In the last few weeks I was cycling around the city taking pictures of street signs for my video project. This brought me to various parts of the Buenos Aires, some less glamorous than others. One of these was Villa 1-11-14. In Argentina, a slum is popularly called “villa miseria”, or simply “villa”. Approximately 10% of the Buenos Aires population lives in these slums. According to the Argentinian writer Hugo Pezzini, a slum is “an organized organic post-hegemonic microcosm whose symbols and rational design are only understood by its post-hegemonic inhabitants, who are also its architects and engineers”.
I inadvertently found myself in Villa 1-11-14, the largest shantytown in the city. The first thing I saw was a high-speed car chase right out of a movie: both fugitive and police cars whizzed past me, jumping off road bumps then slamming on the asphalt. As I cycled through, there were gendarmes with machine guns patrolling entrances into this “post-hegemonic microcosm”. The streets were full of people staring at me – again, like in a slow-motion scene of a movie. Or was it my imagination? Still, I felt a tad uneasy. No pictures taken of buildings, people or the police – I didn’t think it was wise to do so.
However, a few minutes later, Villa 1-11-14 disappeared as abruptly as it appeared and I continued my hunt for street signs.
These weeks in numbers:
167 km – distance covered, a little better than previous weeks.
~275000 – people who live in the slums of Buenos Aires
150% – population increase in these slums since 2001
*Disclaimer: As I mentioned I did not take any pictures, these ones are taken from the web.