For this first action, I was Chiara Schmitt’s partner. This assignment was a nice opportunity for getting to know each other, sharing some of our backgrounds and previous works, sharing some music, and sharing about our lives as a German and an Argentinian. The core topics of those conversations were Home Ground and Identity, and what those mean to each other. The actions and reflections I’ll post here are a product of those conversations.
I’m not currently living on home ground, even though I’m in a place where I feel comfortable and where I guess I could live for a long time. I’ve been living in Denmark for seven months now, but this is still a place where I’m not planning to stay. At this moment, I can only call home ground my ancestral location: Argentina.
Until not so long ago, my answer to what home ground was for me would have been fairly straightforward: both Junin, my home town during childhood, and Buenos Aires during adulthood. But now, after being away from home for some time, my perception of home ground has grown and feels like a wider concept. During my first years in Buenos Aires, my representation of home ground was Junin. As years went by and I started to settle in Buenos Aires, that big city became part of my concept of home ground as well -a feeling which was intensified by the time of arriving in Copenhagen-. Currently, through the distance and after some time, the concept of home ground feels more comprehensive, and it’s related to Argentina in general: somehow even those places in Argentina I have never visited have something of home ground for me now.
HOME GROUND [past - present]: JUNIN --> (JUNIN + BUENOS AIRES) --> ARGENTINA
Nevertheless, I think that home ground can eventually mean for me a new place outside Argentina in the future as well. I believe home ground is for me a place where I can settle, feel comfortable, do the things I want to do, and share my time with people I choose to share it with. In that sense, the same way as my perception of home ground changed and grew as I changed and I grew, this concept may continue to be modified as long as I keep doing so with myself. Home ground already means for me many different places at once, so there might as well be room for a new place fitting in that tag in the future.
HOME GROUND [past - future]: JUNIN --> (JUNIN + BUENOS AIRES) --> ARGENTINA --> (ARGENTINA + _INSERT PLACE HERE_)
WHAT IS PART OF MY IDENTITY?
The places I’ve lived in, the many things I’ve learned from the people that surround me, the music I’ve listened to since I was a kid, the thousand hours of playing and watching football, the things I’ve built as a hobby or as a job, the good and the bad experiences I’ve gone through, the good and the bad decisions I’ve made, and probably many other things I’ve lived but I’m not acknowledging now/yet.
THE ACTIONS DESCRIBING HOME GROUND
More than one action came to my mind while working on this assignment, and I wanted to explore some of them. These actions may be more or less complex, but they all relate at some point and have something in common: sharing with friends and family, definitely a big part of what home ground means to me.
ACTION 1.1: STARTING A FIRE FOR AN ARGENTINIAN ASADO
WHAT IS ASADO?
Asado [a. – sa. – ðo.] is a traditional meal in Argentina, probably the most representative one of our culture. It’s basically grilled meat but the main difference with a barbecue, for instance, are the grills and the meat cuts we use, and the use of coal or wood -or both- for generating the embers for slowly cooking the meat without using any fuel at all.
HOW DOES THIS ACTION REFLECT HOME GROUND FOR ME?
Starting the fire is the first of many things to do when cooking an asado. The whole cooking process, from starting the fire to serving, can take from 2,5 to 4 hours -or even more- depending on the meat cuts, the cooking method used, and the number of people eating. Although it may sound like a lot of time and work, one of the best things about an asado is that it’s usually made with the guests being around and participating. It’s a shared experience from the beginning to the end.
Making an asado is usually the perfect reason for friends and families getting together in Argentina during weekends or even weekdays. Whether it’s celebrating a birthday, watching a football match or just getting together to eat, whatever excuse we may find will be enough for making an asado. For me, the great thing about asado is not only the food itself but also that it always means sharing with others for so many hours.
Some weeks ago, my wife, two Argentinian friends, and I met to make an asado in a park in Copenhagen. There are three Argentinian style grills in that park so, naturally, being 4 Argentinians with an available propper grill in Copenhagen, the excuse for making an asado was already at hand. The photos below show a little about the experience of cooking, helping and sharing that usually occur every time during an asado:
ACTION 1.2: CRANKING UP THE VOLUME AND PLAYING MY GUITAR (LOUD)
Turning the volume up and playing guitar loud has always been a very liberating experience for me. It’s not that much about that old, classic rock n’ roll thing of rebellion and defiance channelized through decibels rather than a physical and expressive thing.
It’s a physical thing because higher volumes move higher amounts of air, which you can not only hear, but you can also feel as vibrations hit your body. It’s an expressive thing because high volume can also allow a bigger expression range: high volume enables you to be heard and felt, but it also allows you to turn down and play softer when you need it. Volume gives more room for expressing ideas, loudly and/or softly. Turning the volume down, on the other hand, reduces the possibilities, and with that, part of the expressive range reduces as well, which can be uninspiring.
In addition to those two feelings, I can also relate playing my guitar loud with the idea of home ground. Leaving Argentina, among other things, meant leaving behind my band, the studio where we rehearsed, and other people I used to play with. Playing guitar at considerable volumes and making music with other people was something I used to do many times a week back in Argentina. For the last months in Denmark, the scenario has been completely different for me, even becoming quite the opposite: now it’s just me in an apartment playing and recording music made by me alone, at the lowest volume possible, sometimes plugged to a pretty small amplifier but, mostly, playing unplugged or connected to a computer.
FOR ME, HOME GROUND FEELS SOMETHING LIKE THIS:
ALTHOUGH, I’M CURRENTLY DEALING WITH THIS:
The good thing is that I know the second GIF is part of a transitional phase, and home ground is always there, just a turn of a knob away…
ACTION 1.3: PREPARING A MATE
WHAT IS MATE?
Mate is a traditional and pretty unique South American infusion. The mate (the container itself) is usually a dried, cut and hollowed pumpkin, although other materials can be used. The infusion consists of small ground yerba mate leaves, which are spread inside the mate and then infused with hot water (70ºC). For drinking the infusion, a metal straw is used.
One of the special things about mate is that it’s a really long lasting infusion. With only one preparation -and a good technique-, it can be used many times, allowing to prepare around 1.5 liters of infusion maintaining a nice taste and temperature without needing to replace the Yerba. This makes mate an excellent infusion to share with other people. In South America, people drink mate everyday -probably many times every day-, and it’s absolutely common to find many people sharing one mate. Of course, this is not a safe practice nowadays in COVID-19 times, and that’s changed during the last months but, before Coronavirus, it was absolutely normal to share a mate with many people. Even with people you’ve just met…
For me, mate -as well as asado-, is strongly associated with sharing. I have drank countless amounts of mate with friends and family, and every time I have one here in Denmark, it works as a little reminder of home and the ones I’ve shared mates with. Every mate is a little piece of home ground, wherever I am.
ACTION 1.4: GREETIN’ & HUGGIN’
Greeting with a hug is another thing I’m almost not doing at all these days and, at the same time, something that strongly reminds me of home. Hugging when greeting someone is absolutely usual in Argentina, but less so in Denmark (or at least for what I’ve experienced or seen so far).
Of course, and to be fair, I must say that I don’t have as near the friends -and even less family- here than in Argentina, and with Coronavirus going on, greeting with a hug is not advisable nowadays.
So, for this action, I hugged an iPad which, although feeling strange, may still be a valid way of greeting someone through the distance as I would do at home ground under normal circumstances.