This gallery/residency is beyond the city limits, limits which are themselves extensive run seamlessly into the province also known as Buenos Aires, which is probably bigger than the UK itself (I don’t really know). Though Avellenada sits to the south, only just over the river border, I have a hard time getting there. The 93 bus is cancelled. Not that there is any information to that effect, I just wait long enough to know it as an empirical truth. Instead I get a 95 heading in vaguely the right direction and a taxi from there. I’d been told, for my own security, not to get in anything other than a radio cab but it turns out the radio cab driver hasn’t got a clue where I want to go so I have to switch to a local firm – a guy who mercifully turns out to be a very lovely chap indeed. Avellenada is a rough round the edges industrial district. He thinks I’m a lost or at least a bit crazy for thinking there is anything like a gallery here and waits for me while I check I’m in the right place.
I ring the doorbell and it turns out I am. I’m suddenly a bit nervous – I don’t know anyone except Asli, one of the three artists showing. From an utterly deserted street I’m suddenly surrounded by lots of people – people who all seem to know each other very well. So between that, being largely bereft of any Castilian vocabulary for art and wanting to make a good impression - I’m feeling a bit shaky.
The house itself is rather lovely, a large L shaped building with a split level patio/terrace, studios and a kind of 70’s looking, open plan living space. It’s like a luxury portneño holiday home sandwiched between a mechanics yard and an abattoir. I guess the east end of London must have been like this twenty years ago. Even so, with a host of trendy folk swanning around this oasis in such an incongrous location I kind of feel like I walked into a secret criminal underworld hideout...SPECTRE’s den maybe and a guy with a white cat is going to come out and roast me slowly on an asado…until I talk art Castilano.
Aslı does a good job of putting my nerves at rest and introduces me to a few folk. I recognize one of the other artists showing from a night out in a club the previous week as well. I befriend an artsist from Norway. It turns out most of the people I meet speak English better than my Spanish which, though I needn't mention it again, is helpful but embarassing. In short I fudge through the evening well enough – but really there is no connection here yet and inevitably I have a few moments propped up against a wall on my own looking, in all proability, like I’m still waiting for a 93 bus.