Riding Metro Santiago into the Future Past

Leonardo Portus, Estación Violeta Parra, model, 2013-2014. MAVI Santiago. November 2014.

Leonardo Portus, Estación Violeta Parra, model, 2013-2014. MAVI Santiago. November 2014.

Leonardo Portus’s current exhibition at the Museo de Artes Visuales (MAVI) has been receiving much-deserved praise and attentionEstación Utopía (Utopia Station) has a compelling blend of gorgeous visuals, nostalgia, and history. Naturally, I add myself to that list. Any exhibition that includes dollhouse-like models always wins my heart. Moreover, Portus has accomplished a tremendous feat: transforming Metro de Santiago into an object of admiration. As it is the metro is still struggling to be seen as a comfortable experience since rush hour has the attendants stuffing passengers into the cars like sardines. Perceiving the metro as something beautiful is indeed a utopian fantasy.  Continue reading

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Gossiping Neighbors at the MAVI

Paula Salas, El Barrio del Molino, MAVI Santiago. November 2014.

Paula Salas, El Barrio del Molino, MAVI Santiago. November 2014.

The Museo de Artes Visuales (MAVI) in Santiago is currently exhibiting “El Barrio del Molino,” a research + installation project by the Chilean artist Paula Salas. The barrio in question is Barrio Lastarria, a neighborhood that is hands down the best place in Santiago to spend a weekend. The installation is fairly small, occupying barely three walls of the first gallery space you encounter after entering the MAVI. For me the star of the entire show was the main wall, which featured a map of the neighborhood, colored with gossip. Continue reading

Footnote: Amereida at the Radisson

Tonight the contestants on Top Chef Chile travel to Concón, specifically the Radisson Acqua Hotel & Spa. For the novice School of Valparaíso scholar this is an inconsequential event. However, there are two important undercurrents of note. The first is pretty minor, though not for the School faculty themselves. They love food. In another life they would’ve been chefs, no joke. One look at their Instagram feeds or design projects on Flickr illustrates their preoccupation with gastronomy and how it relates to celebrations. I’m sure many of them will be watching. And if they are I hope that catch the pretty big connection between the Radisson and their School. According to Valentina Pérez’s excellent thesis, this is where the founders planned the first travesía in 1965. Back then, of course, this legendary group did not meet at the Radisson but at the Bucanero Restaurant, which is where the current hotel sits. According to Pérez, “A stone inscribed in homage to the site where the ideas of Amereida were gestated is there, recognizing the first travesía” (70n48). Unfortunately, I have never been to this hotel so I cannot confirm this memorial. However, since an alumnus of the School of Valparaíso—Harken Jensen—was the lead architect I’m confident this School of Valparaíso legend is more on the side of true things. If the cameramen of Top Chef Chile manage to include this stone in one of their shots, tomorrow’s review of this show will certainly be less salty.

To end on a high note, Cecilia Vicuña’s 2010 film Kon Kon presents another view of this resort town.

Footnote: The Adventures of Jean Mermoz

I’m going through a pretty mellow moment in my life: tucked away in a small town 120 miles south of Santiago I’ve got loads of time to just sit and write. Despite living in a cave, some of the outside world does trickle in and lately it’s been a name: Jean Mermoz.  Continue reading