‘Knowing each other is an art’: Photos, animations and sound works made by artists with Down syndrome

The sample can be seen in Espacio Cultural Carlos Gardel. //Press Photo

“Knowing each other is an art” gives its title to the already traditional sample which brings together photos, drawings, paintings, animations and sound works made in artist training workshops for people with Down syndrome, which this year, on their post-pandemic return, can be seen from December 15 to 21 at the Espacio Buenos Aires Cultural Carlos Gardel.

Photographs that investigate the macro and the micro of everyday objects, drawings that explore the four elements (earth, water, fire and air); Homemade animations and artifacts to watch, such as projectors and dark cameras, or a place dedicated to listening and sound improvisation are the proposals that this year brings the sample of the Down Syndrome Association of the Argentine Republic (Asdra).

The exhibition -which can be seen at Olleros 3640, CABA, from Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. with free admission- is the result of work in the open workshops that For seven years artists and educators have been working with young people and adults; 40 of them are the ones who will exhibit next week.

With the artistic direction by Lorena Alfonsothe workshops are proposed expand creativity, work on the techniques and tools of each discipline and broaden the cultural perspective through visits to museums and artistic spaces.

There are five annual workshops quite intensive than They last between a month and a month and a half.which is attended by between 10 and 15 students, some new and others who have been coming for several years and who learn new things with each participation,” he tells Télam Alfonso.

“For the sample that tries to give an account of what was done during the year in those classes, they think very well how to exhibit that work – indicates Alfonso -. For example, for the music classes what we did in previous years was a live gig, but this year there will be headphones connected to an mp3 with the recordings of what they were working on in the workshop without much post-production, almost raw, from the zapada to the little programs for the cell phone that were downloaded to experiment.”

In the expanded film workshopFor example, this year they worked with camera obscuras and built artifacts, which is why in the exhibition there will be two camera obscuras -an ancestral device that led to the development of photography-, with some instructions so that people can also play in the room, some animated gift and cyanotypes, images resulting from a monochrome photographic process, which achieves a negative copy of the original in a Prussian blue color, called a cyanotype.

“It was something quite experimental and artisanal -says Alfonso-, because they worked from the place where the first games of light with photography were investigated”, resulting in phantasmagorical and very dreamlike and poetic images.

The most important of these workshops, asserts, “is that students can find a channel of expressiveness through which they can develop their creative abilitiesFind out what motivates them the most. Many students try two or three workshops and then stay in drawing, for example, it is impressive to see how each one develops her image over time. They are true artists: constantly searching and experimenting.”

Valentine is 27 years old and is one of the repeat offenders of these workshops. “Art is life,” he tells Télam in a zoom chat from his house. The Beatles shirt he is wearing is because he loves that band, he will indicate during the conversation. The painting behind him is his work, a super-colorful expressionist rural landscape “from many years ago,” he clarifies.

Valen, as those who know her tell her, can spend a whole night painting a picture -“I love it” she says-, and she doesn’t stop until she considers it finished.

With that passion for painting interspersed the guitar and photographyShe has a digital Nikon that she manipulates with ease and that she uses to portray what interests her: friends, colleagues, her boyfriend, some tasks that are asked of her in the workshop.

Now it is very impacted with the movie “The night of the pencils” that was shown to him at school and he usually stops to read the names of the tiles because of the memory he finds in his neighborhood and on all the sidewalks he walks on.

It can be a feverish and vast producer, heterogeneous: from the meticulous and ultra-neat painting of the mandalas or the intervention of your favorite songs from The Beatles, going through the photo to those paintings that can keep you focused and active for very long hours.

The creativity that develops in these workshops is very powerful. -says Alfonso-, the issue is that there are no filters. The production capacity they have is very impressive. Based on a slogan like this year, for example, in which the drawing workshop worked on the four elements -water, fire, air, earth-, some students concentrate on a single drawing for the whole class, paying attention to details, others make 20, automatically”.

The age range is wide. “There are students who go from very young, three or four years old, and the oldest are 30,” says Alfonso, and the number fluctuated greatly between the years of isolation and the pre and post pandemic. “Until 2019 we had 15 to 20 people per workshop, a number that during the toughest restrictions due to Covid at least doubled,” he said.

“What happens a lot, as with everything free -he remarks-, is that many people sign up and then do not maintain the momentum. We convey that there must be a responsibility and a commitment when signing up to attend, because they are laborious workshops to coordinate and these spaces are inhabited by presence”.

During the virtual workshops of the 2020 pandemic Alfonso points out, “suddenly in a class there were 45 people from all over the world -Córdoba, Mendoza, Colombia- and since we tried to be inclusive, from Tucumán, for example, two little brothers signed up who did not have Down syndrome and who lived perfectly well in the expanded film workshop”, graphic Alfonso.

In 2021 virtuality was repeated but doing those workshops from museums, in 2022 there is this return to face-to-face and in 2023 “we hope to add some virtual workshops, in addition to intensive sessions that our teachers will give in Entre Ríos, for teachers”, he says goodbye Alfonso.


The Asdra Art Project “It is very important because it offers a space for expression and meeting in a context of diversity and it is precisely through expression and encounter in a plural and open environment where inclusion becomes culture”, he said for his part Pedro Crespi, executive director of Adra.

“In 2023 we will continue with the artistic workshops and I can anticipate that we will do an exhibition in the Buenos Aires Legislature to celebrate the 34 years of life of our institution,” added Crespi.

Asdra is a non-profit public welfare civil association founded in 1988 by a group of mothers and fathers with children with Down syndrome to “improve their quality of life”, “promote inclusion in all areas: family, school, work and social life in general” and “grow and develop in a context of diversity”.

We wish to give thanks to the writer of this short article for this remarkable material

‘Knowing each other is an art’: Photos, animations and sound works made by artists with Down syndrome

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