Argentina is well known for its sensual Tango dancers, its famous soccer players and for its tasty meats. But since the 90’s Argentina also excels in recovering companies. More than 10 000 persons in Argentina work without bosses between legality and illegality. A phenomenon spread in the world after the 2008 financial crisis.
I had to do that photo documentary in 2009 for Gamma agency within 2 weeks. It took me a while to think about the best way to represent the companies without bosses in Argentina. I chose to make staged portraits of workers with the arms crossed to both show their pride and resistance. I didn’t want to make a traditional photo documentary showing workers in a factory. When you enter a company without bosses you won’t see the difference between a recovered company and a normal company. You have both blue collars and white collars. Obviously, there are many differences because most of these companies work with a cooperative system. The decisions are made between all workers. So, that’s why I chose that way to stand for recovered companies. I went to five companies. The most famous is the BAUEN Hotel in Buenos Aires’s center. During Argentina economic crisis the hotel went bankrupt. In 2003 the workers decided to recover the hotel because, according to them, it was just an excuse of the owner to relocate the hotel abroad in Brazil.
I remember that the first day I went to the BAUEN hotel a bald receptionist didn’t want me to make photos of him: « sure that you work for the FBI! » he told me.
One week later, I went to Viniplast a recovered company in Mataderos neighborhood that makes plastic. When the workers started with the company without their boss they didn’t even have resin! (Resin is a basic component to make plastic). « So, to buy resin we had to collect our money in a can » says Hugo Fusek the sales responsible. During the interview Hugo told me how a recovered company could work so well « It takes time. We can’t be compared with traditional companies. We are like an elephant. We are slow but when we make a step we don’t go back. And in that company we don’t have anymore credit card used by the boss’s mistress. Is that clear?