Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Argentinian Trail

Guest of Honour at this year’s festival was Argentinian artist Leon Ferrari. The exhibition was situated in a church on the main central square in Arles, a perfect location for his work, which is often a scornful comment on religion or politics. In pride of place at the altar of the church was hung a crucifix unlike any other; a figure of Christ as if crucified onto an American warplane. Other works continued in much the same vein, much of the time with use of press photographs or postcards to make up a satirical photograph. Mice and cats featured heavily too…
Unfortunately pictures in the church were forbidden - this crucifix is taken from the web, and doesn't do it justice. It's position at the alter was quite amazing.

Just across the square from this show was an exhibition of photographs taken by Leon’s father, Augusto Ferrari. A photographer in the turn of the 20th century, his work was mainly large format photographs of theatre sets and actors and actresses. Although interesting from a historical context, it was more the environment of this exhibition which was fascinating… a beautiful cloister with ancient tapastries hung on the walls.

More Argentinian photographers were featured in one of the warehouses in the Parc des Ateliers, a cluster of warehouses a short walk from the city centre where trains used to be built (and stored). These buildings are ideal spaces for exhibitions – large and spacious, floating walls can be erected in any manner of ways to create ideal spaces for the work.

Out of this selection of young Argentinian photographers, my favourite by far was a project entitled Mothers of the Disappeared by Marcos Adandia. This project is a series of black and white portraits of elderly women who lost their children during the dictatorship the late 1970’s. As a signal of solidarity and protest, they cover their heads with white linen; a tradition which still occurs to this day. The simplicity and poignancy of this protest is reflected in these portraits, which also portray the sadness and loss. There is a quest here for social justice and human rights, while also honouring the bond of a mother’s love.

Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of this project either, which was wonderfully displayed on a curved wall at the entrance to the exhibition. Instead, here is a pic of the Parc des Ateliers... seemingly desolate, but full of treasures:

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