They say that history is written by those who win...
... in this case history, since the the artsmen fairs appeared is written by us, the “Plaza Francia´s artsmen”, the hippies, the rebellious, the without fact, the revolutioners... and others adjectives which we honestly support.
It all started in Plaza Francia at the end of 1970. A small group of "crazy people" began throwing cloths on the floor, behind the wall of the "Viamonte" nursing home, located on Libertador and Pueyrredón Avenues.
During the first two years there was no control on this matter. Later on, the arquitect José María Peña, at that moment Director of the Buenos Aires’ Museum, was the designed person to regularize such event, exlusive for his way of showing and direct contact with During the first two years, the fair was put together without any control.
After that, the architect José María Peña, director of the Museum of the City of Buenos Aires at the time, was the person designated to regulate such an event, which was unique for its form of expression and direct contact with visitors.
People, in some way, admired the way of life chosen by the artisans, to the point that there were some who brought colorful clothes, camisoles and necklaces from their own homes, to change clothes before walking around the artisan fair. In 1974, the first ordinance was promulgated (N°28072), which established the spaces of Plaza Francia, Plaza San Martín and Plaza Belgrano. With the genocidal coup of 1976, the artisans of Plaza Francia were relocated to one side of the Del Pilar church, where they were not supposed to stay for very long. When the vicar raised his voice before the military authorities, the "rioters" ended up on Vicente López and Junín Street, next to the Recoleta Cemetery -so that they could “rest in peace”-, while Plaza San Martín and Plaza Belgrano were permanently and violently disbanded.
Some excluded companions ended up in Vicente López and Junín, others in a side hallway of the Flores church, others left the country and others were "disappeared." After two years, in 1978, the few artisans who remained were all transferred to Plaza Italia, the only craft fair that endured through the years of dictatorship. With the advent of democracy in 1984, an inspection to evaluate the work of the artisans according to guidelines established in advance that qualify them to perform this activity, was announced through the media to be held at the Recoleta Cultural Center. Around five thousand people were present through six days, divided by categories: ceramics, leather, wood, metal, fabric, plastic and miscellaneous. The ten “inspectors” (mostly artisans from Plaza Italia, as well as some plastic artists) carried out the arduous task of supervising all the presented work. These were displayed at "El Patio de los Naranjos", on cloths on the floor, a gesture that recalled the old ways.
The inspection was made by points: each inspector rated the crafts from one to ten, the total score was added up to obtain an overall average score for each piece. The best scores had the possibility of choosing which fair to enter. Once the pre-established vacancies for a fair were filled, another fair followed the same procedure. Plaza Francia, Belgrano and Lezama were reopened, and Parque Centenario, Plaza Houssay (Monday to Friday) and Vuelta de Rocha (Saturday, Sunday and holidays) were inaugurated.
A few years later, Vuelta de Rocha added Thursdays and Fridays. Parque Chacabuco and Plaza Güemes were also opened, but they did not prosper and the artisans were later relocated to other fairs.
So, we started walking again. In 1990, due to the abuses committed by municipal officials with a fierce intervention in Plaza Francia, a group of fellow artisans from different fairs came together and organized a resistance to the government of that time, managing in two years to write, agree and sign the only law made by artisans: the ordinance 4607, currently in force, which was declared of municipal interest, voted and approved unanimously by all parliamentary blocs of different political orientations -which is not a small feat-. In all these years we have been systematically and unjustly excluded from any cultural event that the different governments have organized, but we are totally convinced that 37 years have not passed in vain.
The road was and will always be intricate and we have stumbled many times, but this is a sign that we continue walking together, exchanging and supporting these utopias. the visitors. People, in some way, admired the election of life of those few mads, ones tried to dress like them with very coloured clothes and accesories.
In 1974 it was stablished the Order nº 28072, which fixed the spaces for Plaza Francia, Plaza San Martín and Plaza Belgrano.
With the military hit in 1976, the artsmen of Plaza Francia were moved to the side of Del Pilar Church where it was supposed it wouldn´t stay for a long time, when the blessed parson talked in a loud voice to the military authorities, the rebellious were pushed to Vicente Lopez and Junín Street, to the side of the Recoleta Cementary (“as to relax ereveryone in piece”), meanwhile Plaza San Martín and Plaza Belgrano were picked up definitevely in a very agresive way. Someones were placed at the side of Plaza Flores, someones were retired and others were “dissappeared”.
After two years (1978, and when the wall spread with blood and torture) again the remaining artsmen, is to say the ones who honestly supported, were moved to Plaza Italia, the only artsmen fair that ramained through the dictatorship years.
When Democracy came in 1984, it was announced a control (the evaluation of each work of the artsman according to existing rules which calify the artsman to work in this activity) in the Recoleta Cultural Center. About 5.000 persons were present at that moment in six stages divided in: ceramic, leather, wood, metal, cloth, various and plastic art.
Ten controllers, the moyority of them artsmen from Plaza Italia, and the rest plastic artists (some of them of real “plastic”), did the hard task to control all the products presented. These were exposed in “El Patio de Los Naranjos” on the floor, like in the old times. The calification was taken from 1 to 10, it was summed up, and then they obtained a final average. The best results had the possibilitiy to choose the Fair to go into, once completed the elected one they proceeded to continue with another Fair.
Also were reopen Plaza Francia, Belgrano and Lezama and inaugurated for first time Parque Centenario and Plaza Housey (From Monday to Friday); Vuelta de Rocha (Saturday, Sundays and Festivity Days), in a few years it is added Vuelta de Rocha (Wednesday and Friday´s).
Were open also Parque Chacabuco and Plaza Güemes but these ones had not success and the artsmen were placed between the different fairs.
So, in this way, we began to walk once again.
In 1990 municipal goverment officers made a cruel intervention to Plaza Francia, a group of artsmen from different fairs gathered and put resistence to the official goverment obtaining in two years redaction and agreement with signment of the unique law made by the artsmen, the orden Nº 46075 which nowadays is in force, being declared of municipal interest, voted by and approoved for all the parlamentary blocks from different parties which is not to say a few things.
During all these years we were excluded from all cultural events organized by the goverment, but we are very sure that 37 years were not in vain, in spite the road was and still is sinuous it means that we are continuing walking. It´s a signal that you and us interchanging and holding this utopian.