CHANGING PLACES / ESPACIOS REVELADOS exchanges the interior of the theatre for the wide scenery of the capital. Abandoned residential and commercial buildings, imposing empty banks, a railroad bridge over the Riachuelo, and terraces high above the city, as well as walls and facades in public places are converted into a stage by outstanding theater and performance artists.
When the doors of long vacant buildings are opened in March 2014 and their rooms fill with people, a location transformation will take place in many respects: The transformation aims to mobilize people in the city to explore new places in two districts, Microcentro and La Boca, which will be connected by shuttle buses, and to experience how these places and their architecture have changed through artistic ideas. In the process, people’s perspectives of urban environments also change and another map of the city can be drawn.
Artists have been asked to respond to specific placesand urban situations with their own proposals. In their works, they assimilate the visible and invisible traces a city leaves behind in the course of its development. They shift time and space, and evoke the imagination, doubt, and hope found in the people and the city in which their work is embedded. They also occupy places with words and send messages into the public space, which they bring into play as a central element of community identification.
Mariana Tirantte and Mariano Pensotti have transformed the hall of Tornquist Bank into a “City in Dreams” with more than one hundred model houses. The doubts and hopes of people from the city are on signs mounted to the models, based on the ritual of Argentine pilgrims bringing their sacrificial offerings in the form of miniatures to the popular folk-religious Difunta Corea figure. The texts use the language of advertising, which can be seen everywhere on billboards, store windows, and even protest signs. The intervention counters the placeless state of utopia with the dream with that already all places have and responds to concrete situations.
Federico León’s project “La última película" (The Last Film) is located in one of the numerous cinemas that have been converted into parking garages. Today, cars stand where people once came to see movies. León reverses the order and shows the last movie before the cinema’s closing. Through the city, the young Argentine director Magdalena Arau follows the path of a Spanish galleon stranded on the Rio de la plata, which was discovered during work on a real estate project and later relocated. Alejandro Tantanian guides visitors around terraces in the city center, in pursuit of an architect and his Latin American and European ideals. At the Puente Fuerroviario, where the train travels from Puerto Madero to La Boca, Beatriz Catania together with 40 performers performs texts from Dante’s “Inferno.” Scars are revealed when Catani follows the trail of the passenger train that fell into the river from an open bridge in 1930. In his video “Old House,” Lebanese director Rabih Mroué takes issues with the remembering and forgetting of a traumatized society through a crumbling building.
In his performative installation “From where I was I’ve already Left,” Brazilian director and author Leonardo Moreira follows the path of a life or even an unlived life in an empty building. He relocates his childhood house in one of the oldest homes in Buenos Aires and welcomes viewers to reconstruct five “lifetimes,” which together form a type of social image.
Even if social issues are omnipresent in the public space, they come closer to us through location transformation. With his installation “I’M HERE,” Julian Hetzel enables an encounter with a homeless person whom he moves off the streets into an empty house.
The artists also find themes in the void itself, which points to what is missing and seeks presence. In “Empty Stages,” Hugo Glendinning and Tim Etchells present 50 photographs of empty stages from around the world, amateur theaters, clubs, conference stages, and city theaters. In the abandoned theater in Buenos Aires, the photographs communicate a space not only of expectation but also of interest in another world. La Ribot also occupies an empty space in a five-hour performance, which transforms it into an installation space with countless words. Vivi Tellas dedicates a museum to the city’s pigeons, empty buildings and occupied areas. In a pigeon release, residents send their messages into the city with carrier pigeons. The only thing the pigeons know is how to return.
The durational performance “Some Imperatives” from Tim Etchells renders the character of the city with a series of poetic messages. The British director has also mounted a neon sign on the front of the Buenos Aires city hall. The interventions call on the city to reflect its contradictory dreams and possibilities. They bring into play public space as a central element of community identification.
Places need people who perceive and use them. Two choreographic installations invite city residents to make their own contribution: In William Forsythe’s installation “Scattered Crowd,” visitors can bring a bank hall into a state of suspension. “Garden State” from MAMAZA calls on city dwellers to transform an abandoned building into a green oasis with their plants and create a social space of encounter.
Siemens Stiftung, Gobierno de la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Ministerio de Cultura, El Cultural San Martín, Subsecretaría de Desarrollo Urbano y Viviend
In cooperation with: Fundación M.I.R.A., Acumar, Edificio Tornquist, Palacio Reconquista, Galería Güemes, Edificio Bencich, Edificio Lanusse, Banco Hipotecario, Secretaría Legal y Técnica de la Nación, Estacionamiento Cuadras, Cine Teatro Dante, Museo de la Ciudad, Casa del Sur, Barraca Peña, IUNA, Centro Rural de Arte.