Marcos Lopez.

Marcos Lopez was born in 1958 in Santa Fe. He lives and works in Buenos Aires. He started taking photos in 1978 and was awarded a further training grant by the National Arts Fund of Buenos Aires, to where he then moved. In 1984, he participated in the creation of the Núcleo de Autores Fotográficos group (Circle of Photographic Authors). In 1993, he published Retratos (Portraits), his first black and white photography book. He then began to experiment with colour and produced the Latino Pop series (published in 2000), followed by the sub-realismo Criollo series (published in 2003). His photographs are notably included in the collections of the Buenos Aires Latin-American Art Museum, the Reina Sofia Art Centre National Museum in Madrid, the Contemporary Art Museum of Castilla y León (Spain) and the Daros-Latinamerica Foundation in Zurich (Switzerland). His more recent exhibitions include his participation in Fotoseptiembre 2009 with “Presencia Flagrant” at the Mexico Image Centre, his roaming retrospect series “Vuelo de cabotaje” (Domestic Flights), which is currently travelling throughout Argentina. He was particularly noticed at the 41st “Rencontres photographiques” in Arles, France, in July 2010. (Marcos López © Pablo Corral Vega)

FROM YOUR DESKS: I visited Buenos Aires last year and witnessed a raw, artistic city, like the old New York. Do you see a changing city; a place to create art?

MARCOS LOPEZ: It’s a city with a definite European feel, but with a lot of social inequality. This makes for a certain inner violence. There are neighborhoods that are very chic like Puerto Madero at the same time that there are families waiting to rummage in the garbage just to be able to eat. I like creating here. I like the chaos. When I go to Europe, I’m bored after five days.

FYD: Are Argentina and Mexico similar in respect to the people or family life?

ML: Argentina and Mexico are very different. It’s the same language, but the culture is very different. For example, no one in Mexico ever says no. They all say yes, but it’s in a very particular way, such that it’s as though they’ve said no.

The production cost was the barbeque: the meat and the wine. 

FYD: I saw my first Boca game. Sadly, they lost to Roasrio Central. Who is your team? 

ML: I live five blocks from La Boca Stadium.  I don’t like football.

FYD: Your images of Che. How does popular culture influence your work? 

ML: I like making a Latin version of Andy Warhol, mixed with the mural-art of the Mexican Diego Rivera. This is Latin Pop.

I like creating here. I like the chaos. When I go to Europe, I’m bored after five days.

FYD: Your ASADO (Last Supper) panoramic photograph in Mendoza is a classic. Can you talk about that day? 

ML: I did my version of the Last Supper in 2001, in October, right before the December Crisis [when Argentines weren’t able to withdraw money from banks]. Some critics were saying that the crisis was some sort of premonition, something like Argentina’s last supper. I took the photo right before coming home from the Valencia Biennial in Spain, where I’d seen a version of the photo taken by Hiroshi Sugimoto, a Japanese photographer.

I remember that after seeing Sugimoto’s photo, it suddenly clicked and I said I was going to do an Argentine version. I got back to Buenos Aires and called my friend Hugo Olmos, a theatre producer (who in the photo is trying to grab a box of wine) and I told him I was getting a barbeque together for a photo. He knows everyone in Cordoba, so he called all our mutual friends, artists that work in plastic that live in Cordoba (painters and sculptors: Roque Fratichelli, Ruben Menas, Oscar Paez, among others) and we organized this big BBQ on the back patio of Menas and Fabiana’s house in Mendiolaza, along the Villa Allende, right by the airport in Cordoba.

I went alone in one trip to Cordoba with my camera and a couple of flashes in the old car I used to have back then. I was so excited to take the photo. The production cost was the barbeque: the meat and the wine. All of it at my invitation. There was no technical sophistication: shutter speed of 125 and aperture of 11 in full midday sun. A couple flashes in the foreground to give that effect of unreal, theatrical light, exaggerated poses, a little digital retouching in order to correct for some errors I made thanks to the fact that, by the time I took the photo, we were all half-drunk.

Now that it’s fashionable to re-do classic paintings as photographs, I’m done. I won’t make new versions of anything again. I want my work to speak from the periphery, to express the texture of the subversive. I try to give my work the pain and untidiness of Mestizo-America. And I believe this image achieves that. I’m eternally grateful that this photo occurred to me. In this end, this is documentary. This image is documenting a way of life, a culture, an age…

Buy Marcos new book here or better yet take a photography workshop from him at the International Summer School of Photography (ISSP) in Latvia; your application here.

(From The Desk Of…thanks Nick Reding for his helpful Spanish to English translation)

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