I have to start this entry by saying Happy Birthday to my lovely sister (again). It is still June 25 here in Buenos Aires, and I know she reads my articles and posts regularly. Lekker verjaar Joanet! Cumpleanos Feliz!
Our friendly flatmate Camila told me about an interesting memorial close to her campus, so during Dirk’s lunch hour we took a bus to a part of Buenos Aires that we have not yet explored, close to Ciudad Universitaria – the campus of the Buenos Aires University. It is almost cut off on the tourist map that I got at a tourist kiosk, so I don’t think many tourists visit this area. It is a great excursion to make, so if you find yourself in Buenos Aires, put this on the do-to list. The bus driver dropped us off on the promenade; a short walk from the Memorial Park.
Argentina was ruled by a military dictatorship until 1983. During the dictatorship, starting in 1975, 30 000 people (who were a political or ideological threat to the government) ‘disappeared’ in what is referred to as the Dirty War or State Terrorism. The memorial park contains a monument with the names of the people who had disappeared. There are eight sculptures throughout the memorial park. The sculpture below, named To Human rights, is an interactive artwork by Leon Ferrari. People are allowed to move the steel rods to create music.
30 000 by Nicolas Gaugnini shows the artist’s father’s face from one particular viewpoint. His father disappeared in 1977.
Towers of Memory by Norberto Gomez depicts torture instruments:
Victory by William Tucker shows a broken geometric form that alludes to the short lives of those who disappeared. The concrete piece was made by pouring concrete into an excavation on site. Once set, the piece was raised, metaphorically revealing that which remained secret during the dictatorship.
In Pretoria, where I studied, you were only allowed on campus if you had a student card. Here anybody can come and go as they like. I have to add: University is free in Argentina. Incredible, considering how much some people have to pay for tertiary education! We spotted this stencil on a wall:The buildings are beautiful in a very rigid, symmetrical kind of way.
As we walked around on campus, we ended up discovering a path that lead to an unusual place. The bridge that leads to nowhere: A friendly man approached us when we looked a bit lost. His name is Malo (which means ‘bad’ in spanish, but he quickly explained that he is French and Malo is a common name with no bad connotations in France) Malo said that we are at some kind of ‘Hippie farm’ on campus. The director had given a few people permission to build houses and grow vegetables on a deserted piece of land on the campus. Everyone is very welcome there and we were encouraged to look around, but to not approach tents, because those are private spaces. About ten people live in this settlement. They give daily workshops about gardening and green building to interested people. We first followed the route to a viewpoint over the river:
Thereafter we explored the area where people live. The people we met were very friendly. Part of the space they used, seem to be a dilapidated building, with columns sticking out of the ground: What an unexpected ending to our excursion!