Gerardo Korn captures vintage cars, archaeological neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires

Noted German-Argentine photographer Gerardo Korn combines his eternal love for Buenos Aires, the so-called Paris of South America with his childhood fascination for cars. Some of the models featured in his project include the likes of Torino, Dodge, Rambler, Peugeot, Chevy, Chevrolet, among others, of the late 1960s and '70s.

FP Staff September 13, 2020 01:08:36 IST
Gerardo Korn captures vintage cars, archaeological neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires
Gerardo Korn captures vintage cars archaeological neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires

As part of his latest project, a virtual exhibition titled 'Cars in the Night - Buenos Aires', noted German-Argentine photographer Gerardo Korn unites his recurring need of 'connecting with and immersing' himself into the city of Buenos Aires with his affection for cars, especially those that marked his youth and childhood during the late '60s and the '70s. | In the picture: Torino, Villa Crespo neighbourhood, 2019. The vehicle portrayed is a car that was very popular and appreciated in Argentina, named Torino (Pampa's bull in Italian and a reference to the famous Cavallino from Ferrari), based on an American car.

Gerardo Korn captures vintage cars archaeological neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires

In the federal district of Buenos Aires (Capital Federal) there aren’t many vintage cars left parked on the street and out in the open. It is like an archaeological exploration that must be faced without destination, attentive to any surprise that may come around a corner. | In the picture: Torino, Barracas neighbourhood, 2019. This Torino is a four-door sedan. Korn discovered it in an area where there are still many colonial-style houses and old warehouses. The school in the background gives the perfect framework for this colourful ensemble.

Gerardo Korn captures vintage cars archaeological neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires

Nonetheless, Korn did set out to explore all the city's neighbourhoods, which, being forty-eight, are not few. He travelled through the lanes and alleys of Buenos Aires on foot, mostly during the autumn and winter months, when there are fewer people on the streets; the naked trees, devoid of any leaves, are often seen casting intriguing shadows on the buildings. | In the picture: Fiat, Versalles neighbourhood, 2019. The little Fiat 600, in Buenos Aires, is affectionately called "bolita", which means small sphere. Parked in front of the strangely pruned tree, it produced an image with a kitsch aesthetic that immediately caught the attention of Korn's camera.

Gerardo Korn captures vintage cars archaeological neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires

Korn says he admires and marvels at how photographers like the great Eugene Atget, would carry a bulky wooden view camera, a tripod, and glass negatives in heavy wooden holders — almost forty pounds worth of equipment — through the city of Paris, even at their old age. While for him, at the age of 57, walking for hours and hours in the dark, with his tripod on his back resulted in some "unpleasant" pulls and aches around his waist. | In the picture: Volkswagen, Balvanera neighbourhood, 2019. This car from the early '80s may not be that impressive, but the scenery certainly is. A classic and elegant facade, typical of Buenos Aires, which fortunately has been preserved and cared for.

Gerardo Korn captures vintage cars archaeological neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires

When Korn talks about the search for cars, he also confesses that it was immediately combined with the need to find appropriate settings, that is, the images had to be decorated as much as possible by that great variety of facades that are so characteristic of the city. | In the picture: Peugeot, Villa Real neighbourhood, 2019. Of this picture, in particular, Korn says that while he had immersed himself in an area of the city that was totally unknown to him and where he had never been, he found this melancholic looking Peugeot in front of a wall on which the branches of a tree were dramatically reflected, offering a unique spectacle.

Gerardo Korn captures vintage cars archaeological neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires

In addition, these scenes had to be correctly illuminated by the street lamps (meaning that the car had to be parked in the right place, which unfortunately was not always the case), without dazzling the lens. | In the picture: Dodge, Monte Castro neighbourhood, 2019. This is another photograph taken in an area that was completely unknown to Korn, of a car that in its time was a luxury limousine, golden in colour, standing in front of an old colonial house of a similar shade, as if both the car and the scenery had agreed on it.

Gerardo Korn captures vintage cars archaeological neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires

Not so long ago the city of Buenos Aires introduced LED technology to illuminate its streets, which can give the settings studio-like lighting. That allowed Korn to limit the exposure time of the photos to no more than forty seconds, which was a challenge given the traffic in the city never stops and a period of time of such length may seem like an eternity. | In the picture: Rambler, Flores neighbourhood, 2019. In the first weeks of the project, Korn often wondered if he would ever come across one of the Rambler models. More than a possibility, it was a dream. But this one, a Rambler limousine from the 60s, was waiting for him and he calls it an "icing on the cake".

Gerardo Korn captures vintage cars archaeological neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires

It might be worth mentioning that all the vehicles documented in Korn's project were manufactured in Argentina, a country that has always had an important automotive industry. | In the picture: Valiant, Villa Urquiza neighbourhood, 2019. There are almost no cars left on the streets of this model, a Valiant from the early '60s which would definitely look good in a Batman movie. For Korn, it generates a certain nostalgia in him, since it was the first car his parents had and it's the first car he has any memory of. This car was parked on a busy street with a lot of traffic, so it was impossible not to see some of it in the picture, hence the light trail.

Gerardo Korn captures vintage cars archaeological neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires

As audiences today are engaging with virtual exhibitions given the current world scenario, the photographs of Korn have a mysterious effect. Although shot before the coronavirus outbreak became a global pandemic, Korn's images reflect that even though streets are deserted and life may seem amiss, it is a good time for introspection and a journey within. | In the picture: Chevrolet, La Paternal neighbourhood, 2019. While Korn was desperate to find a Chevrolet for this project, he didn't expect to find one in front of such a beautiful townhouse, typical of some areas of Buenos Aires and which he considers "urban jewels". The canister on the car's roof has a special significance: in Argentina, putting an empty bottle or canister on the roof of a car means it's for sale.

Gerardo Korn captures vintage cars archaeological neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires

Gerard Korn's virtual exhibition, Cars in the Night - Buenos Aires, in collaboration with The Consulate General and Promotion Centre of the Argentine Republic, Mumbai went live on 27 August and is available on display at Cosmic Heart Gallery's website. On the virtual exhibition, Jalpa H Vithalani, the creative head and director of Cosmic Heart Gallery said, "The parked cars are symbolic of having been forced to park ourselves, in some sort of timeless limbo, while a vehicle is symbolic of movement, but here it represents stillness and harmony. It is important we hold both these frequencies, especially in the present times." | In the picture: Ford, Palermo neighbourhood, 2020. This is the last photo of the project and the first picture that Korn made this year, one morning in early January, at the Costanera Norte Riverside Drive, where the Río de la Plata river looks like the sea. This picture's setting bears an uncanny resemblance to Mumbai's Marine Drive.

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