Art and culture in a shantytown in Argentina

February 2007 -

Odisea20, established in 2005, is a cultural project in the largest shantytown of Buenos Aires, Villa20/Lugano. The project is intended to give the inhabitants an artistic platform. Odisea20 consists of various components. An art gallery, a film theatre, a publishing house and a music label are accompanied by a social club and a production company for film and television. All are born from the creativity of the inhabitants themselves.

Founder of Odisea20 is Martîn Roisi, musician, film maker and television maker. When viewing a film he came into contact with Villa20, and was impressed by the people who live there, their creativity and their way of life. Villa20 consists of Argentineans, but many of the inhabitants also come from Bolivia or Paraguay. On the artistic level, this mixture has resulted in what the inhabitants themselves call marginal folklore. While discussing with Roisi ways to utilise their talents, the idea of renting the shantytown out as a film set, for example, gradually evolved into the idea of actually producing for film and television. Numerous scenes have since been filmed, including for French, Spanish, German and Dutch television. The idea then grew to include art, music and social activities.

Because authentic products are being made, a new road has opened: integration into society. Not having that is the greatest problem plaguing Argentina's shantytowns. "When you think of shantytowns you normally think of drugs, abductions and misery," says Roisi, who does not refute this reality but who also claims that much positive creativity can be found. "And that creativity is what we want to show. The inhabitants of Villa20 have much to offer Argentina and the rest of the world."

They receive no subsidy from Argentina's government. They are dependent on private donations and income generated by Odisea20's activities. They hope that the future will bring a permanent sponsor for the numerous plans they hope to finance and realise. One of those plans is establishing a network of similar projects in every shantytown in Buenos Aires, Argentina and the rest of the world.