‘The first days that weird mix of Europe and South America impressed me a lot’

Artist Su Tomesen already had the desire to go to Buenos Aires. She went there to film for City One Minutes: ‘I wanted to have a more personal image of Buenos Aires. I travel a lot and I love South America. I love the Latin spontaneity, the extrovertly and the clarity: I adore it. Yes means yes and no means no. It’s completely different to Asia, where, for instance, they don’t have the word ‘no’ in their vocabulary.

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Buenos Aires was new to Tomesen: ‘I had never been there. Before I went, I came across a lot of texts that said that Buenos Aires is very European. Personally I think Buenos Aires is very South American too.’ The first couple of days, this weird mix of Europe and South America impressed the artist a lot. ‘From a Eurocentric point of view, you can see the grandeur of cities like Madrid and Paris in Buenos Aires. In Bucharest and yet again in Paris, you recognize the broad streets which replaced whole districts. At times I thought I was in Brooklyn and at times I saw links with a city like Tel Aviv, where you can see a lot of Art Deco ornaments in the streets too. It was a confusing start. You can easily see the relationship with Europe. There are a lot of former Italians and Spaniards living in Buenos Aires. As soon as you enter a museum of contemporary art you notice the influences from South America. I also remember all the impromptu barbecues in de streets, called assados, as a typical South American, or actually Argentinean phenomenon.

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When asked to describe Buenos Aires in one word, Tomesen answers ‘infinite.’ ‘You can travel through Buenos Aires for two hours, with bus no. 28. After the moment you cross the so called Capital Federal (upon which is agreed that it is the border of the city of Buenos Aires) you still encounter ten million inhabitants of the urbanized province of Buenos Aires. Peruvians, Colombians, Venezulans; Buenos Aires has got a rich immigration history and still takes in a great many immigrants. Students as well as jobseekers are seeking refuge in this city. However, there are little jobs and consequently a lot of people live in the slums, the so called ‘villas.”

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Tomesen looks back with pleasure on the whole adventure and the people she met. ‘I rented a room from sweet, hospitable people, who were living in a beautiful house, with an asodo on the rooftop!’ To end the period and the project, Tomesen gave a presentation. ‘At the end of the project, everyone gathered in Cafe ‘Dui Dui,’ a Dutch cafe, that bears its name because the sounds in ‘doei doei’ (bye bye), are difficult to grasp for an Argentinean. The Dutch Embassy made the screening of the City One Minutes in this cafe possible. The consulate was very helpful during the whole project. Through them I gained a lot of contacts.

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Tomesen finds recommending a video that brings out the essence of Buenos Aires, a difficult task. After a while she decides placing the charming video ‘Porteño’ in the spotlights: ‘In the video I am a passenger in a taxi, being driven by an inhabitant of Buenos Aires, a real Porteño. You can’t see the man but you can hear him talk about his city, which he does prideful. On his dashboard there’s a plastic dog that solely nods and is therefore very good company. When asked by the cabdriver if I like Buenos Aires, not only I say yes; the plastic dog nods yes too. During the presentation in café ‘DuiDui’ this One Minute video made a lot of people laugh.’

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Curious about Porteño and other video’s on Buenos Aires? Here you can find them. Want to know more about Su Tomesen? Visit her website here.

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