ESR 4 Blog January 2022: Jenny Fradranski

Starting field work in Buenos Aires

I left the winter hemisphere and arrived in Buenos Aires to spend a month here for my first field work as part of my research on Socially Engaged Art and the Future of Democracy. I am investigating Argentinian political art and more specifically the feminist artivismo. Furthermore I am focusing on how the notion of time and its affiliated concepts of past and future, memory and temporality are central to organizing resistance and pre-enacting a livable future in the present.

As I was driving into the city of Buenos Aires the picture of Eva Perón – who became a folk heroine next to her husband and Argentinian president Juan Perón due to her engagement for the poor – welcomes me on high rise building – next to the advertisement of fast internet contracts and Latin American Netflix shows. The taxi driver restarts the motor while driving, something is wrong, he pulls over to open the front of the car – I notice the degree to which I am usually embedded in a modern high tech life where nobody opens the front of their car anymore. The taxi driver is not concerned, he knows the problem, and soon we are driving at full speed towards the city.

Cash is king in Buenos Aires. The Inflation of 50% drives the blackmarket for changing Euro and Dollar into Pesos based on an un-official currency change rate. While I was ordering a taxi an Argentinian lady asked me if I needed help, and then without me asking she pointed out that I should never change my money at the bank – the reality of a severe financial and economic crisis. This is 21 years after the historic crisis of 2001 that has caused a surge of political and socially engaged art – which the exhibition 19y20 at the Centro Cultural de la Memoria Haroldo Conti documents. It is probably the first exhibition that displays to that extent the diversity of collective artistic actions before, during and after the crisis.

In the coming weeks I will meet and interview artists and curators, visit museums, galleries and centros culturales. I will also try to attend assembleas for the preparation of 8M – International Women’s Day – which is one of the main protest days of the feminist movement. On my instagram account (@jennyfadranski) I will post now and then about my field work, if you would like to follow more closely. For now I will close, since there is so much to do and see and organize, that writing has to wait at this point.

Saludos de Argentina

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