A group of fourteen foreign people has arrived into the cultural scene, they landed at the Centro Cultural Recoleta and they are intervening the white walls as if they knew exactly how to. One of them is disguising the humidity by adding glued paper all around the stains. One boy has played with painted spoons and plastic glasses, creating a surreal scene on the floor. Another one has projected a drawing on one of the walls and then worked on it. Two of the girls photographed a whole day in Buenos Aires, performing a sort of dialogue through their images. The others came with little sculptures, more photos and paintings. Everything is there, inside a not so big room. Somehow, the place looks bigger; it is colorful and reflects its own light, with art pieces that surely speak by themselves.
The Argentinean one, Gabriel Glaiman, who’s a painter himself and shows his own work here, too, was the person who brought the group to Buenos Aires.
How did it all begin?
Gabriel: We have a friend who used to have these lovely Italian dinners at his house. He invited all of us and somehow we got along very well with the people in our course, so the idea of the exhibit came up. I was offered the show here in February and I told them to come. We were all studying a post graduate course in Fine Arts in Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design of London.
Were you all friends?
Saskia: We were kind of forced into friendship, out of pure loneliness.
Sigbjorn: Yes, there wasn’t too much space, so we used to work really close to each other.
Tell me about your individual work.
Sigbjorn: I work with installations and painting. The concept is the representation of nature; I try to depict a way of looking at nature through art. What I’m showing now at the museum is based on a tiny drawing that was projected on the wall. I wanted to see the traces of the pen in a big scale. It changes the landscape but is still very accurate. It’s about bringing one place to another place.
Your general project is to do that: bring one place into another place, right?
Gabriel: Yes, or traces, as he said.
Saskia: For me, it isn’t really a place but a persona. My work is about the invention of persona. It is very Los Angeles, though. My place is no place. Most of us have that in common, we travel a lot, we have this journey we take through our lives. Everyone in the group is nomadic in some level.
Sharone: Martina and I are showing here a part of a project called “Daying”; it’s about a conversation within photos. It’s our second year together. We teach each other because we see things in a different way. We go through the same experiences during one day and then show our two points of view. We wanted to do something about Buenos Aires and we happened to be around. It’s very interesting to communicate to people who know that place we saw. It’s fertile for us to see what local people think about what we saw, and for them it is also interesting to see their own place through fresh eyes.
What was the reaction from people?
Saskia: They were fascinated, recognizing places; it’s always interesting when you see something from a stranger’s point of view, that is familiar to you.
It’s like when you do an exhibit of local places in a small town, people only search for places they already know, like their neighbor’s house.
Felipe: I brought two of my pieces here. A small sculpture and a football table. The football team member playing on his own is called “You should see how happy I am since you left me”. I like making metaphorical connections between my work and my personal relations. I compare sports to the competition among people.
Martina: I take documentary photos, I like to walk through the streets and take pictures. The project we do this year is quite the opposite to last year’s, because in London we took pictures of our own space and here we go through the streets of Buenos Aires. Last year we took self-portraits and this year we take portraits of each other, so we’re confronting the city and confronting ourselves.
What would you say is the connection between all of you?
Sigbjorn: We have similar influences and work in the fields of contemporary art, but each of us has different projects.
Saskia: We have a similar critical discourse due to our shared experience. Although we all grew up in different places, for one year we shared the same environment and we developed a similar approach to our work during the course.
Sharone: Yes, I think we are not English and that is something.
Felipe: We went to London looking for new experiences. School was really important; everyone there has influenced me.
Gabriel: What I had in mind when I went to London was finding as much as I could about the artistic field. The interesting part is the contrast between this traditional background and the contemporary art scene.
Sharone: Gabriel went through a big transition. It was interesting to see his work in relation to what happens here. When we came here it all made sense: he brought us here to show us in what kind of background his work emerged.
Gabriel: When I came to Buenos Aires, I got obsessed with keeping track of information of the art scene. This is a way of making it happen, somehow.
Would you say there is a theme in this exhibit?
Sharone: Would you?
Maybe the exhibit is a trip in itself, in which each artist represents a stop.
Saskia: That’s very accurate. The real similarity between our works is that we all are displaced.
Sharone: Traveling gives us the possibility to see what belongs to us, and what does not.
Gabriel: I think traveling is a way of negotiating things with yourself. For me, this show is like an intervention: to drop a group of artists in an institutional place and see what happens.
Sharone: More people will see our work here in one month than in the rest of our lives! There are so many people here; it’s an amazing opportunity to show our work to a very wide audience.
We keep on talking about contemporary art and London, and subjectivism and objectivism. Everyone gets involved in the conversation until we have to leave and then we exchange emails and we keep on talking, while more people transit in front of the art pieces.
They are still brightening the place.
Transit (x – lon – ba)
Group exhibit London- Buenos Aires
Date: 11th March – 11th April 2004
Place: Centro Cultural Recoleta, Room 5
Addess: Junin 1930- Buenos Aires
The artists are: Mark Beldan, Isha Bohling, Sigbjorn Bratlie, Felipe Cravo, Martine Feipel, Gabriel Glaiman, Isabel Ivars, Martina Jenne, Maria Klabin, Sharone Lifschitz, Hugh Mc Carthy, Milan Milosavljevic, Anela Sabic and Saskia Wilson Brown