Eric Fichtl


Photos from one of my favourite countries – from cosmopolitan Buenos Aires and its thriving streets, to stunning nature in the high Andes and the far reaches of Patagonia. I'm nostalgic already.

<p>Members of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo carry a banner displaying portraits of their relatives disappeared by Argentina's military junta of 1976-1983. <br /></p>
<p>Mothers, grandmothers, and other relatives began these marches during the dictatorship, gathering each Thursday at the Plaza de Mayo to demand accountability and justice for their missing loved ones. Their movement adopted the name of the square. <br /></p>
<p>This photo was taken in 1999, 22 years after they had commenced their rallies. They continue marching to this day.</p>
<p>The gentrification of Buenos Aires' Puerto Madero district had not reached very far in the late 1990s. The now-prized warehouses were in various states of dereliction at the time, like this one.</p>
<p>Argentine trade unionists rally amid a forest of flags at the Plaza del Congreso. </p>
<p>The back room at El Palacio de la Pizza, one of the classic pizzerias along Avenida Corrientes. </p>
<p>A view up one of Buenos Aires' main boulevards, Avenida Callao.</p>
<p><em>Autoconvocados</em> (self-organised protestors) from Corrientes province, in Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo. Argentina has a rich tradition of autonomous worker movements who eschew formal affiliations with unions or political parties, yet can successfully mount sustained popular protests around shared concerns. <br /></p>
<p>In these protests in 1999, a diverse front of teachers, state employees, farmers, pensioners, healthcare workers, small business owners, transport workers, and the un(der)employed organised months-long demonstrations against government corruption, unpaid wages, and diminishing quality of life in their province. Using tactics such as strikes, roadblocks, <em>escraches</em> (loud demonstrations outside the homes of targeted individuals), and mass marches, they amplified their call for reforms. Six months in, the Corrientes <em>autoconvocados</em> had even brought their protests to the national capital. <br /></p>
<p>Their concerns and protests were an early indicator of the grim politico-economic meltdown that was about to ravage the entire country. </p>
<p>Police forces watch over protests in Plaza de Mayo, with a water cannon at the ready. Demonstrators from the northern province of Corrientes had come to the centre of Argentine political power to protest corruption and deteriorating conditions. </p>
<p>An outline commemorating the Argentine journalist José Luis Cabezas, who was kidnapped and murdered in 1997 while investigating a gangster with links to the country's then-president, Carlos Menem. <br /></p><p>Cabezas' murder became an emblematic symbol of corruption at the top levels of government, and the popular slogan 'Don't forget Cabezas' an expression of the public's dismay at official impunity.</p>
<p>Lago Escondido at dusk.</p>
<p>Porteños relaxing in Parque Lezama.</p>
<p>A clearing in a forest in Argentina's far south.<br /></p>
<p>A mural commemorating the disappeared victims of the 1976-1983 military dictatorship in Argentina. <br /></p>
<p>Attempts to deface the mural show the staying power of the country's reactionaries – between the 9 and 7 some fascist even scraped AAA, acronym of the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance, a far-right death squad that emerged in the late Perón years and murdered some 1100-1500 people. Argentina's post-dictatorship judiciary later found the AAA guilty of crimes against humanity.</p>
<p>Neglect takes its toll on a mausoleum in the Recoleta Cemetery. <br /></p>
<p>An explosion of colour in the autumn leaves.</p>
<p>Mother and pup sea lions (lobos marinos) rest on a rocky outcrop in the Beagle Channel, some kilometres offshore from Ushuaia.</p>
<p>A shutter on a balcony in Buenos Aires.</p>
<p>Demonstrators from the province of Corrientes took their case to the presidential palace on Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo. They were part of broad-based civic movement spearheaded by teachers who were protesting unpaid wages, deteriorating quality of life, and corruption concerns in their provincial government in 1999 – in many ways precursors to the broader meltdown that ravaged Argentina in 2001.</p><p>Her sign reads, 'My struggle will not be in vain, as I am a part of this new history of Corrientes, which I will proudly bring to the classrooms'.</p>
<p>Some of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo prepare to air their calls for justice directly at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires. Their intense expressions match the determination they have shown in their decades-long struggle for accountability.</p>
<p>'Memory' and 'vote blank' – two slogans summarising popular exasperation with the post-dictatorship Argentine political landscape. <br /></p>
<p>The buzz of Calle Florida, in central Buenos Aires, Argentina.</p>
<p>A commuter catches some some shut-eye on one of Buenos Aires' vintage subway carriages. The system dates from 1913, while the wooden cars on Lí­nea A were built only a few years later and are still in use.</p>
<p>A woman waits at a level crossing in Buenos Aires.</p>
<p>In Buenos Aires, a stencil proclaims 'The dingo ate my baby' beside a sticker of a local variant of Shepard Fairey's 'Obey' giant. That is, an Australian mother's cry of despair from a real-life case in 1980, channeled by Meryl Streep in a 1988 US film and amplified to absurdity in 1990s TV series from <em>Seinfeld</em> to <em>The Simpsons</em>, appears alongside a sticker riffing on a US street artist's work (itself a rendering of Andre the Giant, a deceased pro wrestler, paired with a line from a 1988 John Carpenter film, <em>They Live</em>) while invoking the arcane Spanish verb form barely used outside Iberia or churches – and they somehow come together on an electric box in Argentina's capital in 2015. It sort of makes sense. Or not. No idea.</p>
<p>Sparse traffic on Avenida Santa Fe, shot from nine storeys above.<br /></p>
<p>A view shot from a prized window seat in a café along Buenos Aires' Avenida Corrientes. Despite the blustery weather, the avenue is still animated. Across the street is Café La Paz, something of an institution (still operating, but since remodeled away from this 90s po-mo look).</p>
<p>The stairwell as seen from the courtyard of this modest hotel in San Telmo. It was my temporary home when I moved to Buenos Aires in 1997 and started my search for a flat. I love this picture.</p>
<p>A group of admirers at the tomb of Carlos Gardel, the great tango singer who died in a plane crash in 1935. The men gathered regularly at the grave in Chacarita Cemetery, trading stories, lyrics, and photos. They all shared the view that with each passing year, Gardel sings better.</p>
<p>A view of the Uspallata Pass, high in the Andes. <br /></p>
<p>A plaque in the pavement commemorates Maria Claudia Falcone, a 16-year-old high school student and activist disappeared by the Argentine military dictatorship of 1976-1983. The plaque is an example of Argentina's active memory culture. It reads, in part:</p>
<p><em>Kidnapped in La Plata during the 'Night of the Pencils'.<br />1999 – EMEM 7 school renamed after her. <br />Educational Community of the EMEM Schools and Neighbourhoods for Memory and Justice.</em></p>
<p>'In democracy and dictatorship, the state tortures you.' A tag capturing a certain Argentine nihilism.</p>
<p>A street in San Telmo wakes up with a bit of a hangover.</p>
<p>'Your car pollutes my world'. A clear message on a Buenos Aires bench.</p>
<p>A winter afternoon at the corner of Lavalle and Suipacha, entering the Microcentro.<br /></p>
<p>An elegant flat with improbably narrow top floors at the corner of Juncal and Montevideo. </p>