed for us, the viewers, to feel slightly connected to the people in the photograph, regardless of the cultural differences or the fact that we have never and probably will never meet those people ever.  The thread that ties us to them and them to one another, though, is their desires – the fact that we all have goals and dreams that we wish to be fulfilled.  Some are simpler than others but we have them all the same and that link connects us in a way they would not be possible without Martin’s work. 
The second body of work that I chose to focus on, was titled, Momentos.  This project drew inspiration from the artist’s Argentine background and history.  It deals predominantly with an allusion to the past – a nostalgic recollection of a different time.  Martin incorporates preexisting photos and images that allude to what the artist describes as, “the ingenuity and tenderness, power and cruelty, fear and solemnity that accompanied a slew of memories and signs that filled my childhood.”  The photographs comment on memory and the some things are carried with us for our entire lives, from the time of childhood.  The series is politically charged and deals with themes of some of Argentina’s darker history.  I am no authority, but – from what I can tell – there is something genuinely Argentine about this body of work that allows for the photos to seem like snapshots from a different time.  Martin’s work is very emotional and successfully conveys all of that emotion through the care and attention to technical detail in his prints. 

Salta Through Different Eyes

Everyone experiences a place slightly differently.  I was looking at the same things as everybody else; however, the way I took in Salta and interpreted the things I saw was different than the way others may have interpreted those same things.  This project focuses on the individuality of new experiences and interestingly, it bridges the perspective of two different people.  The purpose of this project was to extract us from our conventional way of looking.  I paired with another student on this trip and we each set out in the city looking to take an interesting photograph, then we met and exchanged our images.  We went back out to photograph again; but this time, we were looking for the subject matter that the other shot.  My partner took this photograph:
The photograph shows an ornate gate and a black and white checkered floor.  This is an exterior image, the light on the gate and the shadows across the foreground are indicators.  So I set out to find gates, tiled floors and, on an elemental level, the patterns and forms in the frame.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Salta and the Argentine Northwest

I didn't realize just how different argentina was culturally until I found myself deep inside the most authentic Argentine experience I will ever encounter.

After Cartier Bresson, my Argentine Decisive Moment


Remember when I said this would be a chronicle?  Well, this chronicle isn't going in chronological order - sorry.  Regardless, I wanted to tell you about ArteBA.  Picture some of the coolest galleries in the world coming together under one roof and exhibiting some work from their best and most current artists.  Hundreds of galleries showing some of the most interesting and fresh contemporary work in one place - sound like a culture shock?  Well it was.  When thinking about the gallery setting, there are a few things that factor in: first, the location of the gallery.  There's a reason why Chelsea galleries have more clout than a gallery in suburb-ville, nowhere - while that does not speak to the art at all, it is just the first thing to consider because the environment draws a particular crowd and a particular type of work.  Second, one must consider the interior space.  What type of wall does the work hang on?  What are the floors and ceiling like?  Who is siting behind the counter greeting people?  All of those questions speak to the atmosphere of the gallery - some spaces can be very different than others and that is usually an indicator of the type of work displayed and the concept that the gallery focuses on.  Lastly, the work itself is different from gallery to gallery.  Imagine all different atmospheres, different types of work, from all different locations - it's a massive influx of artistic information.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

¿Qué tal?

It's my last week in Argentina and I realize that all my readers must think I've been completely neglecting my blog.  In fact, I have been hotel-hopping around the Argentinian Northwest where WiFi is scarcely found.   I'm afraid that's no excuse though, I should have told you, so I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to my readers - sorry, Mom.

Just letting you know that my crack team of IT trained monkeys are hard at work on a whole slew of new posts for you.  Don't worry there's more on the way soon; I'm just trying to keep you in suspense, so check back soon.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


 Tigre is one of the largest river deltas in the world and in my experience, functions much like a major roadway.  Ferry's bring inhabitants and visitors up and down the river and it is common to see crew rowers fine-tuning their strokes.  A boy paddles his boat past our docked ferry and as his vessel, which seems much too large for a single rower, cuts through the cloudy - clay-colored - water.  His was the first of many types of boats found on El Tigre.

As we venture away from the dock and into the forrest-lined river, we pass a riverboat that has long since run aground.  The rust covering the tin-roofed cargo boat is a clear indication of the history of this river.  The aged buildings, peppered into the scenic landscape, all seemed as if they could tell a story.  The river had been running long before people went there and will be running long after they're going.  As the paint of the houses peal and the boats drift ashore, all human interaction with the waterway eventually becomes part of Tigre's history.

Our destination is a stilted house, the vacation home of our gracious host of the day.  Horacio de las Carreras, a lawyer by day and a writer by night, was a most inviting and generous host who invited us to his home on Tigre, cooked a first-class meal and shared his Mate with us.  A true "Gaucho Intelectual," as quoted by his daughter, Emilia who has been our local contact on this trip.

Just as the semi-tropical forest engulfs the remains of the man-made along the river, the lived-in home of Horacio also seems to be surrounded by plant life.  Argentina demonstrates and interesting relationship between nature and the made made.  The tropical bushes seems to almost be imbedded into the house, which is situated a short two to three hundred meters from the riverbank.

Less than a stones-throw from the front door of the house is the charming yellow motorboat corralled at the dock, much like a car parked in a the driveway.  The water is the primary mode of transportation for the people who live on Tigre.  As one could imagine, flooding is common and the dense forest of trees makes roadways nearly impossible.  Horacio's house used to be a plantation that produced trees, which were ferried upstream and used for building and burning.  The path through the plantation, like every other structure on Tigre is built up so allow for the owner to check the plantation even during a rainy spell.  The river permeates the community of Tigre and is such an uncontainable force that it is one of the few places where man-made structures work around the presence of nature.  This also speaks to the natural / human-produced relationship we observe in so many areas of Argentina.

Friday, May 25, 2012

1o Differences

Emersion into a foreign environment is both jarring and exciting.  This project focuses on the differences I have observed between home and Buenos Aires.

French, Spanish and Italian design have inspired much of the architecture in this city.  From the ornate stone-work on the building to the intricacy of the sidewalk, there is an elegance that can be found int the most common of places.

 The view from a café window shows the color and various layers of space.                Unused space in the city often becomes overgrown and the cement and stone are slowly engulfed by trees and vines.  An old weathered charm is juxtaposed by modern advertisements.

Green plants permeate buildings and become part of the structure.  For one of the largest cities in America, a very urban environment, there is an abundance of horticulture.


 Charming and slick leaves layer the sidewalk in the late afternoon during this season, which is just one more testament of nature growing through the city.  Motorcycles and Mopeds are parked on the sidewalk and are ridden by a majority of inhabitants.
                                                                   The graffiti plasters the barrio of Polermo, a hip atmosphere where this park and monument are located.  The color saturates the city and emphasizes the diverse layers of Buenos Aires.  The contrast of the tag and this monument mimic the contrasting styles of buildings in the background.  The modern grey building right next to the decorative stone building with the arched windows right next to it.  This city's architectural design is just as eclectic as its inhabitants and history.

Exotic trees with external roots protruding pepper this town just as friendly stray dogs do.  Sitting in the park, a dog without a collar came and sat down with us.  It's easy to make friends here.   Things are more relaxed in La Boca where colorful buildings line the streets and dogs peak out from underneath restaurant tables.

 Special stopping lanes for motorcycles? Something I think the states could definitely use more of.  Due to the massive amount of two wheel traffic, this city invites motorcycles and mopeds to get in front of traffic at lights and accelerate quickly to avoid traffic.