By Santiago López | September 08, 2022

In his first exhibition since 2019, the photographer returns to deep Buenos Aires in search of reflections of our present through a documentary and poetic reading of the past.


Guillermo Srodek Hart always returns to the countryside. The photographer, born in Buenos Aires, with a history of exhibitions that include the Venice Biennial, Paris Photo and ARCOmadrid, among others, recreates in his work his vision of the countryside towards the province inland. In his work we find an appreciation of rural life, not through its people, but the elements that make it up, building a kind of identity through the exploration of the territories and spaces they inhabit: we do not see the people, but we never fail to see their traces. 


The process that results in the Rural Installations series began in 2017, when the artist began to take advantage of every weekend and every available moment to get in the car, and, making base in the town of Tres Arroyos, drive along the routes of the province in search of rural architectures in various states of abandonment. This process was accompanied by a deep investigation, taking advantage not only of satellite images and access to maps of the areas, but also the interaction with the members of the communities that still inhabit these spaces, or at least surround or know of them, and could point the way beyond the maps.


"I don't think of myself as a photographer who exhibits, I think of myself as a photographer obsessed with collecting the fragments of the world that he likes," says Srodek Hart, and in that eagerness to collect fragments, he knows his task is to find the best way to capture them. Although his traditional training leads him to self-identify as "old school", he’s the first to appreciate the need to adapt and evolve in the development of his way of working.

With this challenge in mind, for Rural Installations the photographer combined, for the first time, capturing images with his traditional plate camera and a drone as a tool for the digital recording of his work. Although this is a technological leap that may sound extreme at first glance, the results show the wisdom of that decision: the drone not only allowed him greater access to places he could not previously have reached on his own, but also the pieces born from this work reveal, due to its format, new contrasts and perspectives.


As a result, the Rural Installations series walks the liminal space between the most rigorous documentary record and the most expressive artistic photography. The combination of image formats reflects the need to tell a story that goes beyond what we see, entering into their how and why. "It a sort of B side, another way of approaching the imaginary of what we think Buenos Aires is, of what the countryside is," says Jen Zapata, the exhibit’s curator, who pushed the artist to experiment with the curatorial design, going beyond the exhibition and entering into the need to generate a journey and a reaction in the public that enters the gallery.


On the other hand, the latent expressiveness of the pieces comes into existence through the meticulous process by which the artist captured the images, who seeks not only to account for the spaces as he finds them, but creates expansive compositions loaded with information that support both an emotional and historical reading; this is perhaps the only way to approach them, if we think about the difficulty of accessing reliable historical records, or family stories not loaded with the subjectivity provided by the passage of time and the inevitable word of mouth.

Some of the buildings photographed no longer exist, some of the spaces are inaccessible, but Srodek Hart's work generates a sense of urgency from what we see, not as an absolute past, but as part of the constant progression of time, in which our attempts to build are no more - or less - than installations, artistic and ephemeral experiments on the spaces we inhabit. 




Rural Installations can be visited until September 16th at Ungallery, Arroyo 932.

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