Alfredo Arias, Teatime (I), 2011, Glazed ceramic. 12 x 44 cm, Photographer: Gustavo Di Mario.

Juan Stoppani, Conejo [Rabbit], 2011, Acrylic on canvas. 167 x 195 cm, Photographer: Daniel Kiblisky.

In Search of Lost Time and Rembrance of las Tortas Past

Alfredo Arias, Patria, 2011, Glazed ceramic, 18 x 43 cm, Photographer: Gustavo Di Mario.

Alfredo Arias, Patria, 2011, Glazed ceramic, 18 x 43 cm, Photographer: Gustavo Di Mario.

Alfredo Arias, Patria, 2011, Glazed ceramic, 47 x 36 cm, Photographer: Gustavo Di Mario.

Alfredo Arias, Baptism, 2011, Glazed ceramic. 28 x 40 cm, Photographer: Gustavo Di Mario.

Alfredo Arias, Baptism, 2011, Glazed ceramic. 28 x 40 cm, Photographer: Gustavo Di Mario.

Alfredo Arias, Birthday, 2011, Glazed ceramic, 60 x 45 cm, Photographer: Gustavo Di Mario.

Alfredo Arias, Peras merengadas [Pears in meringue], 2011, Glazed ceramic, Photographer: Gustavo Di Mario.

 

Fundación Proa
Avenida Pedro de Mendoza 1929
[54-11] 4104-1000
Buenos Aires
Patria Petrona
Idea, Project, and Direction: Alfredo Arias
Collaborators: Pablo ramírez y Juan Stoppani
June 14-August 28, 2011

Patria Petrona, an homage to the Argentine cook Petrona C. De Gandulfo, is the brainchild of director, actor, and playwright Alfredo Arias — who in the last 40 years has become a fundamental figure in the world of theater. The exhibit serves as a nostalgic introspective into the fantasies created by las tortas (the cakes) of Doña Petrona. Designer Pablo Ramírez and artist Juan Stoppani work with Arias to create a multidimensional exhibit that includes ceramics, fashion, painting, and theater.

While Patria Petrona aims to relive the reverie of Petrona’s baking, it does so through contemporary means. Arias utilizes Petrona’s pictorial cookbook, which was edited more than 100 times, as a reference for the multifaceted exhibition and presents with it the various stages and states of life. Through an unorthodox combination of ceramic cakes, clothes, and paintings, the scenes created by Arias and his collaborators shed light on the conception of each individual item, all the while highlighting the importance of social unions.

The three-dimensional versions of Petrona’s cakes are possible through the “perfect unification of ceramics with the kitchen. The idea is that you can see the cakes; it’s the only way to prove their existence,” says Arias.

Pablo Ramírez designed the outfits accompanying the “cakes.” He affirms that “in each celebration there’s a ritual, and in each ritual there’s an outfit. No one eats cake without an outfit.”

The three cake paintings were done by Juan Stoppani, all which serve to amplify the represented scenes. Among them, we see the 5th wedding anniversary cake (known in Spanish as the bodas de oro cake), the bunny cake, and the Arrollado Caruso cake. In contrast to their ceramic counterparts, all allude more directly to the images found in Petrona’s cookbook.

It is important to keep in mind the sociohistorical context enveloping Patria Petrona. As an exhibit, it is emblematic of a time when gas stoves, women’s magazines, and television’s obsession with the housewife dominated Argentina’s cultural realm. These ideas are continued with tortazo, a show that focuses on the “good behavior” and “obligations” of a woman during the period. Acted out by Alfredo Arias and Alejandro Radano in the auditorium, it utilizes some of Doña Petrona’s recipes to also emphasize the culinary and thematic approaches to the “Patrona style” of baking.

For Arias, Patria Patrona is a “poetic displacement of one’s memory” that invites the viewer’s active participation in the display.

Support for Patria Petrona is provided by Groupe TSE, financed by the French Ministry of Culture, and Tenaris.

Patria Petrona by Alfredo Arias
Patria Petrona is a homage to memory, specifically to reconstructing the land that raised us, to the words, gestures, scents, and images that will forever remain in our minds and have become a part of who we are. La Patria (The motherland) made us; in that land you’ll find fantasy and enchantment. Petrona is one of those characters of the Patria fantasy.

The experiences suggested by Patria Petrona go beyond said figure to the world of the printed images in her cookbooks, as these pictures played a defining role in my childhood. But the focus is only on the images. I never tasted one of her dishes; instead the television provided me with interpretations of her recipes, all received in a remote neighborhood in the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

The house where I watched Doña Petrona’s shows was situated in Remedios de Escalada. There, in front of the American-style chalet my father had built, a cataclysm was produced: the government had decided to expropriate the neighboring houses to make a Pan-American highway that never happened.

In that desert, a shantytown slowly emerged, and while the wasteland extended quietly and flatly until it reached Talleres club, it became a large pasture for the ghosts where la Doña cooked.

When Perón addressed the nation, the townspeople would ask to watch our television. My parents would place the device near the window and behind it the Coronel would round up his loyal followers. It was Sunday mass, with Perón playing the priest. One day, Petrona appeared in that same television: for me, it was a type of refuge; instead of going to Disneyland I’d go to Petronaland, and every time my parents would fight (and they fought constantly), I tried to make a dish, usually one of Petrona’s desserts, to avoid my reality.

These desserts were always a disaster. Besides feeling agitated for not being able to bake, these attempts always reinforced my mother’s belief that I overly appreciated everything feminine, from Para Ti to Radiolandia ... I suppose now that Patrona was one of the icons that allowed me to spend five years in military school, an institution that parents had hoped would erase my fascination for the fantastic, and would instead create a good-postured, clear-headed boy prepared to face the future that awaited him. As for tortazo, it is not a historic or sociological piece, but rather a poetic glide through memory. A Twist again, if you will.

The Exhibition Patria Petrona presents six scenes composed of “cakes”, and dresses by Pablo Ramírez. In each of these settings, Alfredo Arias recreates celebrations, social gatherings, and events for which these “cakes” were designed. The three paintings by Juan Stoppani serve as the final touch for the “scenes” enacted. Along with tortazo — a show based on the recipes of Doña Petrona, starring Arias and Alejandro Radano — the director hopes to relive the past from the present, appealing to some of the images’ regenerative properties.

Alfredo Arias, Birthday, 2011, Glazed ceramic, 30 x 45 cm, Photographer: Gustavo Di Mario.

Alfredo Arias, Teatime (II), 2011, Cerámica esmaltada. 12 x 44 cm, Fotógrafo: Gustavo Di Mario.

Alfredo Arias, La Boca's Family, 2011, Glazed ceramic. 42 x 47 x 20 cm, Photographer: Gustavo Di Mario.

Alfredo Arias, Boda [Wedding], 2011, Glazed ceramic. 55 x 37 cm, Photographer: Gustavo Di Mario.

Juan Stoppani, 50th Anniversary Cake, 2011, Acrylic on canvas. 175 x 195 cm, Photographer: Daniel Kiblisky.

Juan Stoppani, Arrollado Caruso, 2011, Acrylic on canvas. 167 x 195 cm, Photographer: Daniel Kiblisky.

Alfredo Arias, Patria, 2011, Glazed ceramic, 12 x 48 cm, Photographer: Gustavo Di Mario.