In the morning we were taken to view two theatres, the first located overlooking the river, a nice traditional venue but not quite connected to our creative vision.
We then boarded a taxi to the other more promising site in the city Zoo, but on the way the heavens opened and a meter of rain fell, the drains couldn’t cope with the deluge and the streets flooded immediately. We were suddenly white water rafting in a taxi cab towards the Zoo, we felt like Nelly and Noa on the way to rescue the animals, shame that we didn’t still have Avion as a transformative vessel.
From social sculpture, mobile arts space, travelling time capsule to a space ship called Skylark to secure the survival of the species! But we had to abandon our quest, the current was just too strong and our roles as the new floating Tarzan and Jane meets Major Tom were swept away down the muddy drains of Buenos Aires.
In the afternoon we met with the director and project partnership director of The British Council, James Shipton and Mary Godward who were extremely helpful and very interested in PATAGONIA150, they offered to arrange a meeting with Dario Lo Perfido, director of the biannual Buenos Aires Theatre Festival. BC are supporting the Scottish group Vanish Point in 2013 so a Welsh representation in 2015 to coincide with the 150th anniversary would be ideal, in fact preliminary discussions had already taken place between Eluned Haf of Wales Arts International and Dario at the Edinburgh Festival last year, therefore a related intervention in BA could became a reality…..now that would be great!
Perhaps a performative installation in Cardiff at the end of May to mark the The Departure of the Mimosa? The main event to take place in July to commemorate The Arrival in the form of a simultaneous experience in Patagonia and Wales, followed by a presence at the Buenos Aires Theatre Festival in October that will embody the future vision of Y Wladfa, this to coincide with the main Eisteddfod in Trelew……A complex calendar concept but an intriguing one nonetheless.
A morning meeting with Fernando Williams, lecturer of History and Theory of Architecture in BA University and a descendant of the original Welsh settlers.
Fernando gave us a fascinating insight into the origins and development of architecture in Chubut that included the current revival of ‘Welsh’ architecture and the desire to build in a ‘Neo Galles’ style, what ever that means? I can’t wait to discover ! Fernando also explained the notion of how his forefathers gradually transformed the landscape via the chapel congregation, its influence over the community subsequently shaped the very terrain that surrounded them….the power of prayer and preaching pushed the plough. Very interesting stuff and really relevant to our research.
I have a strong feeling that Fernando will play a key advisory role, giving the project some academic gravitas. He gave us his book , ‘Between the desert and the garden‘ in Spanish, which Sian is now reading next to me as we wait to board the plane to Trelew.
Friday evening turned out to be a ‘bambero cultural’ (cultural bombardment) of the most eccentric variety. It began with a trip to watch the annual Gay parade which seemed to a load of old men in drag reeling over their heels… imagine your father as a pantomime dame teetering on the Tarmac surrounded by transsexuals with big bare surgically planted breasts trying to bounce in the background. The latter were all crammed onto numerous lorries pumping loud house music but the vehicles seemed to be going nowhere so we left, as unmoved as the fake plastic bosoms and stationary floats.
Onwards to a durational performance in the basement of a bookshop which consisted of a naked man in a corner wearing only a pig like mask made from a pillow case and wearing stripy socks as gloves. Meanwhile his compatriots executed repetitive movements with various objects; a cardboard door; strange steel tubes petruding from the ceiling with elasticated rubber ends and a horselike section of steel frame reminiscent of the original Equus stage props. The most strange thing was that the guy holding the ‘horse’ was my Steve’s doppelgänger which threw my concentration completely, the performance was somewhat mesmerising but after half an hour we left the pillow case pig to play with his pit pony play mate.
On our way home we came across a Christian Boltansky installation in the former National library, a cylindrical interior reminiscent of the one in Swansea where NTW and Volcano presented Shelf Life but much taller and more grandiose. Great space but rather poorly displayed work, hundreds of books suspended via fishing wire to resemble birds in flight, too literal and didactic for my liking. As it happens a performance from the local Ballet Company was about to start, so we waited and watched and waited some more for something to happen but nothing very much did, the best moment was when whispering voices became audible from the dancers leather shoulder bags but overall the ‘dance’ was pretty disappointing and the installation nowhere near the potency, pathos and poetry of Boltansky’s other works.
The best theatrical experience by far took place the next day as we wandered through the San Telmo market which coincided with the anniversary where all the stall holders dress up in home made costumes. It was a wonderful site, surreal and hilarious.
We also saw some real Tango which made ‘Strictly come dancing’ look like ‘Strictly pretending’. Authentic Argentinian Tango is simply electrifying, people pretending is just poor parody.
So, our Argentinean adventure continues with the promise of the Patagonian pampas and a journey into the Paith awaits…. across the ‘ultimate landscape of the mind.’
Watch this BIG space !