02 May 2008

May Day and around

Like I said yesterday, May Day is like a Sunday over here, or it felt like that to me. So maybe it was appropriate for me to post pictures of churches! Of course, I only take pictures of churches from the outside, or else get inside only to snap a few shots.

Labour Day being like Sunday, it was only logical that it and the days before felt like weekend. I don't really have an entertainment schedule on weekdays, because I have to wake up very early to get to work in time, so I can't have a late dinner or stay up after, say, midnight. And I need siesta — a nap, sometimes an hour, an hour and a half, to fill in my daily 8-hour sleep quota.

Last Tuesday, however, I left the office and, feeling that going home would be a waste of a precious sunny afternoon, I went downtown to the Centre Català to visit a model ship exhibition (it was the last day). The lady in charge told me that I had to come after 5 PM. It was 1:30, so I crossed it off. In the meantime, though, I'd passed by a library and bought a book about the evolution of human food habits by Juan Luis Arsuaga, short, at a discounted price. Interesting reading, not dense at all. I have another one of Arsuaga's books, El collar del neandertal, a longer study of the Neandertals he and others studied in Atapuerca, a massive fossil reservoir in Spain. He writes simply, for the general public, yet showing no signs of struggling to popularize (or dumb down) the technical subjects.

After that I proceeded to the local seat of the government of Santa Fe, a massive building that takes up a whole block. In the past it served as a jail, as the police headquarters, and as an illegal detention center during the last dictatorship. Then the government took most of it, a part was set aside as a memorial museum, another section was turned into municipal offices, another one was turned into the new seat of the Natural Sciences Museum (the previous one burned down), and the huge central courtyard was turned into a public square (Plaza Cívica). There's a lot of space still unoccupied, or mostly unused.

I went there to visit a photojournalism exhibition — journalistic pictures taken in Argentina (and around) in 2006. It wasn't the last day to see them, but Wednesday was, and the visiting hours were really inconvenient. That's why Marisa missed it, and I went by myself at 2 PM, when everybody else was either having lunch or already taking a nap or working. It was a fairly large sample. It opened with a very significant picture of the recent past, the infamous shot of Alfredo Yabrán taken on the beach by José Luis Cabezas which probably cost the latter his life. The opening photograph for 2006 was a shot of Julio López facing a policeman, somewhere in court, during the trial of Miguel Etchecolatz. López disappeared, probably kidnapped by (former?) members of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police, the same organization that Etchecolatz used to command and that abducted and tortured López and hundreds of others back in the late 1970s.

The rest of the pictures were varied: a visual document of the ecological disaster that is the basin of the Riachuelo; scenes from the re-burial of Juan Domingo Perón when gangs of members of different unions attacked each other; candid pictures of famous idols/characters (Diego Maradona, Mirtha Legrand, Charly García); poor children washing car windows in Buenos Aires; people who make a living scavenging for food in a trash dump on a daily basis; Evo Morales taking office as president of Bolivia in traditional indigenous garb; Jorge Telerman celebrating something; a woman threatening to kill herself with a knife; penguins in Antarctica; a picture of the Payún Matru volcano in Malargüe, Mendoza, composed exactly the same as one I took last January... I must have been one hour in there. Then I walked around, went up to the third floor, and took more pictures.

In the end I got back home after 4 PM, ravenously hungry and terribly tired. It was too late for a nap. I had to wait till Wednesday for that, and then I could only lie down for an hour; then I met Marisa to go and see another photo exhibition, this time at the Bernardino Rivadavia Cultural Center. It was a very nice sample of black-and-white pictures by Peruvian photographers: study takes of young ladies, a few nudes, pictures of miners, a bishop, a nun, families in their homes, Machu Picchu, doctors, acrobats, funerals, carnival celebrations, indigenous women and men in the Andes, very young drafted soldiers.

I would've liked to see and work with the cameras of those times. The pictures were large but had a definition that digital cameras are attaining only now, and then only if you have the luck to find a good photography shop to print your pictures as they're supposed to be printed.

We topped off the "weekend" with a "Back to the Eighties" party in a disco that used to be in fashion for young teenagers when I was one. It was fun for me to hear all those international hits again, but we discovered we're not made for this. I've always been bothered by the overcrowded, smoke-filled, noise-saturated environment of popular discos, but this time Marisa and I felt it was too much, and our adventure ended soon... True, we'd had no suitable rest, but at 3:30 AM we were so tired we had to leave. A couple of years ago I would've been ashamed of myself if I left a party before it closed down, and furious if someone dared close it down before 5 AM. Sic transit...

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