A New Lens on Campus

Bar de Roberto, Buenos Aires (2002), ABOVE

Bar de Roberto, Buenos Aires (2002)

What I love about this photograph is that it takes you to a different time. When I was doing research about the Tango, one of the things that I really wanted to do was  show the roots of the tango, and how it came to be. Tango was born in the brothels of Buenos Aires in the beginning of the 20th century, and basically what you have is a bunch of men flirting with women—who were mainly prostitutes—but that is not the case in this picture. This is a modern bar in 2002 in Argentina, but it gives you the feeling of this kind of place that is a little marginally off, and it’s precisely how tango started. The people who danced tango, the people who sang tango, were poor immigrants that arrived over from Europe. They had nothing. All they had were their old music traditions and their nostalgia. I like that you see the boy in his cart, which throws you a little off, and the attitude of the woman, which you cannot see: her stockings, the way she flirts, the way their hands mirror each other.

Chiquipata, Bolivia (2002)

I love seeing the little slices of life. For me there are only two different subjects, love and death. Love: the way we connect together, the way we relate to each other. Death: the separation and distance between human beings. I love the grandmother holding the baby, and I love how they’re gossiping. You can see and know that they’re gossiping just by looking at their faces; they’re so into it and not paying attention to anything else. I spent a lot of time there, about an hour, and they never paid attention to me, not once—they were so focused on their conversation. If you are respectful and let them know what it is you are doing, people forget you quickly and just go on with what they’re doing. In my opinion, the camera can be used as a wall or as a bridge. You can bring people closer to you if you explain yourself, if you are respectful, and if you pay attention to the dignity of the subjects you are photographing. If you don’t pay attention to them, and you just pay attention to yourself and your own work, I think it becomes a wall. A camera can separate you from everything.