to human rights ferrari

Parque de la Memoria ( Memory Park) is unique in symbolism and unique among the eclectic mix of parks and green spaces in Buenos Aires. Carlos Thays planned most of the 19 – 20 C parks during the initial growth of this city as the capital of a large country facing industrialisation. In recent years, more contemporary open spaces have been slotted into post industrial developments such as Puerto Madero, along the Plata underlining the growth in the economy and changes in social requirements. Many of the new parks and urban spaces integrate abstract sculptures – this park has eight visually powerful pieces conceived and created within a broad collective theme of  Human Rights. This is not only a park but also a monument to the tens of thousands of Argentines that disappeared during the military dictatorships that spanned 14 years. It’s fitting that the site chosen is by the river believed to be the final resting place of many of the disappeared and also that it is adjacent to the University that many victims were associated with.

entrance

The main access is uncompromising in its bleakness  – an immediate wake up call to the rationale behind the design – but transforms itself well into a user friendly open classroom when the young inhabit the park . . . .

monument to escape  oppenheim 2

monument to escape oppenheim

light line

. .  distant horizons are incorporated into the linear framework. The river is wide here but the sense of the opposite shore, Uruguay, is strong although too distant visually –  the seen and the unseen. The personal memorial to those ‘lost’ is a series of concrete walls that vary in angle, height and length and define spaces that are sharply angled and sloping.  The names of those that disappeared during the dictatorships are carved into bricks attached to the walls making a textured surface that contributes to a sense of discomfort, tension and sadness – all suitable.

wall 1

wall education

wall 2

The planting is chosen to underscore the symbolism as well as compliment the architectural feel of the park. A bosque of red budded Erythrina crista-galli, the national tree, and well able to cope with the harsh river side conditions plus the lack of management, stand in a asymmetrical group.

the square

bosque of erythrina crista-galli  (ceibos)

ceiba speciosa

Areas of grass are left long perhaps to discourage active play – a creeping geranium tinged the sward with a flush of pink similar in tone to the spectacular flowers on the Ceiba speciosa  . . . . .

geranium sanguineum meadow

memory signs  grupo de arte callejero

. . .  one installation that demands attention is the arc of 53 signs. Traffic signs that have become a visual language here display  information as though on a route through Argentina’s recent history of state terrorism (Grupo de Arte Callejero). . . .

sign 1

sign 2

sign 3

sign 4

. . . and the dreaded Ford Falcon.

pier to east

The park spreads out into the river in a wide arc enabling immediate connection with the water as well as opportunities to gaze, rest and reflect.

rio de la plata

Pablo Miguez disappeared at the age of 14. This sculpture by Claudia Fontes was conceived specifically for this siting in the Rio de la Plata. If Pablo had survived he would be the same age today as the sculptor.

reconstruction of the portrait of Pablo Miguez  fontes

Libre de la memoria y de la esperanza,
ilimitado, abstracto, casi futuro,
el muerto no es un muerto:  es la muerte.
Como el Díos de los místicos
de Quien deben negarse todos los predicados,
el muerto ubicuamente ajeno
no es sino la perdición y ausencia del mundo.
Todo se lo robamos,
no le dejamos ni un color ni una sílaba:
aquí está el patio que ya no comparten sus ojos,
allí la acera donde acechó su esperanza.
Aun lo que pensamos
podría estar pensándolo él;

nos hemos repartido como ladrones

el caudal de las noches y de los días.

Free of memory and of hope,
limitless, abstract, almost future,
the dead man is not a dead man: he is death.
Like the God of the mystics,
of Whom anything that could be said must be denied,
the dead one, alien everywhere,
is but the ruin and absence of the world.
We rob him of everything,
we leave him not so much as a color or syllable:
here, the courtyard which his eyes no longer see,
there, the sidewalk where his hope lay in wait.
Even what we are thinking,
he could be thinking;

we have divvied up like thieves

the booty of nights and days.

