From Kuching to Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires
Stencil, Buenos Aires

I arrived in Buenos Aires just over a week ago to the 75th bed I’ve slept in in two years. I’d been in Kuching working on the next instalment of my video installation piece, NOTHINGKNOWN, and the micro-docs series, Sarawak Gone. More on the latter in the coming months.

It was the first face to face APC Board meeting since January 2008’s gathering in Ithala, South Africa, which brought me here. We’d accomplished a great deal in four days – approving the APC Governance Manual, the APC Strategic Plan for 2008 – 2012, audited financial statements,  two internal reviews, management and program staff reports and presentations… Always intense, necessarily detailed, never dull!

With every passing day I am enjoying more and more the bristling vastness of Buenos Aires, a place one can find much frustration with, but heavily counter-balanced by the fusion of cultural energy here. I was delighted and inspired to see a tango orchestra – a free concert and the theatre was full. Fascinating line up. Two double bass, acoustic bass, three violas, three bandoneón, flute, electric guitar, desks of first and second violins, piano. It was beautiful. So very very beautiful and sexy. When ever the solo violin appeared it felt as if the orchestra were chasing it, always a mere syncopated beat ahead, sometimes just behind, always racing towards highly pitched resolve, that never really quite ended, burying its intensity into the heart and head simultaneously.

One evening some of us went to a real, hard core tango night in an old part of the city, but the star attraction was ill, so not a great deal was happening. The venue was HUGE… like a warehouse, full of weird and funky art, a ceiling that went up to forever. I was happy being there… reminded me of the Shepparton Newman Warehouse and spaces like Alpha House in Sydney I’d either lived or spent time in.

There were beautifully lit spaces such as the never ending pool hall, the exterior of the old tango bar with its fluid graffiti under yellowed street lamps… Regrettably, to my horror the next morning, I would discover that I’d left my camera, a Canon Powershot SX1 IS, in a taxi.

I still can’t believe it’s out of sight. Keep thinking it’ll turn up in my hotel room, that I’d wedged it between something, but alas not. It’s gone. Lost in Buenos Aires forever. Unfortunately it’s not insured for forgetfulness.

Feels like I’ve lost a travel companion, but in a strange way, I find I’m more disappointed  at losing all those photos I’d taken that evening… But it does point to the fact that I’m not cashed up to replace such integral items to my work. I’m travelling on a bare bones budget, picking up gigs here and there, selling a CD here and there, but not enough to replace a camera let alone purchase an Argentinean made guitar, of which I am surrounded!

A hard lesson learnt – don’t go out at midnight after a feast of wine and meat with an early morning start scheduled in the midst of a Board meeting. But in Argentina, this kind of pumped living is normal… people take dinner at 11pm then go out. Given I rarely get a decent nights sleep and that I’m often awake till 4am, I took my chances.

I’d lso lost 2G and 32MB SD cards, full set of rechargable batteries, lens cleaning kit and an ergonomic mouse stashed at the bottom of the camera bag along with a small note pad! Not happy, but surprisingly calm.

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