Santiago: museums and football

Santiago is a place stuck somewhere between the utter postmodernity of Western cities and the real life harshness of the cities of the Third World. It is already far from the latter, but not quite there with the former. In any case it is refreshing to find in Santiago a lot of contemporary art and museums curated in a modern way.

The permanent exposition in the GAM museum (Gabriela Marques cultural centre):

There are also temporary expositions, one of which, devoted to contemporary dance in Latin America, I already mentioned in my previous post. There is also a wonderful public library open to all and full of visitors. I spent there several hours, as I found a number of interesting books in the public hall and just could not stop reading.

The main building of GAM public library:

The library hall full of diligent students:

Internal covered plaza of GAM with a huge fish swimming in the sea, by day:

as well as by night:

An exhibition in the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC):

Centro Cultural de la Moneda. This vast cultural centre is right under the presidential palace and the adjacent square. There was a lot of interesting things going on there, for example a cinematheque with free access, showing every day in two theatres a number of alternative and documentary movies. I visited one showing – the space was full!

The main exhibition was at the time devoted to Africa, composed of objects from the Berlin museum collection. I made several photos secretly of amazing objects created by civilisations of black Africa before the European conquest. This exhibition was very striking in that it reminded me how much cultural diversity was destroyed by the advance of more or less homogenous European culture.

Royal drinking horn as well as a vessel

A statue of a queen-mother from Benin

Chile has got as many as two Nobel laureates, the poet Gabriela Mistral as well as the poet Pablo Neruda. Neruda was Mistral’s pupil at some points; but the pupil’s influence on the public consciousness far exceeds that of the teacher. He is omnipresent in the discourse. In Santiago you can visit one of his private homes, of which he had three (the others are in Valparaíso and in Isla Negra). The house of Pablo Neruda is truly magical. Due to stupid rules you cannot take photos inside, so I cannot share the playful, artsy, relaxed, poetic atmosphere of this wonderful place. Each room is like a poem, where every object has a name, a history, a meaning. Neruda was an active politician, as well as a bon vivant, he loved huge parties with a lot of guests. And of course there is a love story. The house in Santiago is called La Chascona, which means “Disheveled” and refers to this muse and wife for the last decades of his life, who he met when he was married to another woman and with whom he had at first a secret love affair conducted in this house. The entrance to La Chascona:

The view out of La Chascona’s windows:

Museums are a moderated, artificial experience. Perhaps the opposite impression of Santiago is the football. When I was there, the final qualification matches for the football world cup were taking place there. In the Latin American group the Chilean squad was all the time at the verge of qualification, and almost every match there was a chance to secure the qualification depending on how this match goes as well as the outcome of other matches played at the same time. It was a real obsession, people walked up to me on the street to claim emphatically “we will win today!”, at the moment of the match the city died out and all cafés were full of people staring at screens.

One of such moment, at the bus station. Focus of attention of the semicircle – the match against Colombia.

Café full of fans. Match with Ecuador.

The entrance to a restaurant announcing that the match Chile-Ecuador will be shown in HD. And of course untranslatable Vamos mierda!

When that match finished in a draw, which was enough to qualify, the city exploded in celebration. In this café the TV shows the fireworks marking the qualification. It is also the main news on all the TV channels.

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