Date of Degree

9-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Art History

Advisor

Anna Indych-López

Committee Members

Katherine Manthorne

Rosemarie Bletter

Patricio del Real

Subject Categories

Architectural History and Criticism | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Literature | Modern Art and Architecture

Keywords

Latin American modernism, experimental architecture, pedagogy, Southern Cone, Chile, poetics, ephemerality

Abstract

In 1952, Chilean architect Alberto Cruz (1917–2013) and Argentine poet Godofredo Iommi (1917–2001) launched one of the most idiosyncratic experiments in postwar art and architectural pedagogy in the industrial port of Valparaíso, Chile. Founded on the premise that architecture must be “co-generada” with poetry, the so-called Valparaíso School developed an expanded conception of the discipline that encompassed ephemeral forms, from urban drifting to performative and ludic actions. This dissertation examines four specific “acts” in the Valparaíso School’s corpus: the exhibition, the poetic act, the journey, and the game. Across these different forms, I identify a tendency toward openness, improvisation, indeterminacy, and participation in the School's discourse and activities that corresponded with regional and global experimentation in postwar artistic education and neo-avant-garde collective practices. The School, however, developed a distinct approach informed by poetry rather than technology or communication theory, and in isolation from contemporary art circles. My study tracks the implications of the School’s “open” artistic project and pedagogy against key shifts in the evolving sociopolitical and economic context in its first thirty years of existence, from 1952 to 1982, which spanned postwar developmentalism, Cold War geopolitics, and the era of Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship (1973–1990). Examining the School’s archive of “ephemeral architectures” within this historical context, I argue that the School’s project was undergirded by a paradox between its rhetoric and aesthetic of openness and a type of closure—at times, “openness” operated as a liberating pedagogical and artistic strategy, and at others, elided the conflictive politics of its present. In doing so, this dissertation examines the contradictions of a dynamic less thoroughly examined in histories of vanguardism in Latin America, and interrogates the possibilities and limitations of such an “experimental pedagogy.”

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