Esquina de Gorriti y Carranza.

Buenos Aires - One night, not long ago, I received a text message from my friend Guido: “Vení.” It was an invitation to come to a nearby street corner where he was staging an intervencion titled Sin Título (publicidad interior). Guido had chosen a corner in Palermo Hollywood in front of an old, one-story, Italianate house slated for demotion. This was once the rough and tumble neighbourhood across the Maldonado Creek, featured in Borges tales, where victims of knife-fights often had their bodies dumped. Now the area exemplifies the gentrifying creep of Palermo restaurants, bars, and fashion.
I arrived to find Guido, with the help of his boyfriend, working quickly and deliberately in front of the old house. It was surrounded by pre-construction billboards on which were advertisements for a Peruvian shaman’s new self-help book. Here Guido had chosen to re-paper these billboards with wallpaper. The rolls of Victorian, flowered paper were unrolled on the sidewalk, slathered with paste, and mounted over the shaman’s multiple faces.
I stood back to watch, take pictures, and offer the odd hand passing a tray or brush. Guido’s act of domesticating a public and commercial space contrasted sharply with the well-dressed passersby on their ways to the local chic restaurants and bars. Understandably, any out-of-place public act can lead to unexpected responses, which often take narrative form. And this night’s narrative involved an old woman, a police officer, potential reprimand, unexpected praise, and a warning that Guido’s work could be vandalised. But as tempting as it is to recount that narrative (complete with its beautiful ironies, thus making it a particularly good narrative), I think the narrative is consequent and subordinate to Guido’s act and the tone it set.
Perhaps “exterior” is the best adjective that describes Guido’s furtive actions: the element of vandalism, and thus risk, was palpable. But the sense of risk was not due solely to this act of “vandalism.” The act felt denuding. We naturally expect tension when the outside world invades private space. We are more familiar with the fear of the uncontrollable and threatening invading our interior refuges. But Guido’s piece demonstrated the opposite elicits just as much tension: bringing the intimate and private into the street infused that corner with a palpable sense of vulnerability. Brought outside, the wallpaper seemed to re-expose the old house, to bring it back in front of the billboards, to turn the old house inside-out. With this simple change, Guido converted the mise-en-scene of the street.
The next day I received an email. Guido had returned and photographed the corner in the bright morning sun. At some point in the night, along one side of one billboard, someone had torn a small piece of the wallpaper. It was now, in his words, “perfecto.”

Nathan Tichenor, 2008

LIZ BRUCHET is an independent Curator living in London. She has an MFA in Curatorial Studies from the University of British Columbia. NATHAN TICHENOR is a collector exploring Buenos Aires and its art world. He has a BA in Art History from the University of British Columbia. Two friends DIALOGUE between two art worlds as Liz and Nathan report back and forth what art each is discovering.

BA - LONDON return