Below are portraits of the people at Comedor Los Pibes, La Boca, Argentina. This is not everyone who works there and there are also a few children included and they either have parents that work there or attend one of the after-school studies.
The Comedor Los Pibes can best be described as a social organization. They began over 12 years ago with many other comedors (estimated @300 in the city at this time) as something akin to a soup kitchen. The main goal was to provide lunch and groceries to its members. Today the Comedor helps over 120 families in one of the poorest barrios in La Boca. Some families live off of nothing but a government plan of about $150 pesos (@50USD) per month. The Comedor is divided into several sections: the kitchen which makes the lunch and the other half that organizes and doles out groceries to members, the textile group which sews and does screen printing, administration which runs the Comedor and helps members with filing any government papers or obtaining a national identification card and organizing members for the protests the Comedor attends, and a public relations team.
I don’t particularly want to delve into the politics of the Comedor right now. I don’t believe I could do the conversation justice yet because I am still trying to formulate what I am told, with what I observe and what I think. I’ll bend a few brain cells to it yet.
I have, however, been thinking about what you should take away from seeing these images. I can spout about politics, poverty, humanity and any number of big idea themes, but I think what I keep going back to, why I keep looking at the images, is just to see the people. I may see something others do not as I have a history with many of these people. I’ve been hanging out, asking questions and observing around the Comedor for over 8 months now. You get to know people a little bit by then, even with language differences.
So what should you take away from this collection of images? Why look at them at all (which I certainly hope you take the time to do so)? Lets get back to humanity. Put aside the politics, put aside the cultural differences, stop and look at the people. Look at the clothing, the facial expressions, the eyes. A note: I would ask people over for the photo and I had set my portable studio up in the the Comedor, and then I would let them stand there for a minute or two. We might chat a bit or we might not. I wanted to give as little direction as possible. What you see is in obvious reaction to me. All engaged the camera. I am as much a part of each photo as my subject.
I welcome feedback and ideas. Another note, this one on technical issues: I shot both digital, Nikon D700 and 120mm film, Mamiya 645afd. The images you see come from the Nikon. It is much faster, easier and cost effective to get those online. I am working on having the negatives scanned, but my budget only allows so much at one time.
ALL IMAGES ARE COPYRIGHT ©2008, 2009 Caitlin Margaret Kelly, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. PLEASE DON’T STEAL IMAGES. ASK ME BECAUSE IF YOU’VE GOT A GOOD CASE I’M MOST LIKELY TO LET YOU USE THEM.