Exhibiting Architecture or Promoting Tourism?

"Chile: Territory For Architcture" Exhibition

"Chile: Territory For Architecture" Exhibition at Pure Chile Gallery

“Chile: Territory for Architecture” is a temporary exhibition showed during the month of September in the Pure Chile Gallery in SOHO to celebrate Chilean Architecture. This small exhibition was curetted by Alberto Sato and presented a selection of works by 12 Chilean architects developed through all the Chilean territory from the northern desert to the South Pole. As Sato himself wrote, these architectural works represent “a new alliance between what is native and what is exotic; between the planetary dimension and the domestic dimension; between eternalness and ephemeralness; between fashion and the sense of cultural transcendence”.

The exhibition displayed important Chilean works such as: the Elemental Iquique by Alejandro Aravena, the Museo del Desierto de Atacama by Ramon Coz and others, the Edificio BIP Computers by Alberto Mozo and the “Termas Geotermicas” by German del Sol. Once you entered to the cozy gallery there was a beautiful image of the Chilean map (the same one on this blog) shining on the left wall of the room, I could notice it was backlit with three fluorescent tubes and it was the main character in this mini-exhibition.   The exhibition based its show on digital media, displaying the works of architecture on three big screens located under the image of the Chilean map. Images of the different pieces of architecture, actual photos and renderings appeared in the screens; each of them showing a different project. It was a little bit annoying having to stand in there in front of these three screens waiting to see all of the 12 architectural works. The wall on the back was used to project some drawings of the works. White drawings projected on a black surface. The experience was very similar to the one with the screens; if there was an special work that I wanted to see I had to stand in there and wait for the other 11 works to show up.

It was a completely directed exhibition. It was impossible to create your own experience, to look at it in your own way. I understand the dimensions of the space were limiting but I was expecting to have a little bit more options to experience it. The lack of real objects was its biggest weakness. Me and my friends were expecting to see real drawings, sketches, actual models, real objects that could give us a better understanding of the process behind these 12 architectural works and create a stronger connection with them but it didn’t happen. Moreover the gallery looked more like a travel agency; it was full of catalogs promoting Chile and typical Chilean products for sell. The exhibition itself was so weak that I am still wondering, was this exhibition really about Chilean architecture or was it just an excuse to promote this gallery and tourism in Chile?

Ma. Antonia Villegas


One response to “Exhibiting Architecture or Promoting Tourism?

  1. Many museums use their architecture as a promotion and tourism. One could look towards the Guggenheim Bilbao, which many have dubbed the “Bilbao effect”, the boost in tourism that affected the economics. However, according to The Art Museum from Boullee to Bilbao by Andrew McClellan, the backlash can be seen in the “loft museums [that are] “nonarchitextural” (p. 98). There seems a tendency to lean towards one or the other, an architectural statement or the reclining of the architecture into the background.

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