Buenos Aires has always been a place where distinguished artists, writers and scientists have got together to discuss and share their work. One of the historic hubs of such cultural activity is Villa Ocampo, the magnificent house that Victoria Ocampo donated to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in the 1940s.
Located in Béccar, 17 kilometers away from Buenos Aires city and two blocks away from Avenida del Libertador, the cultural observatory is now host to the exhibition that commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Genbaku Dome, the UNESCO Heritage Site in Hiroshima. Designed by Masako Kano, a Japanese artist and photographer, the pieces are meant to depict the atomic bomb dropped in August 1945 and the damage inflicted to human lives and the natural environment as a result.
The trio of photos “Internal Exposure I, II & III” reflect their title. Based on a woman’s powerful testimony recalling the effects of the radiation more than 4 kilometers away from the epicenter of the explosion, the series of pictures show a flower from its exterior to within. The flower is intended to be a metaphor for the woman’s 15-year-old body absorbing the harmful radiation. The survivor, called Miyako Yano, can be also be seen at the exhibit in a recorded conversation with Masako.
Perhaps the most meaningful message sent by Masako’s exhibition in a word? Peace. Her message is made clear through the “Migrating to each corner of the World and to your Heart” installation, which displays more than 2,000 paper cranes suspended over a Genbaku Dome replica. Cranes have become an international symbol for peace thanks to the 1977 best-selling children’s book by Canadian-American author Eleanor Coerr. Coerr in fact based her fictional narration upon the real life story of Sadako Sakai.
Sadako was only 2 years old when the bomb was dropped, but she was diagnosed with leukemia a decade later. Aged only 12, she spent her time in hospital folding origami paper cranes, or orizuru, hoping to make a thousand of them and getting her wish of living granted, following an old Japanese legend. By the time of her death, on October 1955, she had managed to make only 644 orizuru. The rest were made by her family and friends.
Guided tours, definitely a must, last 45 minutes and there’s a quiet and peaceful café to have a cool drink and enjoy a picada while looking at the beautiful gardens at the back of the house. With any luck, the three resident white ducks will pass by and say hello.
Observatorio Villa Ocampo | Elortondo 1837, Béccar, Buenos Aires Province
How to get there?
You can get there by bus (60) or by train (Beccar station of the Mitre line that makes Retiro-Tigre).
Now until February 5th.
Wednesday to Sunday from 12.30 PM to 7 PM.
Guided tours are on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 3 PM and 4.30 PM
Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 2 PM, hourly. No prior confirmation necessary.
General tickets are AR $50.