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Marcos Zimmermann: Diversity enriches, monochrome doesn’t

An example of this is in the Patagonian province of Chabut, where the Mapuche and Tehuelche continue to exchange culture with the Welsh. These British descendants “feel Argentinean and continue to respect the Welsh traditions.”  The Prisma’s Memoirs. September 2015


Marcos Zimmermann. Photo from
Marcos Zimmermann. Photo from

Juanjo Andres Cuervo


“Since their arrival, the Welsh have enjoyed a good relationship with natives from the region,” asserts Argentinean Marcos Zimmermann, who has been photographing the region’s British settlers.

Indeed, the exhibition he held in London was about the Welsh living in Patagonia, descendants of those who arrived in Argentina 150 years ago. A specialist in the art of analogue photography, he has published 14 photo-books.

Photo by Marcos Zimmermann
Photo by Marcos Zimmermann

In 10 of them he uses black and white because “it is more expressive and turns a photo into a work of art more readily than with colour.”

According to him “the important thing is that the photo means something, it is a very special language that summarises what is going on in a single instant.”

He has taken photos in many countries and has never been given the brush off, believing that it “depends on how you come across and what you are setting out to do.” His work focuses mainly on Argentina, searching for the identity of his country, – around what is interesting to show “a realistic and artistic look.”

Marcos Zimmermann spoke with The Prisma about his career as a photographer and the cooperation between the Patagonian Welsh and other Argentineans who live in the Chubut province.

Are the Patagonian Welsh integrated with the other Argentineans who live in the region?

Absolutely and from the beginning, in a way perhaps very few communities have in Argentina. The Welsh community have a very attractive nature, they are united within their own community but at the same time very open to others, this combination is not common anywhere else in the world and serves as a very good example.

Photo by Marcos Zimmermann
Photo by Marcos Zimmermann

They have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the indigenous peoples and integrated culturally. Today, the Patagonian Welsh have inherited this trait, there are Welsh schools where they speak Welsh and Spanish, and the community opens their doors to indigenous descendants including the Mapuche and Tehuelche.

After 150 years of Welsh being spoken in Patagonia, what do you think of this?

Argentina has always been a very open country and from having spoken with the Patagonian Welsh they feel Argentinean and still respect their Welsh traditions, maintaining their customs, and this contributes to their richness.

Marcos Zimmermann and the Ambassador of Argentina, Alicia Castro
Marcos Zimmermann and the Ambassador of Argentina, Alicia Castro

Monochrome in things does not help in life. Diversity is what we need for rich culture, the languages are are constantly evolving, the Spanish spoken in Buenos Aires now is different from that spoken in colonial times as well it is from the Spanish spoken when I was a child, everything is changing.

I believe ideas of races have been overcome throughout the years, and the world has changed a lot in this respect.

Argentina is a very diverse country and has an important native population with very deep rooted cultures.

This diversity is an interesting. We must not lose it in thie world because if were were all the same it would be very boring.

Regarding anti-immigration policies employed by the British conservative government, particularly against non-Europeans, what do you think of the ceremony celebrating the integration between Argentina and Wales?

I took this as a photographer, I am not a political photographer. There is an undercurrent of Argentina in this exhibition, but I do not normally do commissioned work. I took these photos because I thought it would be interesting to show the English in the UK that there are examples of integration in Argentina between people from different countries, between Anglo-Saxon and Celts.

Foto de Marcos Zimmermann
Photo by Marcos Zimmermann

I think it is positive to talk about these things, only because dialogue can help the well being of a nation.

The current Argentinean government is achieving a lot through dialogue with the countries it has a relationship with.

After the dark era of dictatorship we have embarked upon a new age in which there is no possibility except dialogue to resolve any type of problem.

Do you think if Argentineans has gone to Wales 150 years ago to establish a colony, would they have been accepted by the British?

Foto de Marcos Zimmermann
Photo by Marcos Zimmermann

Certainly, we would have been welcomed.

The Welsh community in Argentina is a very open one, they love singing in choirs, without losing connections with their origins.

This is why I am so happy to have put all my energies into this exhibition and to have brought the Argentinean flag to the British parliament in an atmosphere of peace.

I have never felt rejected in any foreign country that I have visited, it all depends on how you come across and what it is you are trying to achieve.

Today people from different countries are coming to the UK in search of opportunities. Is there a similarity with what happened 150 years ago when the Welsh left for Argentina?

Possibly. The quest for improvement is part of humanity.

Photo by Marcos Zimmermann
Photo by Marcos Zimmermann

We live in a very different world from 15 years ago, because of our connections.

The problem now however is that the enormous interaction and communication that social networks bring is at the same time causing isolation.

It seems the world has unified. Everything is the same.

Argentina, for example, has quirks in places that I find interesting to rescue in very realistic way.

Some of the photos in my books are particularly symbolic.

There is a photo of a gaucho in a hat and full suit.

He lives in Punta del Agua, one of the most remote villages in Argentina, with just five houses it is surrounded by mountain and forest where a plant with enormous thorns called vinal grows.

To climb the mountain on horseback, he must bow his head and to stop his hat falling off he folds the brim over, a practice specific to this locality. As for his clothes they are made of thick leather to protect him from the thorns.

For me the photo is interesting because it tells you something about his environment .

You have won Argentina’s Golden Pyramid Award, Best Art Book Prize and Leonardo Prize among others.

I do not think too much about awards. I am a photographer by trade, I can adapt to any photographic challenge quickly because of my experience.

I have worked in advertising, cinema, ballet, open air, opera…A little of everything, I arrived at a time when naturally dedicated myself more to my photography and sharing what I see of the world.

I did not expect too much, and I don’t hope for much more, I am happy with what I have done.

Foto de Marcos Zimmermann
Photo by Marcos Zimmermann

What will your next project be?

The closest thing is a book, but it is not photography. It is a literary work about 14 photographers who lived and worked in Argentina. There is a specific photo of each author, it is a work of fiction based in history.

I am also holding a large exhibition showcasing photos from the north of Argentina where people were tortured during the dictatorship.

I am the curator for an exhibition of a great Argentinean photographer and next year I hope to start another book on this country.
 (Translated by Nigel Conibear – DipTrans IoLET ACIL – Email:

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