PATRICIO LARRAMBEBERE   Works Exhibitions Texts Cv Contact ABTE
Statement (PL August 2010)

text of Valeria González for the book IN SEARCH THE LOST SENSE papers editores (2010)

Daniel Quiles on The Chosen instrument II in Beginning with a Bang! Americas Society New York (2007)

a letter to Emma Dexter about COGHLAN show at Juana de Arco (2006) by Patricio Larrrambebere.

The ABTE temporary headquarters MAMBA 2002/03 (PL 2002)

The very substance of memory. by Beatriz Vignoli. Buenos Aires Herald, January 14th, 1994.

Rétournement: ABTE’s Railway Interventions Daniel R. Quiles

ABTE: Fifteen Years on the Rails Daniel R. Quiles

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ABTE: Fifteen Years on the Rails

Daniel R. Quiles


Patricio Larrambebere’s Once, (the painting is from 2013, but the title is just Once) commemorates the worst rail accident in Argentina in thirty years. On February 23, 2012, 51 people were killed and 702 injured when a Sarmiento line commuter train failed to brake as it entered Once train station in Buenos Aires, slamming into the restraint barrier at 26 kilometers an hour and obliterating the locomotive and first several coach cars. This disaster was only one in a recent series of such events that includes the September 13, 2011 collision of two commuter trains and a city bus and a crash between two other Sarimento line trains on June 13, 2013 at the Castelar station in Greater Buenos Aires.

            Once’s representation of a pixelated, low-resolution digital image of the crash’s aftermath—a depopulated view of the shattered apparatus of transportation—recalls another of Larrambebere’s works: The Lockerbie painting, 2004. Included in his 2005 The Chosen Instrument exhibition, the earlier painting meditates on the historicization of the December 21, 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 through shifts in medium: from the original newspaper and television coverage to archival photography and video preserved (and perhaps manipulated) online back to the painter’s time-consuming, artisanal craft. Nearly ten years after The Lockerbie painting, high-quality images of historical events on the Internet are significantly more accessible, and in Once, the traumatic event in question is only a year old. Its exaggerated pixels, rather than the event, are the conspicuous anachronism.

            Larrambebere’s artistic practice is intertwined with the activities of Agrupación Boletos Tipo Edmondson (Edmondson Ticket Society), or ABTE, the collective that he co-founded with Javier Martínez in 1998.[1] ABTE was originally united a network of collectors and aficionados of Edmondson rail tickets, holdovers from the British presence in Argentina at the end of the nineteenth century that fell out of use in 1995.[2] With Larrambebere’s solo exhibition at Museo Nacional Ferroviario in 1998 and ABTE’s organization of the Richard Campbell Collection in an antiquated EMU carriage in 2001, dozens of original tickets, as well as the machinery used to print them—hand-cranked machines rescued from demolition—were displayed as installation art. During this time, the machines were fixed and refigured to produce new tickets with the artists’ own designs—a transposition of the outmoded into the present that paralleled the tickets’ migration from non-art to art. Given that ABTE emerged during President Carlos Menem’s privatization of the nationalized rail system in the 1990s, this insistence on the forgotten material patrimony of the railways amounted to a sort of educational protest.[3] This fall, the exhibition 57x30,5mm.: Quince Años de Cultura Ferroviaria ABTE (57x30.5 mm.:Fifteen Years of ABTE Railroad Culture), curated by Javier Villa at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, offers an overdue first retrospective for this overlooked group, whose projects rarely inhabit conventional art channels.[4]

Larrambebere has remained the most consistent member as new artists have gradually joined: Ezequiel Semo in 2003 and Javier Barrio, Martín Guerrero, Aldo Petrella, Gachi Rosati, and Alan Semo in 2012. In the 2000s, ABTE’s activities expanded to include interventions in train stations such as Human Ambulant Ticketing Machines, 2001, in which the artists distributed tickets in costume to combat “unemployment and fare dodging” on June 22, which was designated “Booking Clerk’s Day” (the anniversary of Edmondson’s death). Larrambebere’s chosen medium was directly integrated into the group’s actions, although in a different, functional guise: the group began systematically repainting the signs and walls of neglected stations. In the series Pictorial Cuts, for example, the artists repainted only sections of signs or station walls, drawing attention to the maintenance that the state would have undertaken in the past. This continues in the present in increasingly remote, wholly abandoned stations in the provinces, one of which, Vagues, has been converted into the Center for Railway Contemplation about complete with works donated by the artists.