Jorge Luis Borges Remordimiento Por Cualquier Muerte

14lago argentina 1

Small jetties stretch into Bahia Redondo of Lago Argentina laying west of the centre of El Calafate. The town is small in relation to the size of the lago – and nowhere near as interesting but then it doesn’t purport to be anything but a base for visitors exploring the glaciers. I’ve looked at these images many times and resisted using them in a post mainly as I have a feeling that pics are done and dusted when added to the narrative . . .  don’t want to let these go . . .

1ago argentina

. . . Laguna Nimez and Laguna Secondaria gently embrace the marshland and the dune landscape of the nature reserve in an organic formation and, in quiet contrast, to the urban grid of the paths, roads and the geometric building mass of the town. We came across this young lad smothered in a patch of anthemis covering land destined for development  . . . .

2lago argentina 2

2.5calafate

. . . and then immersed ourselves in the wetland area  – with these larger inhabitants.

3marsh

4horses

Typical vegetation of Berberis heterophyllus and ‘neneo’ Mulinum spinosum. The small furry foliage of Senecio patagonicus forms the ground cover. El Calafate was named after the berberis (calafate) bush  – the landmark plant where the stage coach stopped.

5berberis + mulinum

Calafate puro or jam is totally delicious and makes a good ingredient for ice cream. Song birds and small rodents feed on the berries too. So bog standard berberis that we use freely in supermarket planting schemes has, after all, a more personal quality. Good.

calafate puro 2

5.5nimez lagoon 4

Without resorting to lists – Snipe, Chilean flamingoes and black necked swans pad about and dip their beaks and necks into this watery ecosystem and the rush bird is also active within the reeds.  Finches, sparrows, wrens  and mockingbirds find protection amongst the calafate bushes. It is a list of course.

6nimez lagoon 5

7lago birds

8bird

Rather out of focus but fitting in with the colour background is a long tailed meadowlark.  A pair of young buzzards scan the ground for promising food. Other things fly here . . .

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10nimez lagoon 1

. .   and early snow  cover sits on the peaks in the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park to the north.

11nimez lagoon 2

12nimez lagoon 3

Hummingbirds and blackbirds and two great poets. Poems to read and absorb in tough times.

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And then there was St Kevin and the blackbird.
The saint is kneeling, arms stretched out, inside
His cell, but the cell is narrow, so

One turned-up palm is out the window, stiff
As a crossbeam, when a blackbird lands
and Lays in it and settles down to nest.

Kevin feels the warm eggs, the small breast, the tucked
Neat head and claws and, finding himself linked
Into the network of eternal life,

Is moved to pity: now he must hold his hand
Like a branch out in the sun and rain for weeks
Until the young are hatched and fledged and flown.

*

And since the whole thing’s imagined anyhow,
Imagine being Kevin. Which is he?
Self-forgetful or in agony all the time

From the neck on out down through his hurting forearms?
Are his fingers sleeping? Does he still feel his knees?
Or has the shut-eyed blank of underearth

Crept up through him? Is there distance in his head?
Alone and mirrored clear in love’s deep river,
‘To labour and not to seek reward,’ he prays,

A prayer his body makes entirely
For he has forgotten self, forgotten bird
And on the riverbank forgotten the river’s name.

Seamus Heaney   St Kevin and the blackbird

The hummingbird
in flight
is a water-spark,
an incandescent drip
of American
fire,
the jungle’s
flaming resume,
a heavenly,
precise
rainbow:
the hummingbird is
an arc,
a golden
thread,
a green
bonfire!

Oh
tiny
living
lightning,
when
you hover
in the air,
you are
a body of pollen,
a feather
or hot coal,
I ask you:
What is your substance?
Perhaps during the blind age
of the Deluge,
within fertility’s
mud,
when the rose
crystallized
in an anthracite fist,
and metals matriculated
each one in
a secret gallery
perhaps then
from a wounded reptile
some fragment rolled,
a golden atom,
the last cosmic scale,
a drop of terrestrial fire
took flight,
suspending your splendor,
your iridescent,
swift sapphire.

You doze
on a nut,
fit into a diminutive blossom;
you are an arrow,
a pattern,
a coat-of-arms,
honey’s vibrato, pollen’s ray;
you are so stouthearted–
the falcon
with his black plumage
does not daunt you:
you pirouette,
a light within the light,
air within the air.
Wrapped in your wings,
you penetrate the sheath
of a quivering flower,
not fearing
that her nuptial honey
may take off your head!

