We had another full day of exploring Buenos Aires together. The first thing we decided was that we weren’t really interested in figuring out how to take the bus or the subway yet and that we’d rather walk.
So we set off with the goal of going to the MALBA, Museo de Arte Latinamericano de Buenos Aires, which is suppose to have art from all of Latin America from 1945 – present. We walked down Avenida del Libertador which is lined by numerous green spaces and tourist destinations.
Our first stop was the Plaza Naciones Unidas which is park containing a very large metal sculpture of a flower standing 75 ft high called Flores Genérica. The flower was designed and donated by artist Eduardo Catalano. The flower opens and closes mechanically each day, mimicking a real flower opening and closing with the sun. It was quite stunning!
Our second stop was the MALBA. Their collection of Latin American art could be described generally as modern art. They had some cool pieces including: a wooden bench whose ends curved up and around and down the wall, a set of moving malleable metal circles whose shadows made intriguing designs on the wall, some painted metal figures, a seascape whose bottom portion was a functioning fish tank, and a work with large prisms.
Other sections of the museum were filled with special exhibits. One called “Bye Bye American Pie” which documented an American view of war in the U.S. (including the war on poverty, drugs, welfare, abroad, etc…) through the pieces of 6 U.S. artists. The other was an exhibit of work by León Ferrari depicting an odd mix of religious artwork with erotic and war based images superimposed. Both of these exhibits had warnings stating that children under 18 should be accompanied by an adult. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen such an odd mix of art under one roof before.
Nothing was planned after that so we just started to wander. We found ourselves playing on some exercise equipment in a park and wandering through a mesh of street vendors near the Cultural Center of Buenos Aires. They were selling everything from leather book coverings to jewelry, to maté paraphernalia, to clothes, to artwork. It was all very beautiful.
By the time we navigated all the little booths we found ourselves at the entrance to Recoleta Cemetery, the main cemetery in the city. It is filled with mausoleums, both old and new, made up of concrete and marble and any building material in between, and in various states of disrepair. The mausoleums usually had ornate iron doors with glass to protect the shrines inside. All the shrines were different, but most had some kind of religious ikon and decoration. Below these would sit the actual coffins or small urns. Each mausoleum had a staircase leading below-ground. I couldn’t figure out if this was for more storage, as each mausoleum could be for an entire family or set of families, or if it was for drainage purposes. We wandered around for a while, enjoying the relative quiet in comparison to the rest of the bustling city.
In front of the Recoleta Cemetery and the Cultural Center in the park is a magnificent tree. Its branches stretch out about 50 m in every direction and are supported by large beams that keep them up off the ground. A fence of about 15-20 m in diameter surrounded the trunk. It was incredible, but alas no picture. You’ll just have to use your imaginations!
On the way back to our hotel we stopped by a grocery store and picked up some sandwiches which we later consumed in our hotel room as a reward for our new discoveries!