A photoblog with large images of Buenos Aires - Active 2008 - 2011
A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to report on a story for the Argentimes concerning a furniture workshop in Villa 20, an informal slum in the neighborhood of Villa Lugano. The organization is called Amistad o Nada and their concept is to produce furniture, mainly chairs, using recycled wood. The workers are unemployed residents of the villa and the finished product is sold in an art gallery in a posh section of Palermo as well as over the internet. The article recently went up on The Argentimes' website and will be appearing in the print edition that's being distributed this weekend. Also with us that day were reporters from Critica, here's a link to their article about the project [in Spanish].
In this post are some additional photos I took that day. In the photo above, Chamorro, the guy who owns the workshop applies varnish to one of the chairs.
Here's a big stack of the chairs. I wasn't impressed with the quality of the work. I was expecting an artisanal labor of love but actually these chairs are very concept driven. The design was found on the internet by the founders of the organization and had the idea to construct the chairs in a villa.
Chamorro again. He's from Paraguay originally, lived in Brazil for a number of years before ending up in Buenos Aires a couple of decades ago. He was a very gracious host for us and had endless stories to tell.
Here's a view of the Villa. For those who don't know Villa is the local term for an informal settlement or slum, similar to favelas in Brazil, shantytowns in South Africa, pueblos jovenes in Peru, etc. Villa 20 is fairly established as slums go, the houses have electricity and running water. On the periphery of the villa the government has constructed a new sports center, housing and schools. The organizers of the group said they chose Villa 20 due to its relative safety. Relative is key. I would not have entered the place alone. I'm fascinated by villas not so much by their poverty [which in this case wasn't very extreme] but by the alternative structures by which the neighborhood is organized. Hernando De Soto and Robert Neuwirth have written great books on the [self] organization of these settlements worldwide and I'd recommend reading them. Of course "alternative structures" is a fancy way of saying the laws of the outside world often don't apply. Frequently even police won't enter the villas so going in alone, without the sponsor of someone from the neighborhood is not a good idea. In our case we had Martín Roisi, a TV producer who runs an arts organization in the villa and, we found out, is a cumbia singer known as Fantasma X.
They prepared an asado of chorizos for us as well.
The main street in the villa.
Manzana 13, Casa 13, the adress of a random house, very well done.
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Copyright © 2012 by Thomas Locke Hobbs. All rights reserved.
Thanks for visiting this blog. I'm an American living in Buenos Aires since Feb. 2008 but I also lived here in 1993, 1999 and 2000. If you think I've misrepresented something, please leave a comment [hablo castellano]. I don't update this site much anymore but please visit my personal site. I still take pictures like crazy.
If you would like to use an image or get a full resolution version please email me at thobbs at gmail dot com.