An investigation of the Mapocho River through visual art and temporality (una investigación del río Mapocho a través del arte visual y temporalidad).
Museo Nacional Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, Santiago de Chile
November 24 2016 to March 03 2017
OPT is an exhibition based on an investigation of the Mapocho River, Santiago, Chile and its place in the collective imaginary of the Santiaguinos (citizens of the capital).
Through actual and hypothetical temporary interventions and interpretations of plans and pre-photographic visual representations of the river, McInneny and Maturana create an installation of ten ideas about the Mapocho River. The Mapocho River is an urban torrent that 'reveals to us a geographical space: the relation between the Cordillera (Andes mountain range) and the sea, the sea and the Cordillera' (Perez de Acre 2000).
Chile, the political territory, is 4000km long and only 400km at its widest point. Its frontiers are defined by the Andes in the east and the Pacific Ocean in the west. From the north to the south of the country, the rivers connect these two frontiers flowing from east to west.
In the attempt to transform Santiago into a European city at the turn of the 20th century, the canalisation of the Mapocho River solved the flooding problems but caused great social disruption. Until the late 19th century it held a place in the public imaginary as one of Santiago's four icons and was represented in landscape painting as such (Felsenhardt, 2017). However, the episodic torrent that was previously part of daily life was transformed and managed into a marginal place and a public space associated with rubbish and disease.
The canalised causeway became the site of homelessness, drug addiction and suicide. During the military dictatorship of Pinochet (1973 to 1989) this public space was both the site of creative protest (see the work of UNAC Cultural Union) and, in the words of writer Roberto Ampuero, a site where "the dead that floated in the Mapocho with the marks of torture and a bullet in back of the neck" reminded all of the regime's brutal response to opposition. McInneny and Muturana ask, "What now does the Mapocho River mean in the everyday and urban reality of Santiago? A barrier, a wound, a dump, a place of protest, a latent public space at the nexus of the natural and the urban?"
The rivers edges, bridges and the torrent define the contemporary river in the urban context but, through the manipulations of its path, this public space represents rather the absence of nature's fluvial state and not its presence in the city. McInneny and Maturana utilize the three defining elements of the canalized river to intervene in this public space through visual art and temporality – the subjective experience of now.
- Dr Anthony McInneny - RMIT CAST member and Conjoint Fellow University of Newcastle School of Architecture and the Built Environment
- Dr Beatriz Maturana Cossio University of Chile, Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism and Adjunct Professor RMIT University, GUSS