Posts Tagged ‘Barracas’

La Araña

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I lived with the artist Monica Millan in Buenos Aires. She is from the subtropical province of Missiones in Argentina and often works with communities in Paraguay. This is why, when I told her about a scary spider I saw in the bathroom one morning, and she asked me how big it was, after showing her with my two fingers making a small circle, she said, “Ah, no es nada!! En Missiones…” then she put her two hands together to make the largest circle she could, to show me the size of beasts they have up there.

Always check under the bed

She reassured me they were harmless and wouldn’t bother me if I didn’t bother them. The usual speech. Then I remembered some strange marks I had found on my arm, in a circular pattern, and I showed them to her. “Ah, si. De una araña…” she said with a shrug of her shoulders. So they do bite! And likely while you’re sleeping!

It was then that I noticed the spider tattoo on the back of Monica’s neck, and also the spider on the tank top she often wore around the house. Living with someone who revered what I feared, I had some work to do.

Some weeks later, when Bergitta moved out (a tango-dancing Swedish painter who had been living there) I changed bedrooms. I moved into the wood-paneled room with a window onto the garden. The one with the orange light, magenta mosquito net and the spider painting hanging on the wall.

On the wall above my bed

One night there was a full moon. I went to sleep with its silver-blue light shining directly on my pillow. Sometime in the middle of the night, straight out of a deep sleep, I abruptly opened my eyes. And I opened them WIDE. What I saw, was a fat-bodied spider dangling right above my face, back-lit by the full moon. I heard my voice whisper, “ooohh…my god,” as I slid horizontally off of the bed, out from under gravity’s pull on that 8-legged body, and switched on the lights. I inspected the hell out of that wood-paneled room and found nothing but my own fear.

My bedroom’s closed shutters, through the grape vines in the garden, where the cat stalks the night and the queen spider watches from the banana tree

Standing in the middle of the room, now having put on my tennis shoes, I asked, what the hell just happened? Was that real? And even now, I’m convinced the sequence of events began with opening my eyes and that it wasn’t a dream. But like a big baby, from then on I slept with the lights on, so that during the night I could wake up and immediately scan the room for anything menacing. Though after that, I didn’t see another spider. The only pests remaining were the mosquitoes.

Full moon night in Barracas, Buenos Aires

Day One in Central Park, Buenos Aires

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Mariana and Fabian getting ready to mount Yuyo's canvas in his studio in Central Park, Barracas, Buenos Aires.

…feeling nostalgic tonight. It’s almost midnight in Buenos Aires. I’m in Paris.

My cheeks are still chilled from the walk home along the frigid Canal St Martin. It’s hot and muggy down in BA and there will probably soon be a downpour.

One year ago today I watched a huge canvas being put onto an 11-by-3 meter frame in a studio in my neighborhood in Barracas, BA. Yuyo (Luis Felipe Noe) would soon start assembling his work for the Venice Biennale, a process I would continue photographing for three months in Argentina, plus another two weeks in Venice.

Today was day one.

Appearance in La Nacion

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Just back in Paris from the Venice Bienale.

A photo from this project documenting Yuyo Noé’s creative process was published in La Nacion in Buenos Aires on Sunday.

Noe working at Central Park, in Barracas, Buenos Aires. March 2009.

Noe working at Central Park, in Barracas, Buenos Aires. March 2009.

Last Days at Central Park

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

These are my last few days in Buenos Aires before I head north on a big bus. Jungle…to desert…to salt flats…and, perhaps…to Chile.

4pm light at Central Park, Barracas, Buenos Aires.

4pm light at Central Park, Barracas, Buenos Aires.

I am spending part of every day at Central Park, the studio and office complex in Barracas, photographing the painter Luis Felipe Noé (known as Yuyo, and sometimes Master) and his dedicated assistants as they work intensely on his works of art for the Venice Biennale. Time is running short. It all gets packed up in about a week and will be re-constructed on the other side of the ocean, where I will see it again at the end of May.