Documentation of the interventions has shifted as ABTE has acquired more members. The earliest of the Pictorial Cuts in 2002 were photographed in “before” and “after” close-ups to evidence of alterations to existing infrastructure, with people left outside the frame. More recently, however, “after” images feature members of ABTE either posing before the newly completed signs or repainted stations. This hints at an elasticity of ABTE’s agrupación: no longer merely “a society” connected by mail and communiqués, but a model for living together—for “society” more generally.[5] This dimension is grounded in ABTE’s revaluation of “work” as uncompensated (no coincidence that many of its events are on Sundays), ameliorative, and collective.

ABTE’s politics reflect those of Larrambebere: opposition to the loss of livelihoods, national pride, and now even lives that are direct consequences of privatization. Yet ABTE’s collectivity stands in counterpoint to the artist’s solo practice, rather than being a mere offshoot or, worse, a “school.” The distinction is found in the “poetics” of each: their respective dalliances with absurdity, uselessness, or poignancy. As a painter, Larrambebere extends a legacy recognizable in Gerhard Richter, among others, of alienation before what Walter Benjamin called the “wreckage” of history (in this case, the collateral damage of the neoliberal era). As a member of a “society,” on the other hand, he does something with this wreckage, against instrumentality, with friends.



ABTE, or Agrupación Boletos Tipo Edmondson, was founded by Patricio Larrambebere and Javier Martínez Jacques in 1998. Ezequiel Semo joined as a member in 2003. The artists Gachi Rosati, Martín Guerrero, Javier Barrio, Alan Semo, and Aldo Petrella additionally joined in 2012.


Patricio Larrambebere studied at the Prilidiano Pueyrredón art school from 1986 to 1990. He participated in the projects of several artist collectives in Buenos Aires in subsequent years, among them Abemugna (1988), Basement (1992/95), and Orbital Collection (2000). He was a fellow from 1999 to 2000 at the Rijksakademie Amsterdam. He was a participant in the Intercampos 1 discussion group in 2005, and exhibited his work at the Bienal de Pontevedra, Spain, in 2006, the Americas Society in New York in 2007, the Bienal de Mercosur in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2009, and at the 2011 Pinta Art Fair in New York with Progetti Gallery. For the past ten years, he has been a teacher at the Instituto Universitario Nacional de Arte.






[1] See Andrea Giunta, Poscrisis: Arte argentino después del 2001 (Buenos Aires: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 2009), pp. 169-171.

[2] See Valeria González, En busca del sentido perdido: 10 proyectos de arte argentino. 1998-2008, exh. cat. (Buenos Aires: Papers Editores, 2010), pp. 20-33.

[3] Menem’s neoliberal policies led to the formation of Trenes Buenos Aires, or TBA, whose logo is reproduced faithfully on the side of the crushed train car in Once.

[4] For example, neither Larrambebere nor ABTE appeared in Algunos Artistas / 90 – HOY at Fundación Proa between April 27 and July 28, which combined three prominent Buenos Aires collections into a large overview of Argentine contemporary art.

[5] ABTE’s ambiguous presence between contemporary art production and social activism fits into Nato Thompson’s rather broad definition of “socially engaged art”: “poetic… yet functional and political… socially engaged art is not an art movement. Rather, these social practices indicate a new social order…” See Nato Thompson, ed., Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991 to 2011, exh. cat. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011), pp. 18-19.

2011 - (ESPAÑOL) 2A