la noche de los museos 2008
My third Museum Night in Bs As, and a lot to fit in. In 2006, Mum and I had visited an photography exhibition remembering resistance to the dictatorship, and gathered with the crowds on the steps of the Museo de Bellas Artes, before collapsing in a café (well, we had been to Brazil that morning!). Last year, Aunty Syl and Uncle Tony were here and we spent the evening in Monserrat, visiting the Museo Etnográfico Juan B. Ambrosetti (and a few others), and watched tango in the narrow streets, before enjoying a hot chocolate with a view of the Obelisco.
This year, I began with a visit to the Biblioteca Nacional designed by Clorino Testa, Francisco Bullrich and Alicia Cazzaniga. From the reading room, I looked over the Plaza de la Lectora - a park for reading - and the streets framed with jacaranda blossom.
Along Avenida de la Libertador, the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, and its beautiful French courtyard café, had attracted quite a crowd. With Louis decor and an enormous ballroom, it was like a (not so)mini Versailles.
At the back of the Spanish Embassy, the Casa de la Cultura del Fondo Nacional de las Artes, had a band playing upstairs, and the sound bounced off the crisp white walls.
I had wanted to visit the Museo de Arte Popular José Hernández for a while. There were some beautiful portraits of farmers and artisans from the North East of Argentina taken by Ricardo Wetzler to record the work of an Italian NGO, ISCOS (see photo above).
Across the courtyard, already filling up with musicians and guests, I found a small room in which two Shipibo women from the Peruvian Amazon were demonstrating traditional weaving. The exhibition was called Shinakoshobaon Bakebo (Daughters of the Spiders) because the forest spiders are believed to have taught the women to weave cloth. The shamanic healing powers of the women are connected to their designs. Instead of singing the ícaros, the women weave the songs into the cloth:
Este diseño es una canción... la melodia es una melodia de bienvenida de los húespedes a la fiesta. This design is a song... the melody is a melody of welcome to the guests who have come for the party.
I crossed the grand avenue, caught a bus and walked to my final museum of the night. The Museo de la Deuda Externa is housed in the tired-looking basement of the Economy Department of UBA. It was 10 at night, but the space was filled with people diligently following the curator around the graphic tale of Argentina's debt - Baring Brothers Bank, railways, dictatorships and dirty debt, growing interest and unemployment. I felt like I was stepping back in time to the days of the Jubilee 2000 campaign. The exhibition ended with Argentina's paying back of its debts to the IMF in 2005, but of course other debts owed to the Paris Club, etc. continue to be in the news, as Christina pledges to pay back these debts also. But at what cost?
While others continued their caminos around the city's museums, and as yet more bands and theatre groups entertained and informed the crowds, I caught the bus home, bringing my last noche de los museos to a close.