It has been a great pleasure to interview Lucio Boschi, the adventurous and passionate photographer who opened the MEC, a museum of contemporary photography founded in 2012 amidst the mountains, in the community of Huichaira, a few kilometres from Tilcara, in Northwest Argentina.
What has been your professional trajectory as a photographer before opening MEC?
I’m a traveller, and I spent many years of my life walking the world. I found in photography a helpful language to share everything I felt and saw around.
With the passing of time, some people and institutions of the academic and artistic environment got interested in my work. Today, there are 9 books published with works of mine, and my work is also part of university studies, private collections and museums.
Why did you choose Huichaira for the MEC? What made you fall in love with the place? What is your greatest learning from being part of this community?
Northwest Argentina has always been my favourite place. It is a land which has got to me deeply from the first time I visited it more than 30 years ago. Its unique combination of harshness and beauty has something of the primitive and the essential in it. This elegance of Nature has always been one of my favourite images.
For years I’ve photographed the ravines and their people, I have taken their portraits and local celebrations to museums around the world. There was a moment when I felt I should bring back something from the rest of the world right here: a museum deep in the mountains seemed like the exact dream. Of course I had to persuade the community about it and they were very generous and open with this project.
Opening the MEC seems like an adventure which sounds a bit crazy even today; what made it possible? What was most challenging?
I like to get close to that place which is difficult to verify, the happy territory of dreams. To leave that land and actually put the stones together with their real weight is something else: it is a privilege. The museum was in my mind for several years and when the moment came to actually plan it, we made our best to respect the community, its materials and rhythms, and we built it using native stones, adobe and local cane. We wanted to make its facade look like one more household, and inside we built simple white rooms with natural light and silence. We proposed our idea to the most representative photographers in Argentina and each one of them had a generous attitude and donated part of their work to build a collection of excellent quality, and we are very grateful to them. I think that the highest challenge is to keep this somehow crazy project growing and to continue making it exciting.
What is the main goal of MEC? What do you want to convey?
Our aim is to offer a meeting point, like when our original communities light a bonfire in the middle of nowhere, so that people can share and get together by the fire. We want to learn and to offer a place of reference for anyone who comes, may it be people from the local community, from the Puna, or from Norway or Japan. We want to be a wide open door in the mountains.
In Oriunda we love to invite our travellers to discover cultural findings that make us proud as Argentinian, the MEC is one of them. What kind of artists can we find here? Is there any work you want to highlight?
At the MEC you will find a permanent collection of thirty Argentinian photographers, curated by Rodrigo Alonso, plus travelling exhibits that change several times a year. There is a beautiful library as well, we also organize workshops, and there is an annual contest with many participants, plus a system of ad-hoc scholarships for almost each student´s needs. There are many talented photographers in the area looking for a professional path with much effort in a complex environment. They are outstanding and it is them I want to highlight.
What do you wish for the MEC in the near future?
To be a source of inspiration.
Thank you Lucio Boschi, deeply inspiring us! We are very thankful and proud of this unique space which shines in the middle of the beautiful landscape of the ravine, generously opening its doors to let you be enchanted with its cultural richness and wonderful art.