“People are strange when you’re a stranger. Faces look ugly when you’re…” Ok. You may keep the tune, but change the adjective: here in Buenos Aires people, first of all, are interesting. A single word can change an attitude? Humans of Buenos Aires believe that yes. Jimena Mizrahi set up the project to give a space where everyone could get to see a bit more of “specialness”, a bit less of a “stranger”. In each of us.
“Buenos Aires is where I was born and grew up. I couldn’t imagine doing “Humans of” in another city. Humans of Buenos Aires is my way of showing that interesting people are just around the corner”, says Jimena Mizrahi, founder of the project.
Bastart: Each “Humans of” initiative starts out of inspiration by HONY’s example plus the personal motivations. What were yours?
Jimena Mizrahi: I love street photography and meeting new people. I was working in a photographic studio, spending many hours indoors. Something of the “real life” was missing. I really liked HONY and felt like doing the same in my city – forcing myself out from my comfort zone and approaching humans on the street – seemed like the best option.
B: Who are the ones to attract you most?
J: Potentially any person on the street could be a Human of Buenos Aires. But in the decisive moment of approaching a stranger it’s just the instinct that drags me there. Something hard to define. I see someone, feel intrigued and want to know more. This is why I stop him or her.
B: Tell us more about your goals and future plans.
J: The project’s objective is to offer people a space to recognize each other’s “specialness”. In a moment where individuality seems like the only way, I seek to celebrate the others. In the long term, I hope to inspire more people to look at one another and smile, even though they’re complete strangers. There is so much we can all learn from each other!
B: Is it hard to talk people into making a photo + story? Which of the two is more important to you?
J: Each person reacts differently when approached by a stranger who asks for his or her portrait and makes personal questions. While some can stay for more than an hour revealing to me their most intimate thoughts and experiences, others don’t even want to be photographed. I respect that too.
I think that a balance between the story and the photo is important.
B: “Humans”, not “People”. What’s your opinion on this?
J: “People” for me sounds like masses, ok if applied to a group of indistinguishable persons. “Humans” is related more to the humanity inside each person. For me the word “humans”, although in a plural form, denotes the uniqueness that is found in everyone of us. Each person on the street carries a whole universe within.
B: Humans of Buenos Aires in five words…?
J: A fresh and personal instant of Buenos Aires.
B: Is “Humans of” phenomenon closer to Wikipedia or Google Maps?
J: To neither. For me, “Humans of” is a free and spontaneous expression of individuals in most diverse corners of the world. It doesn’t aim to define or show people and places as fixed truths. It’s a space where each person’s differences are respected and valued.
He worked as a pilot all his life and feels grateful because he was paid for doing something he loved. We were finishing the street mural (you can see behind) when he approached us. He seemed very interested on the street art and told us we were very fortunate because we were doing what we love. His phrase: “Poor is he, who at the end of the month, only receives his payment.”
Amancay, the name has its origin from the Mapuche tribe. She helped her dad sell purses on the street from their car, with so much sweetness! She was wearing a hair clip her mom did for her. I asked her dad if I could take a picture of her. He answered: “Ask to her!” Amazing the way he respected her.
He’s a tango dancer (dancing since he was in his mother’s womb). For him tango’s a very strong feeling, which can make or dissolve couples completely. He loves observing passers-by and meditating on life. When watching people, he always asks himself: “Why are they hurrying so much? Where do they want to get?”
He is part of a motorbike crew. They get together to share some barbecues on weekends. Whenever possible, they organize a road-trip to enjoy the freedom of riding for several days on a row.For more information about Humans of Buenos Aires please visit the official Facebook page. For more information about the HO phenomenon read Ode to the Humans.
Words by Jurgita Po.Alessi