BUENOS AIRES – When she was little, Argentine photographer Florencia Alzugaray dreamed about the early explorers and spent hours reading about their exciting trips whose distances were measured in leagues.
Now, Alzugaray is living her dream of traveling the world in search of new adventures on a bicycle.
Passionate about images and writing under the pseudonym Floral Zu, Alzugaray has been capturing the landscapes of all her voyages for years and has even managed to compile a collection of best photographs in a book that features her other great hobby, cycling, a means of transportation that ultimately became her way of understanding the world.
“I started taking the bike to my trips because I realized that when I was on a bike, I never got bored,” Alzugaray said in an interview with EFE.
Alzugaray is the author of “Bicicletas en foco” (2018), a photographic journal of her adventures on three continents with her small bike as the main focus of each picture.
Finland, Alzugaray confessed, was the country she was most eager to see and the one of which she has the best memories.
“What I liked the most about Finland, it seems silly, but it was the name, Finland, the end of the Earth,” Alzugaray said.
Currently, Alzugaray, who has more than 30 years of experience in professional photography and graphic design, is a professor at the University of Buenos Aires.
The reflection of her bike in a puddle in Buenos Aires, the track left behind by the bike’s wheels on a Brazilian shore and a selfie during one of her stops at the gate of a European cathedral are just some of the many ways she uses her traveling companion as the main subject of every shot.
“It’s not like I’ve just been taking pictures of a bicycle in the middle of a landscape, I have 30 years of experience behind me,” Alzugaray said.
Relying on her skills and mixing her hobbies, Alzugaray decided to design her book without the assistance of a publisher, putting a little bit of herself into each of the 240 photographs that appear in the work.
It took her about six years, 26 different countries and many, many trips in which she played with her imagination until she managed to convey her essence on a bike, the object that gives her life a meaning and has become her way of escaping from the bustling streets of Buenos Aires, the city where she was born and still lives.
“The truth is that everything you have, if you have something, you have to work hard to keep it. Argentina, where one month is fine and the next year is not, and in one year you have 47 percent inflation and you see how the whole world complains about the increases ... It’s a strange country that only Argentines are used to,” Alzugaray said.
The photographer decided that she would spend her time and money on travel, not on a bigger house or a better car.
Alzugaray admitted being happy with her apartment on the 13th floor of a tall building, where she enjoys amazing views of “the city of fury” from the balcony.
“I had the feeling that everything I had learned in my life led me to do this,” Alzugaray said.
Some of her photographic works are pure fiction. For example, one image shows a cyclist disguised as Bruce Wayne – Batman – walking through the streets of New York without a cape or a mask.
If Steven Spielberg shot “Jaws” (1975) “in a pool,” the paths of the imagination are inscrutable, Alzugaray said.
Among her favorite cities, Madrid, Finisterre, Spain, and, by mere coincidence, Zaragoza, Spain, stand out most, but also Edinburgh, Dublin and London, the photographer said.
And no, Amsterdam is not the best city to ride a bike, she said, since it is “interesting” but “chaotic” at the same time.
The “platonic city for cyclists” is, according to her, Copenhagen, where you can find as many bikes as in Holland but “much more organized.”
Recently returned from Japan, Alzugaray is already planning the itinerary for her next destination, where she plans to “continue playing” like when she was little and played at the garden of her house, as if it were the legendary Mississippi from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” (Mark Twain, 1876).
“To this day, if there is something I’m grateful for is having what children possess, which is that, at times, I cannot distinguish the difference between reality and fiction very well, or (at least) I allow myself to think that. Sometimes, in life, that goes against you, but I believe that in art it favors you,” the photographer said.
Alzugaray said she was still surprised that her work had an impact at the local level after several media outlets took an interest in her images and she had followers on social media.
The photographer said volume 2 of “Bicicletas en foco” will be arriving soon.
“If you notice, these are all games, I have fun doing it, and I take it totally seriously,” Alzugaray said.