By Almudena Calatrava | Associated Press
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Why build a rooftop water tank in the shape of a Teletubby? Or go to the effort of installing a replica of the Eiffel Tower atop a semi-abandoned building?
It’s often difficult to explain the proliferation of unusual artwork dotting the vast urban belt of some 11 million people outside Argentina’s capital of Buenos Aires.
In this immense swath of tree-lined neighborhoods co-existing with areas of chaos — apparently built with little if any urban planning — many residents have erected grandiose, eyebrow-raising surprises.
The creators are usually construction workers or shop owners, although some artists are seeking to leave their signature in their neighborhood.
Pedro Flores defines the outskirts of Buenos Aires as a “post-apocalyptic paradise” close to the capital’s center. He and two friends run an Instagram account, “The Walking Conurban,” a play on the words “conurbano bonaerense,” as the roughly 40 municipalities are known in Spanish.
The page publishes images daily of these suburbs, often tinged with a bit of magical realism: a dinosaur on the dirt streets of a poor neighborhood; two Minions dolls greeting people from a home; a Statue of Liberty in the middle of a pasture.
Here are some of the works The Associated Press visited.
THE EIFFEL TOWER
On a rooftop at the corner of a street in the town of La Tablada stands a replica of the Eiffel Tower. Miguel Muñoz, 58, proudly explains how his father, a blacksmith, built it out of leftover iron with the guidance of brochures from the French embassy.
“He gave it to me on my birthday, that’s why I don’t sell it,” Muñoz said.
The tower is a symbol in the neighborhood. “I took it down once to paint it and the neighbors went crazy thinking someone had stolen it,” Muñoz said.
On the terrace of a two-story house stands a large water tank in the shape of a kettle, like ones used by Argentines to make tea-like infusions known as mate, in the Villa Raffo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press
On the terrace of a two-story house stands a large water tank in the shape of a kettle, like the ones used by Argentines to make their beloved tea-like infusions known as mate. It was built in 1957 by Italian immigrant Victorio Smerilli and some relatives.
“They decided to do it as a replica of the ‘Victor’ kettle they sold in a store located downstairs in this same house,” said Gustavo Smerilli, the immigrant’s grandson.
Adriana Paoli runs an art workshop in the building and she is pushing a 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 humble house, a replica of a Statue of Liberty rises above a field where horses and cows graze.
The 15-meter- (49-foot-) high structure is a leftover from the “Liberty Motocross” circuit operated there years ago, the caretaker of the property, Pablo Sebastián, said.
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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment