It was a chilly Sunday afternoon when I first made my way to the soccer field at the Reinaldo Salgado playground, but the sun was shining bright, its light bouncing off the photographs which now hang inside. the gate along the field. It was my first time there, but as I walked along the lawn I was able to see documented memories of the games played and portraits of the people who played them. For me, it was as if I was in dialogue with the space itself and the community that surrounds it.
On the Reinaldo Salgado Playground, you can see the art installation by Mateo Arciniegas Huertas “Domingo a las 4”, which shows what a typical day looks like for a fútbol (English football) player as part of the Inter Milan team, named after the Italian professional team.
The outdoor exhibit is made up of 16 portraits of teammates and players from the Liga Gorytos Sports league curated by a member of the community known as “El Profe”, a colloquial term for “the professor”. El Profe and the majority of the players are part of the region’s large Ecuadorian immigrant community.
For Huertas, a Bushwick-based Colombian photographer who has lived in the same apartment for six years, it was during the pandemic that he ventured to learn more about his community and became a frequent player at the Reinaldo playground. Salgado.
“The importance of this project is like one more step towards realizing this feeling of belonging which, I think for many people who come from Latin America, is to find this sense of community”, Huertas told the Bushwick Daily. “As Latinos we are very family oriented. We like to be around people. We are very warm. We do things with friends and family all the time.
One of the team’s organizers, Edwin Pullatasig, also known as “Memo” among his community, introduced Huertas to the league in 2020.
“We used to play on the pitch at Wilson and Knickerbocker and [Huertas] would be sitting there with the sports clothes on. He would be sitting there and we needed a player. So we saw him and we said to him, ‘Come and play,’ “Pullatasig told the Bushwick Daily.” And just like that, I said to him, ‘Come on, there is another field where we play. by Madison. “
“We just started to bond,” Huertas added. “He’s from Ecuador and I’m from Colombia, so there’s this mutual thing that we share, all of Latin America shares it, I think, but these neighboring countries have a little more close ties.”
“In fact, I haven’t played football regularly before that for years, many years,” Huertas continued. “When I was growing up in Colombia, I was part of a club there and I went every weekend to play in a league. It’s kind of the same as here you know, training maybe one or two days a week. Sunday was game day for my team and my league when I was growing up.
The name of the facility, Domingo a las 4 (Sundays at 4 a.m.), is a nod to the weekly routine of people who come to play fútbol at the Reinaldo Salgado.
“Come and play,” Pullatasig said, “because it’s awesome. By the time you go out to play, you forget everything else, all the worries you think about, and you feel good.
The exhibition was produced in partnership with ACOMPI, a New York-based curatorial project that strives to highlight under-represented voices and narratives grounded in interdisciplinary practices. The name refers to the Spanish word “acompañado”, which means “in company”.
Founders Constanza Valenzuela and Jack Radley shared with Bushwick Daily that Domingo a las 4 was developed with accessibility in mind.
“These photos are completely different in a park where the backdrop is the neighborhood and not in a white space in a small room,” Valenzuela said. “It makes for a completely different experience, viewing these images above the brownstone architecture of Bed-Stuy and the community. It forces people to engage a bit more, and that’s why we also wanted Domingo a las 4 to be inside the pitch so that it invites people to come in and not just pass.
According to Huertas, the people who come to watch games are often families. Many vendors during the league are in the field from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. selling Ecuadorian food. They usually offer rice, chicken, empanadas, soups, and sometimes canelazo, an alcoholic drink made from cinnamon and sugar cane, when it’s cold.
The games are a time of community engagement, said Huertas, who said he finally feels out of place in New York after ten years in the United States.
“I think as young people we go from the train home, maybe to the local bar, maybe for take out,” Huertas said. “You don’t really engage with your surroundings and you don’t know your neighbors. Maybe you see your neighbor, but do you know his name, do you know where he is from? “
Huertas and his mother came to the United States to seek asylum due to the Colombian political climate, and he was unable to return to his home country seven years later due to all the procedure associated with the application. asylum.
“I think it really touched me and made me think about the diaspora and being far from home,” Huertas said.
“My work revolves around the question of being, first of all, Colombian, and of being Colombian far from Colombia”, he continued. “I wanted to kind of, in my work, try to give a voice to help people who are maybe not as privileged as us, and, I think with my work, I want to show a side of Colombia. which is not a tragedy and death like what we are used to seeing.
You can see more photographs of Huertas on his website, where he has different series that reflect his personal life, including Olvido Pa ‘Recordar, which was shortlisted by the Helsinki Photo Festival. The series started out more as a photojournalistic project on Colombia, but Huertas then noticed a change in the photographs he was taking.
“I realized through the work that what I really wanted to do, and what these photos show, is a really personal story about me and my journey,” said Huertas, who also shared that he always had struggled with the idea of assimilating to the culture of the United States. “It is I who enter into my cultural identity, I try to find this feeling of belonging which is not there: how times have changed, the family is dead, the friends have aged, the people with whom I ‘ve hung out then with whom I no longer hang out. I met new people, I relive memories of my home and then find new ones. There is always an emotional and geographical distance that I have with Colombia. Maybe it’s like my fear of realizing that this is something that is very precious to me, but it’s gone. It’s not the same thing.”
Huertas finds that more and more people of different ethnicities come to play, as the playground begins to gain a reputation for its competitive games. The games, as well as the art exhibition, are open to the public. Anyone can come and enjoy it. To those who are interested in playing, Huertas says not to be afraid to ask.
Stop by the Reinaldo Salgado Playground to see the Domingo a las 4 installation while it’s in place (the duration is still undecided) and to watch a game of fútbol.
Three photos from the series will be available for purchase on the ACOMPI website. Ten percent of the proceeds will go to Huertas, who plans to invite his team members to dinner. You can also comment on what you think of the Domingo a las 4 exhibition on ACOMPI’s Instagram account or send them an email directly.
“We want the comments and things to be in dialogue,” Valenzuela said.
Quotes from Edwin “Memo” Pullatasig have been translated by the author.
Featured Image: Allie Ilaina Herrera
For more information, sign up for the Bushwick Daily newsletter.
Join the fight to save local journalism by becoming a paid subscriber.
Join the fight to save local journalism by becoming a paid subscriber. We’ll throw in a tote bag and a yellow card.