Buckets of BA culture

Given the amount of time we have had in BA and the amount of cultural festivals that have been on whilst we have been here, we have lapped up as many of the museums and shows as we could, too many to write about but below are some of the highlights;

Museo de Arte Latinoamerican de Buenos Aires (MALBA) – by far my favourite art exhibition to date. I am not usually a fan of modern art, however this place had some of the best 20th century art i have seen. I am not usually a fan of modern art since its usually things like a dirty unmade bed or a series of splashes or dots that my niece could have done.

First was the life’s work of Carlos Cruz-Diez who I had never even heard of before; ignorantly thinking that it would be great to buy a piece (since found out they go for 50K). He is one of the most famous Venezuelan artist of our time and is what I have since learnt part of the ‘kinetic’ movement, which means quite literally that, movement.

These pieces of work actually move with you and are very clever since they look different from every angle. He is also a huge fan of colour making it all in all a very camp exhibition ( quite ironic since that day was also Gay Pride in BA). The one thing that wasn’t so camp were the bad shoes we had to wear to see an interactive installation…at least there was something for the lesbians too!

The staff there however, are your classic modern art lovers, hugely stuck up and pretentious so you could imagine how much fun we had taking sneaking pictures whilst the ladies weren’t looking ( Andre did get told of a number of times…thankfully no one saw our attempts at our jumping pics…childish I know but quite funny when doing it).

The other exhibit was Modernisms and Avant-gardes, which was perfect, since it took us through the whole history of Modern art from 1910 right through to the present day, exactly what use two novices needed.

This was a little more serious, so a little harder to take photos but we saw some truly amazing pieces that even I recognised; Abaporu by Trasila do Amaral and Antonio Berni’s Manifestacion to name a few. It too had something for the lesbians the famous Autorretrato con chango y loro by Frida Kahlo..although this was fiercely guarded by the angry lesbian so we couldn´t take a pic…sorry Jo!

Another highlight was a show we were lucky to see called El Hombre Vertiente. Initially we thought it was done by the same people who did Fuerza Bruta which showed at the roundhouse Camden a couple of years back. It’s a very similar style but 10x better…really was the best show I had ever seen. If it goes global, which I am sure it will, you must see it even if you don’t like the theatre.

Our videos are too long and pictures don’t do it justice so google it!

The jazz festival was a week long affair with free performances all over the city, although we tended to prefer the vocal performances rather the purely instrumental ones; I just don’ think I will ever truly get the jazz thing.

Other more traditional Argentine cultural things that need to be mentioned are the Argentines love of Matte and coffee.

Given the number of Italian immigrants here, there really is a coffee culture that is just as important as it is back in Italy, (although the espresso is nowhere near as strong as in Italy) people can spend hours sipping way chatting. You will notice that they never walk with coffee, it’s too important to rush, so the only people you see drinking Starbucks of which unfortunately there are a few, are tourists. That said, the shops are lot more swanky than in the UK since the suites in Starbucks have realised that the usual model just wouldn’t work out here.

Matte on the other has much more traditional roots and an integral part of their culture and more a ritual. It’s basically a form of green tea but there is a very specific way of drinking it with particular equipment required. The cup (also called Matte) is filled with Yerba mate (dried) first then with water which has to be just below boiling temp. Once prepared it is drunk from a silver straw called bombilla.

Everyone carries this apparatus with them daily along with a flask stopping numerous times a day to drink it. It’s also considered rude to decline someone’s offer to share it with you which they all do as a matter of course.

La Bomba de Tiempo was also an interesting weekly concert held in an old warehouse and is a purely drum based orchestra with roots in samba. It’s more popular with the younger generation and backpackers as well as strange hippies that dance like they are on acid.

Finally, I have to mention the dogs…everyone has one which unfortunately means there is shit all over the streets and pavements (not great in flip`flops!). Given that most people work, there are hundreds of professional dog walkers that walk an insane amount of dogs at any one time.


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