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PLACEText: Gisella Lifchitz

Located in a tourist and traditional neighborhood called San Telmo, the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires (MAMBA) building reminds us of the Middle East architectural style. In San Telmo, we can see the cohabitation of all kinds of people, cultures, stories, shops and lifestyles. The neighborhood is new and original even to us, the locals. Walking along the streets of San Telmo is like recognizing ourselves as part of the same tradition. The “empedrado” of the streets, the bright colors of the houses and the antique sales do not only attract the occasional tourist but they also delight everyone that passes nearby.

One of the main objectives of Mamba is to increase the permanent collection of Argentine industrial design pieces. In this exhibit, we have found a number of pieces as a result of citizen donations. Others are recuperations from the last decades, the majority of them are from the eighties and nineties and graduated young designers created them.

Local architect Ricardo Blanco has curated this exhibit. He comments, “Our intention is to demonstrate that those anonymous objects have the paternity of Argentine professionals. The ovens, the kitchens, the furniture, the lights begin to occupy an everyday place in our Museum, and that”s the value of industrial design, which we must see as a part of our real material culture that we generate every day. It’s not just a piece of art”.

The kind of products inside the exhibit is varied: we find complex technology and also everyday massively elaborated objects. In the last five years, young industrial designers began to produce their own designs, forcing the industry to follow them. This process has generated an urban phenomenon, such as the growth of entire neighborhoods with an orientation towards design. San Telmo and Palermo Viejo are some interesting examples of this.

San Telmo is a “barrio” (neighborhood in Spanish); this means it portrays the aspect and idiosyncrasy of the people”s inner culture and history. This neighborhood is more “portenio”, closer to tango and popular roots. Everything is older, the history revisits in the present. The artists cohabit with the ladies who clean their houses, the local bartender, the big flow of tourists and the metro salesmen.

The aesthetics would be like a Federico Fellini movie. You can be an artist and have your pictures exposed in a little space while you eat the cheapest slice of pizza and visit the studios of your friends, the painters and photographers who live nearby. The lifestyle is bohemian and locally nostalgic. In the last couple of years, San Telmo opened up and could naturally mix art, everyday life and historic identity.

Actually, it is not by chance that the Mamba is located in San Telmo. Likewise, it is not by hazard that this chronological exhibit resides inside the Mamba. It is there because it’s a reflection of Buenos Aires.

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