We went in a big group, everyone from the VG house, and a couple of people also working for Voluntario Global, but who are living elsewhere. Everyone is looking forward to the exhibition. It is getting dark as we arrive. We enter the hall, greet whoever is sitting there, and hurry upstairs where the action is taking place. We are at the photo exhibition, where the artists are children and the inspiration their own home – La Boca neighbourhood.
As we enter the room, there is a feeling of anticipation. Children are running everywhere, not considering the seriousness of being an artist. We are introduced to the exhibition by little pieces of text explaining the ideas behind the work in the words of the children, and showing a slightly more thoughtful side to them than the noisy and playful ones we are experiencing, as they run around the room. The texts explain in simple words how the children came to find the subject of their photos, the specific perspectives and angles. They invite you to understand the way they have worked with the cameras, what their thoughts were and how they came to understand the potential of their own neighbourhood. We are also shown little interviews with the children on the subject of La Boca – why is it called La Boca and its history – these thoughts deepen our understanding of who they are and their approach to the work. Even though there are no photos of the children themselves, reading what has been captured of their thoughts, leaves an impression of who they are. Their work has been inspired by a hint of their own discovery of their feelings towards their neighbourhood. Feelings they may not have been aware of in everyday life. This all adds to our anticipation, and we are excited to move on to the main attraction of the evening – the photos.
The photos displayed at the exhibition depict many diverse aspects of life in La Boca neighbourhood. The viewer saw a detailed insight into the culture of one of Buenos Aires oldest districts with representations of the infamous dockyard, the Lezama park, animals, mural paintings and, of course, images relating to Boca Juniors football club. The Bombonera stadium and legend Diego Maradona were what most of the children associated with one of Buenos Aires most famous teams. The children in the Los Pibes community centre produced some highly professional and creative photos that brilliantly capture the culture that surrounds one of the most historic districts in the Argentine capital.
Having looked around the whole exhibition we spoke with Ramiro, a young boy with a great passion for football, Boca Juniors and Diego Maradona. This passion was evident through the fact that he had one of the largest displays at the exhibition. A large proportion of his photos featured murals in streets very near the community centre. These old paintings portray images of Maradona, sketches of La Bombonera and the general footballing culture which clearly plays a central role in this neighbourhood. Speaking to him, we learnt just how much football has meant to him and through his photography this was further underlined. When asked who his current favourite player is, he said it is still Maradona! We then spoke with Rosario, a young girl who showed a great interest in many photos at the exhibition. Although she hadn't taken any photos, it was fantastic to see her so involved and she especially took a liking to the display of the cats and dogs in La Boca. There is a great picture of her with her favourite dog!
Rounding the evening off, the children gathered to do a small presentation for everyone who showed up. Parents, grandparents, all watching and listening. Each of the children read a few words, talking quickly, some of them looking shy or self-conscious, all of them looking proud. The coordinator then took over, thanking the community centre Los Pibes, for funding the work, providing the children with the possibility of learning, and for developing an interest in creating something, and for giving them an opportunity to try something different than what they usually do. It has influenced their perception of their home and opened their eyes to the diversities of the neighbourhood. But it has also influenced their perception of their own abilities, opening their eyes to what is possible and to the fact that they are able to achieve something. For some of them, this feeling might follow them into the future, enabling them to dream, and maybe, eventually reach for that dream.