I’ve arrived to the point in my dissertation where I address a frequent question: “so, these architects are like a Chilean Bauhaus?” It’s an indirect way of saying, “relate your group to something established, something from Europe, something I know!” I get it, the unknown is terrifying. But I couldn’t live with myself as a Latin Americanist art historian if I didn’t try to pry you away from that life preserver. There are few life preservers in my dissertation and most of them have been relegated to footnotes. Like this one about the Bauhaus.
In December 1987 the School of Valparaíso completed Monumento Athenea, an urban travesía in Santiago, by installing several sculptures by Claudio Girola. The ensemble consisted of delicate arcs of steel surrounding a lone sculpture made of reinforced concrete and inscribed with a poem by Godofredo Iommi. The works sat on the banks of the Mapocho River. As in the case of most travesía works, this group had a short life. Which is a shame considering how they may have fared better just across the river in the dedicated sculpture park. I visited the site a few years ago, hoping to see at least some evidence of this project but instead I dodged construction vehicles building the Costenera Center complex, which includes the mall du jour and the tallest building in South America. Little did I know the works endured much damage before meeting a watery end. Though it’s little consolation, the travesía was documented extensively as Flickr photos and these snapshots from the catalog demonstrate.