For two months I’ve watched him create; using brush, pen, finger, pencil, mop, ink, glue, paper, canvas and paint. He is Master to many and I’ve relished watching him work. He and everyone around him have been so warm, welcoming and helpful; the heart of my experience of Buenos Aires.

Spending time with him and the artists who assist him has expanded my field of vision. My dreams are saturated with color and my reality is full of new ideas.

A Walk Through Central Park, Barracas

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

For the last few weeks I’ve been photographing the creation of a piece of artwork for the Venice Biennale, which I will follow over to Italy at the end of May. The work is being created in a studio in Central Park, a huge puzzle of studios in Barracas, Buenos Aires.

The building takes up one whole block, between Avenidas, California, Iriarte, Vieytes and Herrera. Built in 1889, it was originally a match and matchbox factory until 1928, when it became a printing and graphics company, continually expanding its space until it went bankrupt in 1993.

Since the rehab and re-opening in 1998 its 50,000 m2 of space has been offices and artist studios… The painter Pérez Celis painted the exterior of the building and had a studio here.

I live two blocks away. It is my landmark to know when to get off the bus.

Notes from Buenos Aires

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Tomorrow it will be two weeks that I have been in BsAs and I’ve only taken two tango classes. It’s not why I came here, but I keep meeting people with a tango mission, who try to master it every single night. The challenge interests me, particularly when it involves creating something beautiful, which tango tragically is, but my patience can only handle it in small, well-spaced doses.

Smells like normous jasmin.  And a view from Parque Lezama after a torrential downpour.  Barracas.

Madagascar jasmin. Looking out from Parque Lezama after a torrential downpour. Barracas.

Why did I come to Buenos Aires?

That is what people keep asking, so I’ll try to answer. I can be vague and say a number of factors and people entered my life a while back that, when all put together led me to a city in South America I hadn’t considered living in before. But I also needed to get out of Paris for a while, find new subjects, add some new colors to my palette and open up my senses to the Spanish-speaking world. And in Paris, Argentina was in the air everywhere I turned. Si si, c’est vrai.

Church squeezed and shadowed.  Tiles in San Telmo.

Church squeezed and shadowed. Tiles in San Telmo.

So I’m here.

The shock of the first week is over.

I’m eating empanadas daily. It’s like the crepe: ubiquitous and cheap.

Practically everyone I meet is a talented artist.

I’m living in a semi-industrial and economically-challenged neighborhood. It’s relatively safe, but you have to be very careful at night. While it’s at the southern edge of the city, where I might expect a sort of peace, it is the noisiest place I have ever lived.

El sol, direct and indirect

El sol, direct and indirect

From the red-tiled garden, under sun filtered by grape vines, I hear :

The elevated train passing every two minutes, which I no longer mistake for a coming thunderstorm.

The man who drives his pick-up truck up and down the block with a grainy megaphone announcing “naranjas, uno kilo cinco pesos!”

A faceless person who blows a rhythmic whistle every morning, bright and early. Why?

The occasional low-flying helicopter.

Heavy trucks and buses bouncing regularly and violently on the broken pavement, making enough noise to put a pause into a conversation.

And… the occasional mini neighborhood batucada on the corner, which is always welcome.

Arriving in Buenos Aires from Paris is like going from noir et blanc to Technicolor, in sound and sight.

Architecture and the watcher of the bridge in Puerto Madero.

Architecture and the watcher of the bridge in Puerto Madero.

PS. As I write, I have been bitten at least 4 times by mosquitoes despite the OFF! I’m slathered in, the next-door poodle is barking at the Dalmatian that hangs out all day in his barred window and Vicentico is singing to a fast rhythm on the radio.

And a sculptor friend in Paris just wrote to say, “I hope you know what you’re doing. Times are difficult. I have no money to make sculptures so I’m taking photos.” Ahem, my response was more aggressive than I usually am, and is a blog entry for another day.

Liberating the grape vines

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Home alone in Barracas today, working on photos.

Just me and Anita, taking a break to climb for grapes in the garden.