The conversation “Postcolonial Landscape: Image and Latin American Relations,” between the architect and PhD in Theory and History of Art Amari Peliowski and Landscape Architect Anita Berrizbeitia culminates the first cycle of the dialogues “Discovering the Chilean Landscape,” organized by the Landscape Culture Corporation. Each dialogue of this first version is an attempt to understand and appreciate our landscape, perceived as the result of the interaction between nature and human settlements and as an opportunity to develop tomorrow’s identity and heritage.
This Thursday, June 8, completed the cycle of dialogues “Discovering the Chilean Landscape,” organized by the Landscape Culture Corporation (www.culturadepaisaje.com), whose objective was to build new Chilean landscape narratives capable of identifying and representing fragments of the past, revealing some of the stories that our landscape tells.
In this the third dialogue, we had Amarí Peliowski, architect and PhD in Theory and History of Art with a mention in architecture and landscape from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales of Paris, and Anita Berrizbeitia, Landscape Architect and current Director of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University. Starting from a conversation about the search for modernity through the construction of a landscape capable of representing the scope of postcolonial development, Amarí and Anita brought us closer to understanding the Latin American landscape and particularly that of Santiago as the result of a process of conquest and territorial domestication capable of overcoming a condition traditionally identified as “wild, backward, and poor.”
From the results of research carried out individually and in conjunction with Catalina Valdés PhD in art and language, Peliowski explained the evolution of the discourse on civilization and modernity desirable for a remote place like Chile. The discourse successively reflected: a deliberate representation of a territorial condition of contrasts (built by man versus natural exterior); the search for constructing an idea of nation starting from the implanting of an image of civilization, order, and evangelization (understood in this context as modernity); the strategic location of projects capable of vesting such modernity visibly within the urban fabric; and the transformation of the natural space through the use of modern techniques (mostly resulting from advances in engineering) and of the implementation of an overarching program.
As concrete examples of anthropization as a gesture of emancipation and revaluation of place, Amarí presented, first, the engravings made by Alonso de Ovalle during the 17th century, arguing that they represent architecture not only as an image of man conquering nature, but also as one of the first modern imaginaries in a territory in the process of being conquered (Fig. 1). A second example pointed to was the appropriation of Santa Lucia Hill by the city from the second half of the nineteenth century, where the ideology of a homeland and a nation through the transformation of a mass of stones was constructed in what the Mayor of Santiago Benjamin Vicuña Mackenna would call the first “aerial plaza” of the city. This developed a process of exchange and valorization of a place outside Europe (Fig. 2).
Undoubtedly one of the remarkable moments of the dialogue was the reading that Berrizbeitia made of the necessary questioning of the so-called canon of the imperialist project, understood as the model of transformation established at a distance that postcolonial theory suggests has to be replaced by valuing this anthropization at the hands of local enterprises. Under this view, the Western canon has valued the “patrimonial age” − the older the work, the more valuable − to quickly position the artistic and architectonic European production above that of the American continent. A postcolonial posture would diminish the importance of the age of the work, valuing it according to its own merits, at the same time according to its hybrid condition above and beyond the essentialist or singular posture of interpretation, leaving opened the question of what would then be a workable methodology to recognize the landscape within the postcolonialist project.
The second version of the cycle of dialogues “Discovering the Chilean Landscape” will continue on Thursday August 31 with the conversations around culinary, artistic and musical records in relation to the development of landscape in Chile. The sessions will be held in the Auditorium of the PUC School of Architecture, El Comendador 1936, 4th floor. Free to the public, limited space available. Registration: email@example.com
Organized by the Landscape Culture Corporation in collaboration with Master’s in Landscape Architecture Program UC /School of Architecture UC / LOFscapes/Santiago Adicto / Viña Santa Rita / La Popular Pizza y Pan /Quesos Tambo Alto.
Additional Bibliography: Anita Berrizbeitia and Romy Hecht, ‘Latin American Geographies: A glance over an immense landscape’, Harvard Design magazine 34 (2011), pp. 4–13 · Amarí Peliowski, ‘La conquista de la naturaleza: el imaginario arquitectónico de Alonso de Ovalle en el siglo XVII’(The Conquest of nature: the architectural imaginary of Alonso de Ovalle in the 17th century) ARQ 94 (Dic. 2016), pp. 98–107