The exhibition, curated by Julia Rodrigues and Francesca Astesani of the Copenhagen-based curatorial initiative South into North, started as an exploration of parallels between the towns of Mar del Plata and Skagen observed by the artist Carla Zaccagnini and writer Santiago García Navarro. The artists began by thinking about the cultural life and legacy of these regions from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to develop a project that ended up being mainly about erratic encounters at a distance and the failure of communication. Combining their thoughts into a representational ecology of experience, moving forward as a cognitive collaboration between regions, space, and time.
From these parallels, the exhibition considers the destination culture given in the coastal regions of Argentina and Denmark. Looking sharply at the archeology of encounter scripted in the destination–in this case the beach resort–which as a typology of the contemporary holiday is solidly embedded as a staple of modernity. In their own words, Zaccagnini and García Navarro are “looking at the moment in which staying for holidays at the beach began to be a usual practice in Western countries.”
During their research, they found that the distance by car between Copenhagen and Skagen (414 km) is nearly the same as the one between Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata (404 km). One driving North, and the latter South. Among other things, the artworks in this exhibit reflect on the famous expression the “invention of the beach” (by the French historian Alain Corbin) that thinks of the beach as an existential innovation which emerges out of the contradictions withholding the modern subject.
Departing from this coincidence, the artist/writer decided to focus on a project rendered as a “trip of symmetries,” where García Navarro visited some iconic sites in Mar del Plata at the exact same time as Zaccagnini visited their counterparts in Skagen. This aesthetic and somatic synchronization was arranged to link these coastal towns and the travelers’ experiences in them. One stayed two nights at Hotel Petit in Skagen, the other having to change plans when finding that the Mar del Plata hotel of the same name was now closed. The time difference of five hours, the heaviest rain in the last fifteen years at the Argentinean beach resort during the two days, and the connection failures of contemporary technology, all contributed to several ruptures in the original plan. The little coincidences that emerge, both in the video documentation and in the memorabilia brought back from the parallel journeys, aim to stitch together the intimacy, surveillance, and dérive of scripted space, which together are encompassed by the resort, the harbour, the marina, the souvenirs, the individual, and of course, the Hotels Petit themselves.