May 17, 2011 ·

Buenos Aires: The City That Sucks You In


Robert Doisneau

A lot of visitors who have set foot in Buenos Aires, they always grow very fond of the city and develop this great attachment to it, including myself. It’s quite common for a tourist to keep changing his return flights and extending his stay. The most interesting observation is that it absolutely has nothing to do with how fluent one is with Spanish. Of course, the more you can communicate the more fluid the transition. However, the attraction does not stem from how much you can understand, and one still gets suck in! That always makes me wonder why and how Buenos Aires has such a magic pull. After dissecting all the possibilities and eliminating all the superficial reasoning, I think it has to do with something ‘universal’ which everyone can feel and share, something that makes one feel connected in some way; thus, fills up the hollowness which, to me, exists in many other big cities that I’ve been to.

This universal something that I am referring to is arts. Buenos Aires has a very rich culture in arts where they are very accessible. We have many big and small museums showcasing traditional paintings to contemporary installations, they are all amazing but are obviously the basic requirements for an artsy city. So, that’s not just it. What I think really make the difference is how they just blend into your daily life. There are many beautiful statues majestically standing in the middle of big avenues or in parks. On weekends, one of the cool things to do is to hang out at the market fairs, enjoying all the unique one-of-a-kind local arts and crafts. As you walk around the city, you’d often come across some cultural centers or galleries that are open to public for free with incredible exhibitions. As an example, currently at the Centro Cultural Recoleta until June 26, 2011, is the exhibition of the famous French photographer Robert Doisneau. It showcases more than 100 original pictures including the well-known “Baiser de l’Hotel de Ville” (as seen in picture). This was something I just randomly encountered as I roamed around in Recoleta, how amazing was that!

Street art also plays a big part in Buenos Aires art culture. When graffiti is considered as an act of vandalism in most places, do you know it’s legal here in Buenos Aires? It is because of that, we not only have lots of budding graffiti artists, there are galleries and studios selling miniature copies of their works, there are graffiti tours for visitors, and there are books and TV programs about the creators and their creations.

This coming week also is the start of 2 of the most popular annual art-related special events in the city. They are ArteBA and Purodiseño. ArteBA is not simply where all the galleries and studios group together to display artworks, but they present an opportunity to see things differently. A lot of the display require you to interact and participate. Purodiseño focuses on innovative designs for practical everyday products from furniture to accessories to food. They also have our world in mind by highlighting various green designs by having special thematic display like ‘Puroverde‘ (“PureGreen”)and ‘Museo Sustentable‘ (“Sustainable Museum”). Both of these fairs start this Thursday May 19 and only last less than a week.

I believe it is the way the city embraces and encourages the art culture that different types of artistic spirit can easily be felt in every corner of the city. Thus, the accessibility and the practicality of it all, art is no longer a heavy abstract subject and definitely not a one-way appreciation but a means to create and to feel together, and be connected in some way at an emotional level that touches something inside. May be that is where the soul of a city begins?


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