Argentina, Bye Bye

Makan is back in Amman, adjusting to the new clock and coping with the winter, hanging on to the memories of life in Argentina. The last couple of weeks in Argentina were spent in the centre of one of the most exciting cities in the world: Buenos Aires. Makan found residence in Recoleta, one of the cities many and diverse neighbourhoods, famous for its plazas, street life and the Recoleta cemetery, itself the final residence of many famous figures including Maria Eva Duarte de Perón.



Makan, equipped with books, the internet and endless maps and publications, ventured into the city, enjoying its multi layered architecture, beautiful parks, active street life, the old, the chic, the local, the cosmopolitan, the tourists and that addictive buzz of life; the cultural agenda is so full it was constantly a challenge to locate a play or film, a concert or an exhibit. In the middle of all of that Makan managed to contact several artist collectives and curators working in Buenos Aires and met up with several of them, following are their stories.




As mentioned in earlier posts, Makan took part in a residency in the suburbs of Buenos Aires when arrived to Argentina, following our participation, two other artists took our room Miguel Rodriguez Sepulveda from Mexico and Fernanda Mejia from Colombia both living in Mexico. We attended a performance they organized concluding their residency, it is part of an ongoing performance project that has been taking them for years on a voyage stopping at South American capital cities researching popular symbols and icons in the various contexts. We watched at Miguel stenciled ink paintings on youngsters backs, then took shots of them jogging on spot under very strong lights and eventually sweating through the ink, it running and the paintings changing, at that point, Miguel created stamps by pressing a piece of paper against the sweating ink stain.





Over dinner at the Armenian/Arabic food restaurant Sarkis, we met Graciela Taquini, aside from being a young artist but an established curator she has the best argentine sense of humour, that in a country where the people are quite funny. Over forty years, her rich career includes a wide range of interests and work, including her own art works and publications, television and film projects, exhibition organization and curating and more.  



Through Lucrecia Urbano, the artist who runs the residency “Quien ouede vivir in esta casa” we met the two argentine artists Leo Chiachio and Daniel Giannone. Later we spent an evening with them in their house/studio and met their dog/son Piolin, families come in many forms. Through their present work comprised on large embroidered canvases, they recreate thematic self portraits often with Piolin, a repeated self portrait of what they refer to as the modern family. For more on their work and more on their collection of works by artists dedicated to Piolin:



We spoke of their art work over quilems and meat empanadas and then we walked along Corrientes avenue to treat ourselves to the best helado (ice cream) in town at Cadore. Sitting on a bench licking away cones of these delicacies, we met several of their acquaintances passing by this busy street or coming for a cone themselves.



Just before they left on a truck to explore the world, we met up with artists Federico Geller and Iris of the artist collective Abriendo Caminos. Hands on social and political activists, their work takes many shapes such as illustrated publications, multi media exhibitions, murals and is often placed in the public space addressing socio-political issues and in collaboration with NGO’s, particularly HIJOS. They introduced us to the work of the collective on line as well as the radio and TV projects where a broader range of people take part in making and producing works documenting their lives and telling their stories. Their works can be reviewed on




Having seen their work in Istanbul Biennial in September 2009, we were excited to meet Federico Zukerfeld and Loreto Garin of Etcetera, a group of artists, performers, philosophers and writers which started ten years ago and created within themselves an alternative learning group, social militant activists making public interventions and performances often illustrating their radical social and political views. They have also started the Errorist international movement, celebrating error as a natural course of human development and following curiosity and organic un-dictated paths of adventure and learning. We met them at the Spanish Cultural Centre on Florida Street in the city centre where they took us on a guided tour of a group exhibit they had curated, bringing together works by local and international artists of various media, mostly of social and political intentions approaching topics such as dictatorships, history, and labour using time, reality and the illusive.



The exhibit included a work by argentine artist León Ferrari, born in Buenos Aires in 1920, a prolific artist and major force in the contemporary scene. We later spent an evening in their house/studio, sat around a table, had dinner and spoke of their work and history.


Over tea in Palermo one beautiful afternoon, we met Ana Longoni, a writer and researcher, expert on the art scene in Argentina, its artist collectives and politics. Although her sore throat limited the conversation, we enjoyed a conversation on the local activist arts scene and she drew a context and history for many argentine artist collectives and initiatives.  



So much to say about Buenos Aires, we will not be able to give it justice here, not even close, but will include a little on our introduction to the argentine music. Argentina enjoyed excellent tango, traditional and contemporary, as well as pop and rock most dynamically in Buenos Aires, world famous musicians and bands, many of them, continue to work and explore the infinite potentials of the music developed and created on its streets, in its clubs and tanguerias. We spent two evenings in the company of the Orquesta Tipica Fernandez Fierro and La Bomba de Tiempo. 


We would love to talk about all the little cafes, ancient bars and tanguerias, the chic boutique shops and elegant cobble stone streets, the parks and gardens and Sunday markets, the various galleries, museums and cultural centres, to talk about all the people we met and talked to. In an attempt to bring some of what we saw, felt, ate, and lived in this beautiful city, to share some of the excitement and awe, we cannot but give you a glimpse, a taste, oh, you just have to make the trip yourself.





Argentina so far, so big, so different, already nostalgically looking back, some memories beginning to fade, little souvenirs for friends and family as proof, friendships that count on the internet to keep it alive, aching for the delicious stakes, listening to the music we brought back   while sharing some matte, Argentina, at the risk of sounding cheesy: don’t cry for me Argentina, the truth is I had to leave you, my visa will eventually run out and my family will miss me, and, oh Argentina, the truth is I did cry saying goodbye.