16 August 2007

Flaneurs benvinguts!

I had promised myself to go check a photo exhibition at the Centre Català that was noted by a fellow photographer. I don't recall ever entering the Centre before; it's a very nice but unremarkable little building on a pothole-ridden Entre Ríos St., right opposite the imponent and very dirty Faculty of Humanities and Art. My dad used to go there to sing in a choir. They have a small café, paintings, nice mosaics on the walls, and a warm Benvinguts ('Welcome') sign. They teach Catalan courses, which I have to try some day because I love how the language sounds. Anyway, the exhibition turned out to be a dozen black-and-white and colour pictures, some interesting, some rather plain. Nothing to go especially there for (is that a weird sentence or not?).

The topic, however, was intriguing. It was flâneur photography, a flâneur being a person that walks around the city to experience it (flâner means 'to stroll' in French). The definition excludes the common tourist and the professional photographer actively trying to get a particular shot, as well as the indifferent citizen. A note on the wall, next to the pictures, remarked that flâneurs are becoming a rare species, given how everybody goes from A to B as quickly as possible and often without a glance sideways, up, or down. I'm an active flâneur whenever I go, so this idea touched me more than the pictures.

City CaféBeing loyal to my newly-named passion, I strolled around a bit and took a few pictures. I'm always amazed at this city — I've been walking the downtown for 15 years and I still "discover" fantastic historical architecture every day just by paying attention. Then I caught a bus, and after a 15-minute ride I got off of it at the Patio de la Madera, where the Rosario Book Fair is being held.

It was a bit better than last year, when I gave it an appalling review. The usual pseudoscience and Da Vinci Code-ish crap was restricted to a few specific spots; there was less fiction and more history books, as well as an inordinate amount of space for Marxist literature and, of course, many books by Roberto Fontanarrosa so that people who never knew who he was when he was alive can now buy them and show them off. Everything was terribly expensive, but that's how it usually is.

There was also a huge scale model of Santa Fe La Vieja, or Cayastá, the site of the first settlement of the city of Santa Fe, which had to be moved because, among other things, the nearby San Javier River had a tendency to eat away parts of the town. The provincial government is campaigning for Santa Fe La Vieja to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which would mean funds for archaeological exploration and preservation.

My personal agenda for this weekend (agenda means 'schedule' or 'appointment book' in Spanish, being more faithful to the original Latin meaning '[things] to be done') is going to the Kite Festival at Scalabrini Ortiz Park, at least one day (it's a Fri-Sat-Sun event). I'll be there for the pictures only... I think haven't flown a kite in 20 years. Recurrent attenders have recommended it highly; there'll be fireworks, model aircraft, and even rokkaku kite (六角凧) fights.

It's a long weekend, since the holiday of August 17, honouring José de San Martín, is moved to Monday, August 20. So I'll have Sunday for roleplaying (if all of my players are healthy — one was attacked by a fierce Mycoplasma last week!), and Monday... we'll see.

1 comment:

  1. You flâner! Kinda sounds vaguely sexual if you don’t understand French (c.f. voyeur). Either that or some kind of culinary occupation.

    I always feel self-conscious about taking pictures while I’m a tourist in a big city, especially when there are lots of people around. And I generally don’t like people in my architectural shots either.

    In a sense, I think I’d rather be part of the experience (as a tourist) rather than an observer. However, I can see that if you are a local then you already are part of the scenery and are photographing it from a different perspective. It’s also difficult if you’re with someone else (who’s not a photographer).

    I was passing a bookstore in my BsAs neighborhood a couple of weeks ago and there was a notice in the window complaining about the price of paper, and how book prices were going to increase dramatically. It’s also disheartening to see the incredible prices for imported books. Is there a tax on imported books, or is this just another example of price gouging?

    I went to the BsAs Book Fair a couple of years ago, and it featured the same kind of commercial crap that you described in Rosario. Most of the exhibitors had nothing more than you could obtain at the bookstores downtown. The only interesting books seemed to be in the small booths of some foreign publishers.

    Nothing to go especially there for (is that a weird sentence or not?).

    I think it’s the placement of the adverb “especially” (interrupting “go there for”). You could move it to the end of the sentence - Nothing to go there for especially, which seems better in an informal register.



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