From scarlet to dusty gold,

to yellow flames,
to the rare
ashen emerald,
to the orange and black velvet
of our girdle gilded by sunflowers,
to the sketch
like
amber thorns,
your Epiphany,
little supreme being,
you are a miracle,
shimmering
from torrid California
to Patagonia’s whistling,
bitter wind.
You are a sun-seed,
plumed
fire,
a miniature
flag
in flight,
a petal of silenced nations,
a syllable
of buried blood,
a feather
of an ancient heart,
submerged. Pablo Neruda  Ode to the Humminbird

1road out of el calafate

This view of the road from El Calafate going west into Parque Nacional de los Glaciares reminds me of the poster for  Thelma and Louise. What lies over the hill and round the bends? We chose to visit the Glaciar Perito Moreno about 80 kms from town. Glaciers – well, of course, I’d seen all the info on the web about the ice cap that spreads across Chile, the Andes and into Santa Cruz and, also have a vague memory of a ski guide pointing out a far off glacier in the Alps. Round each bend the sense of expectation grew . . . .

2 first sight

. . . until at last.

4 closer to

The guide books describe it as ‘a long white tongue’. Good description. You can get close by boat – just discernible in the image below  – but we chose to get straight onto the series of platforms and connecting walkways – steps + ramps –  that enable a decent, 3 km,  journey through the Nothofagus woodland covering the end of the Peninsula Magellanes.

3 closer to glacier

5 stairways

6 lengas + nires

Nothofagus pumilio (lenga) and N. antartica (ńires) but I couldn’t identify one from the other . . .

7 lenga + nires

. . . we learnt that this is the only glacier in the National Park that is not receding but is growing.  At the terminus, the width is 5 kms in width and 74m high above the surface of the water of Lago Argentino and the total ice depth here is 170 metres. Data that gives an idea of the scale. Further north at El Chalten, it’s possible to trek on the ice from October to April. The lack of figures in these pics indicates end of season – great for us!

8 canal de los Tempanos

9 canal

Views across the Canal de los Tempanos are accompanied with a sound track of cracking sounds, as the ice breaks away, and then, the deep crashing noise as ice hits water.

9.5

11 along the front

So blue . . . this occurs when snow falls on a glacier, is compressed, and becomes part of the glacier. During the journey down to the water body, the trapped air bubbles are squeezed out and so the size of the crystals increase making it clear. One of us thought it looked a bit dirty . . .  but then landscapes are . . .

10 close up

14 close up

15 close up

12 close up

13 close up

16 stand back

. .  we took off on the north path where the wind whistled through the narrow channels and, consequently, we lost most of our fellow visitors. It started raining and if the wind had been stronger, it would have been a difficult exercise.

17 off to walk

This was probably the most atmospheric and magical part of the experience for me. Taxing on the leg muscles and slightly desolate but the route provided a strong connection with the landscape.

18 looking back

Back to the main platform and a final inhalation of great pure air. ‘Take a long look. It might be the last’.

19 panorama

20 last

The silent friendliness of the moon

(misquoting Virgil) accompanies you

since that one night or evening lost

in time now, on which your restless

eyes first deciphered her forever

in a garden or patio turned to dust.

Forever? I know someone, someday

will be able to tell you truthfully:

‘You’ll never see the bright moon again,

You’ve now achieved the unalterable

sum of moments granted you by fate.

Useless to open every window

in the world. Too late. You’ll not find her.’

We live discovering and forgetting

that sweet familiarity of the night.

Take a long look. It might be the last.  Jorge Luis Borges  The Sum

wall art in the city

April 14, 2013

p bridge 2

A sunny day in the UK – colour. light and smiles on faces – reminds me of more exotic places. In the Palermo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, both of the walls under the railway bridge are covered with wall art. One side is a colourful display of figures and street life making a background to a very good stall selling fruit and vegetables . . . .

p bridge stall

. . .  on the other, a dramatic scenario with large animals cavorting over what looks like a patchwork quilt.

p bridge 3

p bridge 4

At the junction, there’s a seating area with plenty of space for both passersby and those that wish to take a few minutes to rest. The gentleman on the right has nodded off. We couldn’t dally as we were rushing off to Palermo Hollywood to seek out a repair shop . . .

