15: the number assigned to identify the slum "Ciudad Oculta", or Hidden City, located in the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
ph15: a space where a group of kids from this particular slum are encouraged to express their personal views through the use of photography. In this workshop they explore wh
o they are and what they feel.
ph15 is a space for creativity and expression through the use of photography. The students are young adolescents who live in Villa 15, (slum 15), also known as the "Hidden City" located in the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
The workshop began in August 2000 as a result of a chance encounter between photographer Martin Rosenthal and a group of kids from the slum who were eager to learn photography. Today, classes are held every Saturday morning in the slum. The classroom is located in a small building which runs diverse activities geared towards improving the life conditions in the slum. It is run by Valmir S. Vieira. The photography classes are run and supervised by Martin Rosenthal and four other collaborators/ faculty.
The focus of the ph15 workshop is fully oriented towards the use of photography as a way for personal expression. One of the primordial issues in the classes is that the students integrate themselves to the group and develop a mind of their own. Through activities and discussions, the kids develop a sense of individuality and empowerment. By manifesting their thoughts and ideas about their daily environment, they become legitimate critics and observers of a part society condemned to urban poverty.
The class structure is built along the lines of an art school. Students are encouraged to participate and to investigate issues regarding photography as a medium as well as a language to conceive a personal message.
Each student is given a camera which they use as long as they are part of the project. These are "poor cameras"; plastic point-and-shoots loaded with (most of the time) expired black and white film. As the artists evolve in their personal projects, their cameras are made sure to always be loaded with film. Photography is encouraged to be present not only during their week days but also in the field trips organized by the faculty. These outings are considered to be very important because they provide the opportunity for the kids to interact with a different environment. Otherwise, the students would not have a reason to leave the slum.
During the week, the students are expected to continue with their personal photographic investigations, taking pictures and shaping their ideas. Every Saturday morning, the most recent material produced by each artist is shown in class and talked about as a group. Everyone has a say about decisions regarding which image is more effective than other. Discussions, critical thinking, arguments and dialogue is always encouraged.
Considering the technical limitations due to an extremely tight budget, the basics regarding camera behaviour, lighting, and lab processing and printing are covered. Classes are also structured to introduce photo history, contemporary artists, artists books, slide lectures, field trips and museum and gallery visits. It is also frequent to have local and international visiting artists attend the classes and show their work to the students.
The ph15 students are:
Ángel Alfonso (18 years old)
Nanci Alfonso (18 years old)
Eugenio Alfonso (24 years old)
Natalia Godoy (17 years old)
Gloria Paniagua (17 years old)
Pablo Altuve (27 years old)
Juan Alfonso (16 years old)
Paula Danese (17 years old)
María del Carmen Gonzalez (12 years old)
Samanta Córdoba (17 years old)
Mariela Paniagua (18 years old)
Director: Martín Rosenthal
Faculty: Martín Rosenthal, Moira Rubio, Miriam Priotti,
Guillermo Srodek-Hart y Doan Pham
Press: Moira Rubio
Graphic Designers: Lisa Brande y Lorena Marchetti
Web design: Artea
Our e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Showing the work produced by the PH15 students is one of the most important aspects of the project. The idea that art can be made and talked about only by a privileged part of society is shadowed by the numerous shows PH15 has had during the course of its existence. The involvement of each PH15 student is mandatory during the whole process: selecti
on, edition, mounting, framing, hanging...be it the small hall of a local movie theatre or in a major cultural center, the idea is that of direct involvement as a way to make things happen.
*Sonoridad Amarilla, Buenos Aires (July 2004)
*Barrio Copello Cultural Center, Buenos Aires (June 2004)
*'El Progreso' Movie Theatre, Buenos Aires (May 2004)
*North Dakota Museum of Art, ND, USA (February 2004)
*MUGAFO - Pasaje Dardo Rocha, La Plata, (December 2003)
*Liniers Hides Market, Buenos Aires (November 2003)
*Recoleta Cultural Center, Buenos Aires (October 2003)
*Sur Cultural Center, Buenos Aires (July 2003)
*Conviven Center, Buenos Aires, (December 2002)
*Borges Cultural Center, Buenos Aires (August 2002), slide show as fund raiser for the comunal dining room for kids from the 'Los Piletones' neighbourhood, (August 2002)
*Museum of the Parks 'Carlos Thays', Buenos Aires (August 2002)
*Kindergarden n. 3, School District 20, Buenos Aires, (June 2002)
*Center for Management and Participation n. 8, Buenos Aires (May 2002)
*Mataderos Crafts Fair, Buenos Aires (April 2002)
*Traveling Cultural Tent, Mataderos, Buenos Aires (March 2002)
*Palais de Glace, Buenos Aires (December 2001)
*Civic Center, Bariloche - Province of Río Negro (December 2001).
*Ribera Theatre, Buenos Aires (August and September 2001).
*Argentine School of Photography, Buenos Aires (August 2001).
*Barrio Copello Cultural Center, Buenos Aires (June 2001).
*Motivarte School of Photography, Buenos Aires (April 2001).
*CIPEA, Buenos Aires (March 2001).
*Cepna Cultural Center, Buenos Aires (November 2000).
During March 2003, Martín Rosenthal was a visiting artist and lecturer in different North American universities. Some of these included Harvard University, Tufts University, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Princeton University and Rhode Island School of Design. There is a second invitation scheduled to take place between August and September 2004.
Selling images has become the main source for financing the project. Due to the fact that there is no sponsor willing to commit on a long-time basis, the workshop has survived mainly by donations from individuals and mostly by selling prints.
Whenever an image is sold, the total is split 50-50. Half of the money is given to the kid who shot the photo, and the other half is kept by the project. That money kept is then reinvested into buying more materials to keep the classes running.