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Dreaming simply: looking at Argentinian Design

Dreaming simply: looking at Argentinian Design
By Cristina Morozzi -

I have no title to speak of the state of Argentinian design. I have a very sketchy knowledge of the country and have had only rare encounters with Argentinian designers. Nor do I want to make short shrift of the Argentine design scene simply because I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days there. So I shall talk of Argentinian design on the highly subjective level of personal impressions – that make no claim to be formulated views.
My first contact goes back to 1992, during an exhibition on Latin American design “Aller Simple” organised by the Lyons-based Maison du Livre’s Blandine Bardonnet and Florence Gauthier, head of design at the Maison du Livre, and with the artistic assistance of Giulio and Valerio Vinaccia, two Columbian artists living in Milan. The exhibition showed the work of several Argentinian designers living in Europe. At the time, I wrote in the catalogue (artwork by the Argentinian Silvia Centeleghe): “one way ticket? More like a return ticket. These South American designers living in Europe have gone back to their origins and their initial training. They have closed a circle many pre-war exiles had opened when they took the message of the Bauhaus and the Ulm school to the southern hemisphere”. (For example, architect and historian, Tomás Maldonado, who was born in Buenos Aires, taught at Ulm from 1954 and was its dean from 1964 to 1966.) At the exhibition, I remember noting that all the works on display had a vein of magic, of the type that helps you overcome the trials of daily living, which, transferred to design, becomes subtle surrealism. “Although undeclared and hidden” my notes continue, “this magic is a no less tangible trait of all South Americans, even if, on coming into contact with the less disquieting realities of Europe, it leads to a more conceptual surrealism. The result is a rarified yet intriguing game, a detachment that is all the more piercing because it is not a gulf, an irony that is all the more penetrating because...

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