Argentines

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Loli mendoza: on Tue 16 Aug 2011 12:24:56 AM ART

muy bueno Pablo! el epígrafe y las fotos :)

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Argentines

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ARGENTINES

I have always rejected “bully-patriotism”. This fake national pride taught at school through the compulsory wearing of the argentine pin, and singing of the national anthem. In themselves they meant nothing.

In my teenage heart, being an argentine was only a matter of sports. It was the feeling of being “Loco” (Crazy) Housemann (1) in black and white, driving the polish fullbacks insane. It was sweating Galindez´s (2) blood in furious ups and downs . It was - as very well put by “Gordo” (Fat) Porcel (3) – being Fangio (4) and Monzón (5). Apart from that, the name “Argentina” was but an empty sound produced by rigid military lips.

Blue and white were used to colour the most hypocritical campaigns: from the diabolic “Silence is healthy”(6), down to the indescribable “We are right/straight and human”(7).

Celestial colours that donned the “national self” and crowned it “Champion”, while backstage, thousands of Argentines were tortured and assassinated.

In the meantime, Chiche Gelblung (8) from every newsstand, and Llamas de Madariaga (9) on the TV screen, told us in full detail about the so-called anti-Argentine campaign abroad.

Ever since I can remember, a phrase is used as a motto by many. It says “Me?… I am an Argentine” as if it described a race above the rest with the alleged privilege to be permanently sitting on a fence.

It was under the shadow of this despicable option, and protected by “God is an Argentine” – another popular maxim – that we were stripped of everything, or we gradually lost it and destroyed it all, through our own means. We have nothing left but our T-shirt.

Our blue and white T-shirt… In the past few years, many people have begun wearing it in the street: at work, to go to the movies, to go shopping or garbage-rummaging. God forbid we lose that too, due to some distraction. It would almost be like losing our skin.

For the past two years I have been portraying people in their everyday life, with their Argentina T-shirt on, and their inevitably sad face. I am very much impressed, moved by this silent way of communicating amongst us, of identifying ourselves.

These days something exploded in our country, and in our conscience… We cannot yet put our finger on it.

But, amid the racket of bullets, firecrackers and “cacerolas” (10), there seems to be a distant cry. One that shows anything but indifference.

It is not the stupid “Me?… I am an Argentine!”

It is not the bully “Argentine till death!”

It seems to state that “they will not take our T-shirt from us!” . A cry, sometimes followed by a question mark. // Pablo Garber, 2002

Notes:

(1) Loco (Crazy) Housemann was a very skillful – Maradona like - football player. He was part of the national team on 1974 World Cup. While being a popular star, he went on living in his maternal home, in a suburban slam. He had to finish his carrier because of his strong addiction to alcohol.

(2) Victor Galindez was a middleweight World Champion boxer. He was also a drunkard. He died in a car crash.

(3) El Gordo (Fat) Porcel was a vaudeville comedian. He used to play a foreigner who would always – and only - associate the name of Argentina to the middleweight World Champion boxer, Carlos Monzón, and the five times F-1 World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio. He lives now in Miami, and works as a preacher.

(4) Juan Manuel Fangio was five times F-1 World Champion in the fifties.

(5) Carlos Monzón was a middleweight World Champion boxer. Soon after he retired he was imprisoned for murdering his wife. When he finished his term of imprisonment he died in a car accident.

(6) “El silencio es salud” (silence is healthy) was a radio and TV propaganda campaign during the 1976-83 military dictatorship. Supposedly aimed to diminish annoying street noise, it was a clear menace to anyone who would dare think against the regime.

(7) “Los argentinos somos derechos y humanos” (Argentines are right/straight and human) was the slogan of another public campaign by the militaries. They distributed thousands of stickers with this maxim among scholars, taxi drivers, newstand keepers, and others, for them to spread them throughout the cities where an Amnesty International Commission was investigating Human Rights violations.

(8) Samuel “Chiche” Gelblung was the editor of magazine “Gente”, one of the strongest supporters of the dictatorship. He is now - and has been ever since - the presenter of various yellowish TV programs.

(9) Enrique Llamas de Madariaga was a spokesman of the militaries. Since then, he has been working on TV as a news presenter.

(10) “Cacerolas” are the pans that people beat in demonstrations against unpopular government decisions. Argentina´s former democratic president, Fernando de la Rua, was forced to dismiss under the noise of the “cacerolas” .