The opening of the South Project at Centro Cultural Estación Mapocho in Santiago de Chile. Arturo Navarro, the director of Mapocho, welcomed visitors along with the Craft Victoria director Kevin Murray and Minister of Culture Paulina Urrutia. They ended by reciting together Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Mapocho. The speeches were preceded by a rogativa, the tradition welcome from the Mapuche people. Afterwards, guests visited the opening of the Make the Common Precious exhibition and the installation by Elida Tesler.
Make the Common Precious
Make the Common Precious opened in Santiago tonight with great fanfare. The Chilean Minister of Culture Paulina Urrutia officiated at the opening, despite having just flown in from Spain that morning. She was given a personal tour of the exhibition and expressed great joy at the marvellous transformations that the makers had enabled. The opening included speakers reciting from a Pablo Neruda Ode the Estacion Mapocho, the venue of the exhibition. It seemed the perfect time and place. Pictured is the exhibitino designer Felipe Berguño, his mother-in-law the weaver Patricia Antunez, and Filipe’s partner the jeweller Guillermina Antunez who was South Project’s first artist in residence in 2004.
Valparaiso seems the perfect embodiment of Make the Common Precious. The port city is hardly well endowed financially, and suffers from particularly severe vertical challenges, but the people manage to give their city the feeling of a work of art in itself. The houses are painted bright primary colours. The stencil are is everywhere and most engaging. There is singing on the street and every second person seems to be carrying a guitar — I even saw a policeman with a regulation guitar over his shoulder.
There are two artists in Valparaiso who have lived in Australia. Diogenes Farro is a ceramicist who fled the Pinochet regime and lived in Sydney for 25 years. He returned home a few years ago and has just started the first ceramics course in the school of design at University of Valparaiso. He is with Patricia Gunther, who is Director of the school of design and has implemented some very interesting teaching methods for textile students working collaboratively with the traditional weavers of Colliguay, a town in the hills just north of Valparaiso. The second ex-Australian artist is Elena Gallegos, of bountiful energy whose textile map of the world will be on display for the event on October 7.
One of Patricia’s students Pitti Pelacios has opened a store Design for Valparaiso in one of the many charming nooks of the city. He has developed a distinctive weaving style that is in great demand. Her weaving accentuates the unspun qualities of wool as well as the use of intensive colours, including black. Her store also stocks many other interesting Chilean clothes and jewellery designers.
A current student is Maria los Angelos Colli, who is showing some of the work that she has been doing with the women of Colliquay. Textile artists in Chile seem to have an amazingly rich source of traditions to work with.P Perhaps there’s something here for a future Scarf Festival!
The use of recycled materials enables some artists to expand the scale of their work so that it eventually floods the entire gallery. This image is from Currents 98: Tara Donovan (Saint Louis Art Museum), and features more than 600,000 plastic cups. According to the artist:
A transformative moment occurs for me when the material ceases to reference itself and begins to take on a formal structure that relates to the natural or built environment
Donovan’s work raises a difficult issue with the idea of making the common precious. Most of the artists in Craft Unbound resort to found materials as a form of resistance to consumerism. In Donovan’s case, however, the wasteful production is accelerated by artistic excess. This work seems to have nothing else to say other than is sheer spectacle.
Alison Leach and Kate Rhodes taking great care of the preciously common objects that will be flying to Santiago for the Make the Common Precious exhibition at Centro Cultural Estación Mapocho. Let’s hope it navigates the customs and quarantine safely, then faces the biggest test as it passes through the Latin American cultural tests. ¡Buena suerta!