Innovative: Disused power plant turns into art hub

Updated 30 May 2012
0

Innovative: Disused power plant turns into art hub

An abandoned power plant in Buenos Aires dating back to the early 20th century has been transformed into a cultural center, a key part of plans to revitalize the “poor” south of Argentina’s capital.
The old brick factory topped with a giant tower, built by the Italian-Argentine electricity company from 1914 to 1916 by Italian architect Giovanni Chiogna, had been nearly forgotten along the highway to La Plata.
Now, in the middle of the working class La Boca district, not far from the famed “La Bombonera” stadium where the Boca Juniors club plays, the so-called “Art Factory” (Usina del Arte) is gleaming and attracting new attention.
Beams of light high in the sky installed by Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda symbolize the hope for the renaissance of the area, thanks to the new center dedicated to music, theater, dance and art, which opened its doors on Friday.
“This brings hope to the south of Buenos Aires, which suffered from decades of abandon,” said the city’s Mayor Mauricio Macri.
“The entire government wants to leave the center of town and move to the south,” he said, hoping that eventually, a better north-south balance will be struck in terms of the city’s development.
Most of the chic residential areas in Buenos Aires are in the north of town, while the poor have been left to inhabit the south of the capital.
The effort to revitalize the city is based in part on the creation or renovation of a series of museums and art spaces, such as the Proa Foundation in La Boca or the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art in neighboring San Telmo.
The city’s Culture Secretary Hernan Lombardi said the grand entrance of the Usina del Arte “is something like the Tate Modern in London, but we will not only showcase the visual arts.”
He told AFP that he was betting on the “gentrification” of the area in the coming years, as the new attractions help boost the neighborhood’s fortunes. “The management style will be key,” he said. A total of 120 million pesos ($26.9 million) have been poured into the Usina del Arte project, and organizers want a system under which Art Director Ricardo Szwarcer will be able to work freely and efficiently.
The 64-year-old Szwarcer, an Argentine who previously served as the artistic director of the Opera de Lille, seems happy to have come home to work on such an ambitious initiative.
“This is a 21st century cultural center — a place that is changing, a multifaceted project open to all disciplines, that is irreverent and without prejudices,” he said. “We’ll have all kinds of music, including electronica.”
“One of our goals is to safeguard local traditions like the ‘fileteado,’” he said, referring to a type of artistic drawing created in Buenos Aires a century ago and which has now become an emblematic art form for the capital.
The Usina del Arte will host programs that try to attract residents from lower-income neighborhoods.
Just behind Szwarcer are a group of children hanging from a rather high window, sparking general surprise to all around them.
They are experiencing “The Building,” an installation by Argentine artist Leandro Erlich, which features the facade of an old Buenos Aires building on the floor that is then reflected in trompe-l’oeil style in a mirror on a wall.
“All of my work has some element of participation — art as a means of integration,” said Erlich, 39.
FROM: Agence France Presse


‘Kim Jong Un’ poses for selfies in Singapore ahead of Trump summit

Updated 28 May 2018
0

‘Kim Jong Un’ poses for selfies in Singapore ahead of Trump summit

SINGAPORE: Surprised Singaporeans pursued North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday before realizing the portly man with slick black hair near the Marina Bay Sands hotel was an impersonator.
“It looked like the real Kim Jong Un, but later I realized it’s not the real one,” said Sagar Admuthe who was visiting from Mumbai, India, after several selfies with the doppleganger against a backdrop of the city’s bay.
“When you see him, it’s very difficult to make out.”
The Australian-Chinese man posing as the North Korean leader calls himself only Howard X and said he was appearing to wish success for a summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump to negotiate an end to the North’s nuclear program.
Howard X also made an appearance as Kim at the Winter Olympics in Gangneung in South Korea in February, bewildering North Korean cheerleaders who initially thought their leader had walked into a hockey stadium.
“I think the two leaders will sit down and they’re going to have a great time, because really they have the same personality,” he said on Sunday. “They are going to be best friends right after this meeting.”|
Trump signalled that preparations for a June 12 summit with Kim were going ahead, despite having called it off last week, and a White House team was scheduled to depart for Singapore this weekend to prepare for the possible summit.
Howard X said Kim’s rise as the third leader of North Korea in 2011 has proved lucrative for him, jump starting a new career in films, commercials and private functions, most often in his home town of Hong Kong.
“I said that guy looks a lot like me, and I thought, wow, I need to do something with this and make some money,” Howard X added.
“This is my normal body,” he said, when asked if he had to put on weight to impersonate the North’s leader. “But he’s fatter, and I can’t catch up ... it’ll damage my health.”
Howard X, who is a musician by training and said he still produces Brazilian music sung in Chinese, said his partner known as Dennis Alan impersonates Trump. Although he could not join him this week, both will return before the summit.
“Hey Donald, I’m already in Singapore, waiting for you to turn up,” Howard X said.