Spotlight: Agustin Macarian Documents the Other Buenos Aires

By David Schonauer   Monday July 9, 2018

There is Buenos Aires, the city.

Argentina’s political and business center, also known as Capital Federal, is a bustling metropolis of 3 million where, despite a national recession, the steakhouses are full, the rose gardens are in bloom, and grand avenues hum with the city’s iconic black and yellow taxis.

A decade and a half ago, the city was in dire straits, as the nation’s economy imploded — a period Argentinians still refer to as la crisis. Right-leaning businessman Mauricio Macri was elected mayor and his success at transforming the city propelled him to Argentina’s presidency in 2015.

The promise was that Macri would bring the calm, technocratic order of Buenos Aires to Argentina as a whole. But, notes Americas Quarterly  magazine, that mission is a formidable one: For his government to succeed, Macri will have to bring relief to another Buenos Aires — the province surrounding the city, which carries the same name but is vastly bigger, and poorer.

“In some areas of [the province], only one in three adults has a formal job — the rest are unemployed, or labor in the black market. Many roads are unpaved,” notes AQ writer Brian Winter. “Floods are frequent and deadly. Entire neighborhoods are controlled by drug gangs, “express kidnappings” and assaults are common, and misery in the bad areas is comparable to the worst Brazilian favelas or Colombian comunas.”

For its look at that other Buenos Aires, Americas Quarterly sent Argentinian photojournalist Agustin Macarian  to Lomas de Zamora, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires city, to document life.

“I walked the city with some neighbors who helped introduce me to people; they let me go inside their homes and work places,” says Macarian. One of the places he photographed was a local butcher shop.

“I liked the environment there — especially the violet light reflecting over the meat and the butcher's face,” Macarian says. “I thought that the walls, with the humidity and the single light bulb, gave a great ambience for a picture.”

Macarian’s photograph of the butcher in Lomas (at top) was later named a winner of the Latin American Fotografía 6  competition.

Macarian has been working as a photojournalist since 2013, stringing for news services including Reuters, Associated Press, and Getty Images, as well as local media such as Infobae and La Nacion. His images have also appeared in The New York Times. Below is a selection of his work.

“My job gives me the opportunity to be in contact with people from different areas and economic strata, like the butcher, for example,” he says. “But the next day I could be in an event with the president, at a football stadium, or in a demonstration taking cover from the stones and tear gas. And I love it!”

See Macarian Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.


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