PICTURE DESCRIPTION: The suburbs of Buenos Aires are full of strange works of art
Why build a water tank on the roof in the shape of Teletubby? Or the attempt to install a replica of the Eiffel Tower atop an almost abandoned building?
It is difficult to explain the increase of Unusual works of art scattered in the vast urban belt of about 11 million people outside the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.
In this vast area of tree-lined residential areas that coexist with cluttered areas – seemingly built with little if any urban planning – many residents have erected structures spectacular, leaving the audience in awe.
The creators are often construction workers or shop owners, although some artists are looking to leave their signature on their neighborhood.
Pedro Flores defines the suburbs of Buenos Aires as a “post-apocalyptic paradise” near the center of the capital. He and two friends run a Instagram account, “The Walking Conurban,” a play on the word “conurbano bonaerense,” when about 40 municipalities are known in Spanish.
The site posts daily images of these suburbs, often tinged with magical realism: a dinosaur on the dirty streets of a poor neighborhood; two Minions dolls greeting people from one house; a Statue of Liberty in the middle of a meadow.
Here are some of the works the Associated Press has visited.
On the roof of the street corner in La Tablada is a replica of the Eiffel Tower. Miguel Muñoz, 58, proudly explains how his father, a blacksmith, built it from scrap iron following the instructions of brochures from the French embassy.
“He gave it to me for my birthday, that’s why I didn’t sell it,” Muñoz said.
The tower is an icon in the neighborhood. “I used to take it down to paint and the neighbors went crazy thinking someone stole it,” says Muñoz.
On the terrace of a two-story house there is a large kettle-shaped water tank, like the ones Argentines use to make their favorite tea called mate. It was built in 1957 by Italian immigrant Victorio Smerilli and several relatives.
Gustavo Smerilli, the immigrant’s grandson, said: ‘They decided to make it as a replica of the ‘Victor’ kettle that they sold in a shop on the bottom floor of this house.
Adriana Paoli runs an art studio in the building and she is promoting the project to restore the kettle.
“If I say, ‘I have my workshop in the kettle,’ everyone knows the place,” she said.
Statue of Liberty
In the municipality of General Rodríguez, behind a modest house, a replica of the Statue of Liberty rises above the field where horses and cows graze.
Pablo Sebastián, the groundskeeper, said the 15-meter (49-foot-) structure is the remains of the “Liberty Motocross” circuit that operated there many years ago.
Gorilla of the houseboat
Sitting peacefully on a rock, by the door of a boat house in the town of San Miguel, Pepe the gorilla is drinking water from his mate’s gourd. The creator of the house and the gorilla statue was sculptor and painter Héctor Duarte, who died in 2020.
The Duarte family received an offer to buy the cement sculpture, but they refused to sell it.
Busts of Evita and Juan Perón
In the porch of the same house where the gorilla Pepe presides, a bust of Duarte by Juan Domingo Perón, three-time president of Argentina, and his wife, Eva María Duarte, can be seen embracing each other.
The Duarte family lent the sculptures for official ceremonies.
Monte Grande water tank
The giant water tank in Monte Grande’s main square became a work of art in 2020 when, at the request of the city, artist Leandro García Pimentel painted a mural depicting fire, earth, and air. and water on it.
The water tank has become a meeting point and public ceremony, and newlyweds pose for photos in front of the water tank.
On a street in front of bricklayer Daniel Niz’s house, in the poor neighborhood of Sol de Oro in Ezeiza, a dinosaur greets visitors.
Niz said: “My son wanted a rubber dinosaur and it was very expensive, so I decided to make this out of recycled things and materials.
He had previously placed the dinosaur on an indoor patio but he decided to put it outside so people could take pictures of the 1.2-ton structure.
God’s hand basin
A water tank made to look like a large hand holding a soccer ball is placed on the roof of a house in the La Cumbre neighborhood on the outskirts of La Plata, reminiscent of the famous goal scored by Diego Maradona. with his hand against England in the 1986 World Cup.
It was designed by a deceased mason who was very popular with the locals.
Colosseum, Tower of Pisa and Arc de Triomphe
Replicas of these European masterpieces in the municipality of Ituzaingó were made by the artist and architect Rubén Díaz, who is considered to be “the creator of the fantasy”. Díaz’s goal is in part to let his neighbors “travel” to places they would normally never see.
The Colosseum is 200 square meters (2,153 square feet) wide and 8 meters (26 feet) high, recreating the Roman amphitheater.
The Argentinian version of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris is 11 meters (36 feet) tall and features the immortal comedian Carlitos Balá on one side.
Meanwhile, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is located in the front garden of a private estate. Díaz proposed building the Great Wall by 2023.
Homer .’s oven
Homer Simpson, the creator of the TV series The Simpsons, smiles and thumbs up from the aluminum roof of a restaurant in the town of Ciudadela. In front of the restaurant serving barbecue, is the silhouette of Maradona running with a ball.
Teletubby water tank
Po, a red Teletubby with a circular antenna, smiles as she observes a long and crowded highway. But Po isn’t just there to decorate – she’s the cistern cover of a building in the town of Ciudadela.
Ignacio Castro, who rented the apartment directly below the tank, said that when he was about to move in, he found the head of the popular children’s show character in the kitchen. He gave it to his uncle but the owner of the building demanded it back.
Number of immigrants
Also in Ciudadela, about 20 human-sized figures appear in rows in the garden at the entrance to the home of Antonio Ierace, an Italian who immigrated to Argentina in 1949 and worked as a bricklayer.
As a hobby, he designed statues specifically for migrants, including a man carrying two suitcases, and statues for laborers such as hairdressers and blacksmiths.
House with Transformers
In the town of Adrogué, gardener Juan Acosta is mowing the lawn in his yard, where six robots look like Transformers from the 1980s American TV show. Transformers can be seen by passers-by from the sidewalk.
“Curious people take pictures every day,” says Acosta of the robots made from recycled materials.