There once were three streams that flowed freely into the mouth of La Plata: Arroyo Perez, Regimiento and El Gato. The streams played under the watchful eye of the Ceibo trees, their red flowers often finding their way into the waters. One day, people under the spell of Industrial Might and Rationalistic Thinking built a beautiful city inspired by geometry. Regimiento and Perez were forced underground, trapped into pipes of concrete and metal. Ceibo trees and local vegetation were removed because they did not suit the vision of the planned city. With time, El Gato’s banks were crowded by development, its waters soiled with garbage and excrement because people all over the world forgot how to honour water. Time passed until one day the perfect city broke under countless tiny raindrops. This scared the people, because for 300 years humanity believed that they had tamed nature. To assure themselves that they were once again in control, El Gato was encased in concrete.
However Ceibo knows that humans have no such control – the climate is changing. If we hope to continue having beautiful cities, we need to remember that we are not masters of the earth, but like El Gato y El Ceibo, we are its children.
In retracing the path of the Arroyo Gato, I imagined La Plata’s incorporation of native habitats as part of the city’s planned frame work. I modeled my vision on Toronto which, after its own flooding event in 1954 during hurricane Hazel, reversed development in the ravines and has been actively engaged in rejuvenating its green spaces as productive native habitats. These habitats provide its citizens with much needed space for local enjoyment, natural flood protection, thermal heat sink, air filtration, psychological relief and healing, and many other benefits. The work in the show looks at how the relationship between nature and humanity manifests itself in landscape so as to encourage personal reflection on what kind of world we chose to create and live in.
Curatorial text for ”EL GATO Y EL CEIBO” by Rafael Santos, Contextual Artist , curator at Residencia Corazón Argentina
Andrzej llegó a La Plata intrigado, entre otras cosas, por ser “la Ciudad de los Tilos”, pero parece que algún Ceibo le advirtió que su especie vivió aquí por miles de años antes de que la ciudad existiera. Luego de una conversación preliminar en la que se enteró de la trágica inundación del año 2013 su profundo interés en la relación humano/entorno lo lanzó a una exploración detallada del territorio, descubriendo a cada paso el devenir de la prevalencia del desarrollo urbano por sobre los atributos naturales de la zona, sus cursos de agua, la vegetación local ¿Que es un artista sino un explorador que, como si poseyera un radar, intenta captar lo esencial en lo que ocurre alrededor durante su travesía, convirtiéndola en una propuesta crítico/poética? Mediante sus elaboradas pinturas, su texto al modo de un cuento infantil, sus fotografías y sus minuciosas recolecciones, el decidió pasearnos entre lo regional y lo microscópico, lo cotidiano y lo trascendental. El interrogante que plantea Andrzej es simple, y a la vez crucial: ¿Cómo queremos vivir? A través de su trabajo, el pasado y el presente informan el futuro. Un futuro que advertimos complicado, mientras algún Ceibo, junto a Andrzej , nos susurra que podría no serlo tanto.
Andrzej arrived in La Plata intrigued, among other things, for being “the City of Los Tilos”, but it seems that some Ceibo tree warned him that his species lived here for thousands of years before the city existed. After a preliminary conversation in which he learned about the tragic flood of 2013 his deep interest in the human environment relationship launched him to a detailed exploration of the territory, discovering at every step the evolution of the prevalence of urban development over the natural attributes of the area, its water courses, the local vegetation. What is an artist but an explorer who, as if possessing a radar, tries to capture the essentials in what is going on during his journey, turning it into a critical / poetic proposal? Through his elaborate paintings, his text in the form of a children’s story, his photographs and his thorough collections, he decided to walk between the regional and the microscopic, the everyday and the transcendental. Andrzej’s question is simple, and at the same time crucial: How do we want to live? Through his work, the past and the present inform the future. A future we notice complicated, while some Ceibo, along with Andrzej, whispers to us that it might not be so.
Many thanks to Rafael Santos, Rodrigo Mirto, Juan Pablo for all their help and encouragement in bringing this show to life. Thank you Tom Feulner and Katies Gies for lending their writing expertise in editing my short parable.