May 31 – Heritage Day in Chile – we toured, reconsidered, and reconstructed Santiago of the 1960s on a bicycle ride organized by the collective Bicipaseos Patrimoniales (Heritage Bike Tours) based on memories of the city recorded in the film Largo Viaje (Long Journey) from 1967.
In the mid-nineteenth century, cinema was positioned as a platform to discover and imagine the city, the landscape, and the territory. From its multiple meanings, cinema can be understood as a form of recording that highlights the rapid and, often, dizzying urban intervention, as a descriptive tool that registers what has the potential to disappear.
On this note, on May 31 – Heritage Day in Chile – the collective and cultural center Bicipaseos Patrimoniales (Heritage Bike Tours) (1) summoned the inhabitants of Santiago to tour the city from the perspective of the cinematographic work Largo Viaje (Long Journey) from 1967 directed by Patricio Kaulen (2). Along the 10 km traveled through the foundational area of Santiago, the route was scheduled to start at the Plaza Italia – Baquedano Subway Station – towards the Bulnes Axis (3.7 km). From this first stop, the route advanced to the Plaza de Armas (3 km), then continued towards the Mapocho Railway Station, passing by the Municipal Theater, the former National Congress, the Mapocho River and La Pergola de las Flores (The Flower Market) (1.7 km). Finally, the journey concluded with the exhibition of Kaulen’s film at the Camilo Henríquez Theater of the Circle of Journalists of Santiago on Amunátegui Street (1.6 km).
(1) According to its creators, “Bicipaseos Patrimoniales is a Cultural Center created in 2012 to promote an understanding of the Metropolitan Region’s cultural heritage, through activities that promote the use of the bicycle as a sustainable means of transport. The objective of the tours is for citizens to recognize different urban scenarios and problems that make visible the heritage of the city through an innovative experience. In this sense, heritage is understood beyond its architectural perspective, as a set of goods, beliefs, traditions or social practices that have historical importance for the community and that ultimately give identity to a neighborhood, community or city. ” See <www.bicipaseopatrimoniales.cl>
(2) The 2006 film was restored by the Cineteca Nacional in the laboratories of the Filmoteca de la UNAM, México, with support from the Fondo Audiovisual de las Artes. See more information at Cineteca Nacional (2015) <www.cinetecanacional.cl/>
By incorporating the ‘movement’ factor, cinema has the ability to position us in a certain time and space, managing to rebuild and re-imagine those landscapes that, with real estate development and the replacement and implementation of new infrastructure, among other factors, have been altered in use, program and form. For this reason, each part of the tour was linked to some location of the film, and each stop sought to establish and develop a critical argument about the formal and cultural development of our current urban landscape.
In this context, the film is an exercise in memory allowing us to establish and contrast different realities, while reviving the identity of the Santiago of the 1960s: our Creole tradition, the daily life of the locals, the occupation of the riverbed of the Mapocho, the internal life of the Flower Market and the Central Market, the urban role of the General Cemetery and of traditional streets and avenues, such as Argomedo, Nueva York, and La Paz. Simple initiatives like this, but at the same time sophisticatedly articulated, help us to treasure our history and identity.
The events of Bicipaseos are held once or twice a month and are free and open to the public. For more information and a calendar of specific events, see Bicipaseos Patrimoniales (2015) <www.bicipaseospatrimoniales.cl>
Largo Viaje (Long Journey) can be seen with free admission at the Digital Archive of the National Cineteca: <www.cinetecadigital.ccplm.cl>