Ars memorativa

We have just recently come back from Buenos Aires. It was a journey of which we have so much to say that we have not yet found out where to start. And it is high time, because time is inexorably running, a new year has risen, and we do not want our memories to fade or rust. Although time is also able to do just the opposite with memories: to exalt them, to recycle them and to give them a glare and a persistence that marks them as valuables or knickknacks. It is not easy to predict what will be treasured and what will be discarded by our memory. And time also composes new, more complete objects of the debris within our head, and it constructs narratives where originally there were only scenes.

Just a humble example. On the way back from Azul to Buenos Aires, after just some five kilometers we stopped to eat at a restaurant called “Punto Argentino”, near to a field where guanacos were grazing. Here we met Juan Bautista who shapes out of pieces of scrap fabulous or long extinct animals as well as machines of inextricable function.

Juan Bautista. Sculptures of scrap iron

This bike which seems to be unearthed from the future naturally brings to mind the bicycles of the Knights of the Sun and the Moon about which we have talked in a previous post. And it is also close to the remake or counterfeit toys prepared by our friend Miquel Àngel Llonovoy in his unusual museum.

We got back to Buenos Aires with these fresh images on our mind, and only when we took stock of the past days, we realized their similarity to the ones we had seen before in Azul: the figures in the quixotic park of Carlos Regazzoni, composed of old iron, twisted bed frames, car bonnets, nuts, cranks, pipes, radiators and nails.

Azul on the pampa to the southwest of Buenos Aires is an interesting city for many reasons. In 2007 it was declared “Argentina’s City of Cervantes”. This square extends on the outskirts of the city, along the creek Azul, under the vast blue sky of the pampa. In the previous days we participated at the Second International Conference of Cervantes in an environment so passionate about the work of Cervantes that it even transformed by magic the pampa into the plains of La Mancha. Well, of this city we will surely have to write later.

“…one of those gentlemen who usually keep a lance upon a rack, an old buckler, a lean horse, and a coursing greyhound”

Julia observes with justifiable fear the armored Dulcinea.

“There goes Sancho on his nag.”

We have concluded that this region of the country displays a special attraction to scrap sculpture. But as now, some two months after coming home, we thought back on those works of art, we have suddenly remembered the exhibition catalog we bought at MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires) where we spent good times both in the exhibition rooms and in the library. The catalog has some sculptures by renowned artist Antonio Berni which constitute a worthy terminus to this journey that we have done unaware through the recycled art of Argentine. These frightful hybrid monsters made of wood, door handles, rivets, washers, toilet seats, boxes, wicker baskets, roots certainly occupy an illustrious place on the pedigree of the above seen scrap iron sculptures

Hypocrisy or The interplanetary monsters vying for Ramona (1964)

Squalor (1965)

Menacing bird (1965)

The victorious worm or The triumph of death (1965)

Voilà, an unexpected story within that other big story of the journey to Buenos Aires whose construction we still do not know with which piece to start.

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