October 31, 2011
Extranjeros #1 - Estefanía and Paz

originally published on WhatsUpBuenosAires.com

We love new article series! I´ve been dreaming of beginning this one for a while now. As an expat myself I can´t help but feel linked in a long and tangled chain to every other foreigner in this city. Paz Olivares-Droguett and Estefanía Salas couldn´t exemplify that more. It started with a Canadian named Lindsay who I met outside of a lecture about music and technology led by Gaby Kerpel. He invited me to have dinner at his house where I met Paz and Estefanía, two Chilean exchange students who he had met through some Colombian dancers. Phew. These two smiley young creatives told me about their photographic project Ame, which is a kind of cool-hunting for love. After a long chat I knew they would be perfect pair to open up the series. So without any further adieu:

Where are you from, what did you do before you came here?

Paz: I was born and raised in Valparaíso, Chile. Over there I did more or less than same as here, independent projects like illustrations or books and different photography projects.

Estefanía: I´m from Valparaíso also, I graduated with a degree in History and Political Science. I love art and design, I´m a beauty junkie, I love to see and do beautiful things and share and enjoy them, being able to live from that is my finish line.

How did you two meet?

Paz: Estefanía and I met in an art direction class here in Buenos Aires, the strange thing is that we both live in Valparaíso and we never met each other although we have a lot of mutual friends.

Estefanía: We began to talk and when I told her that all I wanted to do was a project related to creating D.I.Y celebrations, weddings with an audiovisual and photographic focus I was shocked when she told me that she had won a prize in Chile for the same exact thing. Then and there we realized that we we´re going to do things together. But since we´ve just started the project, we haven´t had an opportunity to plan a wedding celebration. So we decided, in order to get ourselves out there and show our work, to start doing photo shoots of interesting couples, and also decorate for events whenever we can, like for the opening party of Incan Feather Gang.

Paz: The project is called Ame. It´s always changing, I think that´s the positive thing about the project itself, every time something new comes up we are able to develop it from a fresh look. We aren´t predisposed to doing everything any one way. Wedding planning is so restricted. The bride has to wear a dress that looks like a costume and that she´ll never put on again. The photos have to be a certain way, always with the guests seated at their table, which I absolutely hate. No one thinks to do something more creative, explore other options. In class when you offer a different idea they look at you like you´re crazy. I want people to know that the possibilities are as infinite as people are and that whatever you have in your mind is possible.

How do you guys find the people you take photos of? Is there a certain type or look you search for?

Estefanía: When we´re walking around, we pay attention to the couples walking around. We talk about their look, the aesthetic, the idea is that they transmit something. They could be hippies or hipsters, or maybe even an old couple, it doesn´t really matter. But when we say “that one!” one of us has to go up to them and explain our project and ask if they are willing to have their photo taken. There´s been some couples that think it´s strange and you can see they are uncomfortable, others that laugh and relax.

Paz: I don´t think the project is defined by an established aesthetic. It´s an energy that someone has, who cares if you´re beautiful or not, it´s a celebration of love, you don´t have to be a model to have beautiful pictures taken of you. I think that independent cinema has given us a great gift, because before they filled your head and the screen with this non-existent idealism, but in independent movies you can see yourself or your friends, you feel represented and realize that beauty is all around us, and with a well positioned camera you can start to see the world from a different perspective.

How do you envision your future wedding?

Paz: First we need boyfriends! But when I get married I would like a ceremony that makes sense to both of us.

Estefanía: Yeah that part is necessary! No, I don´t really know, something intimate, during the day, I would love to have it in the country or on the beach. Relaxed, rustic, underneath the sun with all the people I love, and fuchsias to decorate, pretty pictures and video on a Super 8. I don´t think I´d need anything else.

Let´s talk about Buenos Aires, what do you like about the city, and what are things you miss about Valparaíso?

Estefanía: I love the energy that the city has. There are a lot of people that want to do things, and they don´t limit themselves because of the money, they just do it. And I like that they don´t settle, when you go to an art show or see an independent project, there is a lot of quality, lots of work and love.

Paz: I love Buenos Aires, there are times when I´m walking around the city and I feel like I´ve reached the exact moment of falling out of love with the city, but then I fall back in love.

Will you two return to Chile?

Paz: Both of us will go back for the summer, but I´m going to come back in March to continue studying and working here. Probably for at least another year before I go to live in Brazil.

Estefanía: I´m going to go back. I feel like there is a lot to do there. But I want to return as often as I can to this city, it would be wonderful to be able to do parallel projects or a collaboration with someone from here. It seems like it gets less and less difficult to do that, we have a lot left to do and share, we´re taking advantage that not everything is done. I really feel like the unique things are completely within reach and as long as you put forth passion and hard work.