1 seating

doorway

. . .  which we found here in this rather beautiful building.

doorway 2

Wandering back, this piece of wall art took my eye as well as the vehicle, an old Renault, parked alongside.

word art

car

I guess our journey to and fro had taken about an hour.  Back at the seating area, the gentleman was still dozing, so I presume that the seats are comfy as well as quite jolly . . . .

seating

seating 2

. . . just a few more  images of how to enliven surfaces with freedom of expression. Some with a message and some as pure visual treats. I miss it.

palermo

04

wall art

We are the time. We are the famous

metaphor from Heraclitus the Obscure.

We are the water, not the hard diamond,

the one that is lost, not the one that stands still.

We are the river and we are that greek

that looks himself into the river. His reflection

changes into the waters of the changing mirror,

into the crystal that changes like the fire.

We are the vain predetermined river,

in his travel to his sea.

The shadows have surrounded him.

Everything said goodbye to us, everything goes away.

Memory does not stamp his own coin.

However, there is something that stays

however, there is something that bemoans.

Jorge Luis Borges  We are the Time  We are the Famous

tree cosies

April 12, 2013

house bariloche

San Carlos de Bariloche is a colourful place. It’s a mecca for tourists in summer time for activities on and associated with the Nahuel Huapi lake, as well as, in winter for skiing. The name is a combination of  “Carlos Wiederhold”, who settled down the first general store in the area (that is what “San Carlos” stands for), and a deformation of the word “vuriloche” (“different people, people from the back or from the other side”), used by the Mapuche people to refer to other native dwellers from the eastern zone of the Andes Mountain Range before their own arrival in this region. Not only are the buildings brightly coloured, the  ‘elastic bandages’ around the tree stems are of the same ilk. I hadn’t come across ‘tea cosies’ before but this is what they are called.

cosy 8

cosy 7

Many threads of differing colours.

cosy 6

cosy 5

The canopies are changing to autumn tones – fruits, berries and foliage – somehow creating an even more ‘surgical’ overall look with the bandaging of the main stem. The sorbus trees look glorious however.

cosy 4

cosy3

sorbus

ceibo speciosa 1

In the capital, lovely blossoms on Ceiba speiosa or the Silk Floss Tree. The common name is palo borracho or drunken stick. Open pods follow the pink flowers showing silk-like fibers that give the tree its name.

ceibo speciosa 3

And to finish, a short from Spike Milligan.

002

‘I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree’.

en la cuidad

April 8, 2013

photo copy

Back in the capital after days in more remote and rural areas – Patagonia and El Calafate in Santa Cruz (posts to follow) – the panorama from Sinclair 3168 takes in the Rey Fahd mosque  with the Campo Argentino de Polo beyond. I had forgotten how the street trees are so imposing, also giving shade and the canopies giving a little breeze as well as adding something organic to the city fabric. Planes, acacias, tipa, jacaranda and  limes plus other more exotic species line the pavements . . . .

03

08

05

07

. . .   trees accentuate the cross axes and the junctions in Palermo Viejo, with their canopies spreading over the street cafes, bars and restaurants.

10

The facades of buildings, both old and new, are quite particular. I like the mix of some to revere and a few to smile at and with.

01

02

06

09

11

Tomorrow, a closer look at wall art , more decorative and with a narrative than graffiti, and the Parque de la Memoria.

04

12

At the crossroads of Calle Gurruchaga, we stopped for a while and watched the local clown perform and entertain – great fun . . . .

13

14

15

. . . and then back to sleep in a decent bed – bliss after nights on buses – and last glimpse at the city closing down –  looks quite delicious. Too tired to write any more so leave Borges to finish off.

16

The forms in my dreams have changed;

now there are red houses side by side

and the delicate bronze of the leaves

and chaste winter and pious wood.

