Un Océano Entre Nosotros: Valparaíso Chile
I recently returned from a few weeks down in Valparaiso, Chile. I was lucky enough to be invited down by an Arts and Theater organization called Teatro Container, which was putting on their 5th Festival showcasing visual and performance art all centered around shipping containers. Some of their previous festivals have been in other areas of South America and as far out as Rapa Nui (Easter Island). This one was scattered all over the port city of Valparaiso, where they are based. For those unfamiliar, Valparaiso is a beautiful city on the sea about an hours drive from Santiago, Chile. It was a major port for about 300 years before the Panama Canal was put it, where most ships going around Cape Horn would stop to stock up. In 1914 when the canal went in, Valparaiso resembled a cutting edge European city with a lot of the technological advancements of the era, including several "ascensor's" or funicular's as they are called in Europe. They say that sailors used to called it "little San Francisco" and it is easy to see the connection between these two distant Pacific ports. Colorful houses line the "cerros" or hills that make up the city. I was brought down to create an art installation involving shipping containers, that I tried to design to resemble my images. In addition I set up a gallery in one of the containers, and filled it with large prints of my recent body of work. Plaza Sotomayor is a large space downtown where the installation was located. It was a fitting spot, flanked by the buildings of the National Consulate of Arts and Culture as well as the Chilean Armada. The festival had a team of welders and talented craftsmen to transform the containers into all sorts. (part of the Origami production in the foreground) I spent part of the first week working to construct the supports for the prints the amazing hillside workshop of Myra, part of the festival's team, who helped me sew the prints to hold the wood supports. The containers were set in place and a little cement debris brought in for effect. Installation in place, open to the public Opening night got a little crazy. I got to spend the rest of my time wandering the city with my wife/baby and seeing the sights, its a beautiful place filled with graffiti, murals, and lots of wandering dogs. There were a ton of great plays and projects that were part of the festival, unfortunately I didn't do the best job documenting the others so please check out the festival's website (here) for more info if interested. They had several community based projects, such as the Cocina Publica which is a container they turned into a mobile kitchen that they can drop anywhere and start cooking up delicious meals with community members. Anyways, I hope I can get back there again someday soon, truly amazing place and people!
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