Susanita in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, 1914

Susanita in Mar del Plata, Argentina, 1914, photo by Sean Rocha

Having just posted a fascinating photograph I found in a flea market in Lima, Peru on an earlier trip to South America, I can’t resist posting this enigmatic image of Susanita in Mar Del Plata that I bought on a recent trip to Buenos Aires.

Dated 16 January 1914 — deep summer in Argentina, though the fashions of the time were less revealing — it shows a little girl on one of the most popular beach resorts in South America, though you wouldn’t know that from the largely empty sands behind her.  The structure in the background is the Playa Bristol pavilion, which has long since been rebuilt.  The studio name (Foto-Garro, Mar Del Plata) is embossed in the paper on the lower left and the handwritten inscription reads: “Receive much love from little Susan.”

What intrigued me about this photograph when I found it at an antiques shop in San Telmo, of course, was the too-grown-up Diane Arbus expression and daring posture of the little girl.  But now that I am back in New York I find that I am drawn, too, to the bathing pavilion and general atmosphere of that distant resort as it looked exactly one century ago.

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