As on the seventh day, the world

is good. In the twilight there persists

what’s almost non-existent, bold, sad,

an ancient murmur of Bibles, war.

Soon (they say) the first snow will fall

America waits for me on every street,

but I feel in the decline of evening

today so long, and yesterday so brief

Buenos Aires, I go journeying

your streets, without time or reason. Borges  New England 1967

 

en movimiento

April 2, 2013

en moviemento01

Long journeys are a time for reflection. I rather enjoy the passivity of lounging around airport lounges, listening to music, people watching, reading and generally taking a view on areas of life. I write lots of notes that I never look at again but, I find this outpouring from my brain and soul, a therapeutic process. However, I’m not so keen on the business of travel connections  – will this flight arrive on time to pick up the next easily?  – will I make it across a city by bus to jump on the right plane? – do I have time to race from one terminal to another ? – this is the part of travelling that I find stressful. At Frankfurt – a very glamorous airport – no hassle and a 6 hour spell spent horizontal on the comfortable loungers that gently ripple and keep the circulation at the right level.

en moviemento02

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Early morning arrival at Buenos Aires – warm and sunny – and a trip across the city to catch the next flight. From the bus, a glimpse of the Plata and some fishing activity  . . .

en moviemento04

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. . . from the terminal building, the proximity of the water makes an appealing landscape whilst inside, a memorial to servicemen who fell in the Malvinas makes me step back and ponder on the reasoning of the placement of this type of monument in such a busy concourse. Perhaps that’s the rationale:  stop and think.

en moviemento06

en moviemento09

Flying above La Pampa, the beauty of the terrain  . . . minimal human interference on the ground but we flying overhead disturb the environment nevertheless.

en moviemento11

The final act is a show stopper – the Andes in full glory.

en moviemento13

Down on the ground, the journey continues after catching up with a special couple. The three of us set off on  The Old Patagonian Express for a short chug along the track through the flat dry landscape around El Maiten and Esquel. It’s a marvel of reconstruction and perseverance .Click to see the video of a derail.

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Marvelling at the fittings and the minuteness of scale, decide that we are heavy, lumpen passengers. It’s time to get back on my feet and move all limbs and breathe in the good air around this tree filled landscape – try to lose the heaviness of the human body. The poem, ah well, somehow arriving by water might have been more exciting. The next leg is 28 hours on a bus . . .

en moviemento21

Here is a coast; here is a harbor;
here, after a meager diet of horizon, is some scenery:
impractically shaped and–who knows?–self-pitying mountains,
sad and harsh beneath their frivolous greenery,

with a little church on top of one. And warehouses,
some of them painted a feeble pink, or blue,
and some tall, uncertain palms. Oh, tourist,
is this how this country is going to answer you

and your immodest demands for a different world,
and a better life, and complete comprehension
of both at last, and immediately,
after eighteen days of suspension?

Finish your breakfast. The tender is coming,
a strange and ancient craft, flying a strange and brilliant rag.
So that’s the flag. I never saw it before.
I somehow never thought of there being a flag,

but of course there was, all along. And coins, I presume,
and paper money; they remain to be seen.
And gingerly now we climb down the ladder backward,
myself and a fellow passenger named Miss Breen,

descending into the midst of twenty-six freighters
waiting to be loaded with green coffee beaus.
Please, boy, do be more careful with that boat hook!
Watch out! Oh! It has caught Miss Breen’s

skirt! There! Miss Breen is about seventy,
a retired police lieutenant, six feet tall,
with beautiful bright blue eyes and a kind expression.
Her home, when she is at home, is in Glens Fall

s, New York. There. We are settled.
The customs officials will speak English, we hope,
and leave us our bourbon and cigarettes.
Ports are necessities, like postage stamps, or soap,

but they seldom seem to care what impression they make,
or, like this, only attempt, since it does not matter,
the unassertive colors of soap, or postage stamps–
wasting away like the former, slipping the way the latter

do when we mail the letters we wrote on the boat,
either because the glue here is very inferior
or because of the heat. We leave Santos at once;
we are driving to the interior. Elizabeth Bishop  Arrival at Santos

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