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Art & Social Space
Al Zur-ich Urban Art Encounter: Quito
by Maria Belen Moncayo

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Two other works, Fantasmagorí­a del Rastro (2004) by Miguel Alvear (1964, Quito) and Lo Bueno, Lo Bello y Lo Verdadero (2005) by Falco are worthy of a more fuller analysis. The chronological pertinence of these works, added to the forcefulness of the installations and are determining factors that potentialize the projects.

Fantasmagorí­a del Rastro (Phantasmagoria of the Trace), presented originally in the 2004 Al-Zurich, with the participation of Fabiano Kueva and Mayra Estevez, was a sort of transposition of energy, of the nature of culture, of the reality of fiction, of the past to the present; a multimedia intervention whose purpose reminds us of the video-installation of Beryl Korot(10) made in 1975: Dachau 1974, a work that contended with the space and architecture of a Nazi concentration camp, now converted into a tourist trap.

Sunday, 13th June, 2004, from 11 p.m. onwards, Quitoí­s old slaughterhouse, better known as Camal, was inhabited, for more than an hour, by Alvearí­s multimedia intervention; an effort to recover lost time. It is in this space once inhabited by the Camal — actually the Chiriyacu Commercial Center (Ch.C.C.) — that quite literally no trace of the past has remained.

The Ch.C.C. is merely a municipally funded link in the chain of Thrifty Commercial Centers, which — within the dynamics of "urban regeneration" — aim to displace the informal street trade from the Historic Colonial Center to buildings whose excessive hygiene has contributed more to visual hybridization than to the growth of formal use. In the specific case of the Ch.C.C., whose actual buying-public does not meet the expectations of commercial affluence hoped for by the government, we today find merchandize originating from the Chinese black market — exhibited on Caucasian-looking mannequins, manufactured in Ecuador — sold by indigenous people and migrants from the provinces, who have become the new tenants of the old Camal. These elements paint a paroxysmal esthetic that informs the imagery in Fantasmagorí­a del Rastro.

In 1991, using 16mm film, Alvear recorded the animal slaughtering process in the Camal, and the commerce related to this activity. These images were projected twelve years later, on a monumental scale onto and inside the building where, nowadays, the Ch.C.C. does business. Alvear used translucent paper that was placed on the windows and doors of the facade, by way of screens. Similarly, plastic strips, like those found on doorways of walk-in refrigerators were hung over the main entrance where images of bleeding lambs were revived. Upon these new "canvases", with which the artist dressed the building, one could see scenes of smoking pigs, cowí­s heads, decapitated lambs, jars of animalí­s blood, slaughter house workers, and children "bull-fighting" lambs before their parents took them to the slaughter house.

The tacit abjection of the space is subverted by the author. Under his sensitive gaze all possible sensation of repulsion disappears and draws us into a contemplative state, sustained by a soundtrack — fragments from Arvo Pçrtí­s Te Deum, sounds of the slaughtering process, and technocumbia beats (11)- that underlines the apocalyptic sense of the images in their temporal transposition. Both the public electric supply and that of the Commercial Centerí­s generators were suspended for the effect. The only available light, that of the projected images, filtered through nine video tubes that projected the work onto the "regenerated" building. On the inside, two monitors installed in the interior corridors, plus those of the building securityí­s closed circuit system, transmitted images of clothing stores; video-recorded a few days before the work took place. The editing allowed one to see that, from one store to another, the artist had set out plaster piggy banks, shaped liked friendly animals, suitable for future monetary savings worked to the tune of a popular refrain Bueno-Bonito-Barato (Good-Pretty-Cheap). It was at this point that the municipal authorities decided that it is time to send everyone packing, with their music, to other parts.

Time dictates the guideline. Will the shine of the impeccable floor tiles of the resplendent Chiriyacu Commercial Center be a tool for "normalizing architectonic/urban policies"? I hazard the guess that the pattern will repeat itself: Slaughter house workers and retailers will alter the installations to their own image and likeness...; it will be left to them to recover lost time.

In the most recent 2005 edition of Al Zur-ich, Falco (Cuenca 1972) presented Lo Bueno, Lo Bello, Lo Verdadero (The Good, the Beautiful, and the True). For each person, for all people, there is some object, piece, element that we may consider to be the most beautiful or truest thing we own. The value of that thing does not have to be determined by artistic, cultural, social, economic, hegemonic, or critical circuits. The value is dictated by each one of us and transcends any commercial, market, fashion, antique or vanguard driven estimates. For us it may have the same, or greater, value than a ‘work of artí­. (12)

In the search for the appropriate neighborhood, Falco goes into southern Quito and elects to work in Las Colectivas: a neighborhood whose urbanistic disposition, its peculiar design that resembles the European workerí­s houses of the 1940í­s (identical long and narrow, two story structures) delineate the ideal space in which to carry out his proposal. Lacking taxonomic intentions and, more accurately, armed with his five senses, the artist knocks on the doors of the inhabitants and in each house discovers a new "Pandoraí­s Box". After a unanimously positive response, the (non)objects were exhibited in two modalities: some were viewed on the sidewalk in front of each house, while others required that the public enter into the living room; this latter option greatly expanded the potential scope of the work, the interior powerfully translates the Good, the Beautiful, and the True that each proprietor decided to exhibit for the public.

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