One of my favorite things to do, as a guest in Argentina, is to climb onto the roof of the building in which I am staying in and watch the sun as it sets over Buenos Aires. Anyone who has been there will tell you Buenos Aires is constantly shifting and morphing; daily, the city swells from three-million inhabitants to fourteen million. Perhaps the visual cues of the sunset become an outward manifestation of the dance we are all a part of while visiting? The push and pull of the city is the tango of Buenos
Aires, as ten million souls side-step the obvious perils of a nation long torn apart and only recently beginning to heal. It is not as simple as it looks. Nonetheless, we join them, surrendering to the music of the city, a dangerous, irresistible seduction, impossible to refuse.
Dancing the tango means looking sideways, stealing glances - but never looking at the other dancers. In the dance of Buenos Aires, you must take a quick look at what lies ahead and what lies behind, and cleverly
sidestep both while remaining in the present. The city, however, cannot do either; it is a place where some choose not to remember and where many can
never forget. Mothers of disappeared children pose with silent dignity, defying time and the sanitizing attempts of history. Communities cry out for justice and publicly mourn their young sacrificed due to corruption. Indigenous peoples who will not be silenced or ignored as inconvenient reminders of a bloody past engage in public vigils. For every breathtaking cemetery like Recoleta, there is a heartbreaking memorial like Cromagnon,
paying homage to those who died tragically, needlessly, young; for every ritzy Palermo address, there is a family whose sidewalk bears the simple mosaic that signifies a relative “disappeared” under the military regime.
For each reminder of history’s tragedies and heartbreaks, however, there is also the unmistakable joy of a New Year’s celebration at a local hostel, of neighborhood children playing late night futbol under the street lamps, and of residents who will sit and talk with you for hours on end about anything from politics to the overwhelming affection that the residents of Buenos Aires have for their many pet dogs.
Looking back upon our time spent in Buenos Aires, the conversations with locals are what I remember most fondly of this beautiful, complex city. No one was too busy to answer a question, to sit and explain a bit of
history, politics, or the age of their babies and/or puppies. The beauty of each sunset washing its rosy glow over these wonderful people and reflecting off of the Rio de la Plata was confirmation of the day’s dance gracefully slowing. Remembering all of this, and thinking of the many photographic images created as a result, one realizes that remembering is an integral part of an ongoing process. We photographed not only to share the rich and vibrant beauty of this city and its inhabitants with others,
but also to recall this place, and its people, for ourselves. Preparing work for this book prompts not only memories of our visit, but acknowledges the people of Buenos Aires, of how hard they work every day to never forget. Our hope is that our photographs validate their quest by
offering a small bit of the world they work to preserve, and the justice they continue to strive for within it.
-Jessica Y. Neasbitt, 2011
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