drucken Bookmark and Share

Teobaldo Lagos Preller

A Former Jail, A Diagram, A Space for Openness: What Is to Be Done? Interview with Justo Pastor Mellado, Chilean Curator and Critic

When Justo Pastor Mellado assumed the position as the director of Parque Cultural de Valparaíso—a cultural center located in the building of a former jail—he thought about the transformation of what he calls the diagram of a work of art into specific practices for the interaction of the center with communities living beyond the limits of the territory.


The Parque was founded 2011 in the building of one of the former jails of Valparaíso, the most important Chilean port. By the beginning of the 20th century, it served as a place for the reclusion of anarchists. During Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship, this building worked as a normal jail and operated as a center for the detention and torture of political prisoners. By the end of the 1990s, already nine years after the return of democracy, the jail was emptied by the authorities. The normal prisoners were transferred to other prisons, and then it was occupied by artists, self-organized cultural collectives, and relatives of the political prisoners, who turned the space into an autonomous venue for reflection about the immediate past and cultural activities.

The people in charge of the occupied cultural center sometimes had a conflictive but rather productive relationship with the municipality. After some time of activity, the local government approved the allocation of resources for going on with the project. A commission was formed by members of the local government and the occupiers.

Santiago, 2010: the first right-wing government led by Sebastián Piñera since 1990 assumes power, integrating several actors from different political sectors into the field of culture. The new governmental cultural project sought social cohesion through some recovery of republican and national values. Luciano Cruz-Coke—an actor working in theatre and television—is called to be Minister of Culture, and he designates Justo Pastor Mellado to be the director of the Parque. Pastor Mellado had the goal of re-negotiating the meanings of the space and reformulating the relationship with a broader community than the one already existing: individuals or groups living around the several hills, self-organized or not; active and passive members of the constellation running the Park. The transversal goal of this new integration dispositive would be an axis for consolidating Valparaíso as one of the most important cultural capitals of the South American country.

The Diagram: Levels of Interaction
The communities outside the boundaries seem then to emerge from a space of silence and evidence: their daily cultural practices, such as popular gastronomy, dances, and forms of interaction like community gardening, are sought and articulated as levels for interaction. Mellado understands these as organic elements of “an editorial procedure”: “Its duty? To put to work a diagram of work, which would be like an archaic drawing of a narrative energy inside of which furrow, in a certain moment, an irrevocable density fixes the character of a block of discursive events.”[1]

The notion of the diagram, alluding to Foucault’s dispositif [2], has a permanent presence in Mellado's work. Basically, this is understood by him as the way by which a schematic model of reality is presented through the work in an exhibition space and through a set of practices being involved. The complex displays new possibilities for filiation of works with other works as well as with social, cultural, and economic constellations forming possible levels of reading. The exhibition itself is consequently a position in another wider diagram, in which relationships with the outer world are woven and codified. A diagram is a model constellation by which the research-based curatorial practice focuses on fractures, junctions, and new filiations that challenge traditional historiography.

The resulting and unexpected narrative path is a ravine, a fissure in which new knowledges may become able to emerge. This is applied by Mellado according to the landscape and topography of Valparaíso. One example: La Quebrada (which in Chilean Spanish means ravine) is a metaphor used by the Chilean curator describing activities beyond the boundaries of the building, beyond the physical space where the institution is placed.

Chile is a country strongly related to agriculture, for which production even until the second half of 20th century was structured according to the logics of feudal capitalism: great landowner families occupied and exploited most of the land, forcing the poor to cultivate and take care of cattle in difficult terrains. The gardening practices developed by the community at the former jail—according to Mellado—functioned as a performative realization and reproduction of the practices coming from the margins. Thus, La Quebrada is represented by him as an imaginary crack in the soil where validating their right to own and manage the territory of their collective practice necessarily involved the recreation of an attempt to survive under the most difficult conditions of (self-)marginalization.

The Chilean curator calls this mode or attitude against and in the world a “Culture of the Ravine”:

“The inner space of the house is a place in which things will happen, things we don’t know yet but which we can foresee. What happens inside of the greenhouse is an alteration of the interior temperature. I would like the greenhouse to change the cultural temperature of the city. Then, the greenhouse turns into an emblem and a model for enunciation,” [3] writes Mellado in the foundational essay of the Parque, Escritura Funcionaria (Functionary Writing).

Valparaíso, 2013: The former occupiers, supported by the local government, make a call to elect a new director. Mellado, paradoxically, has to participate and defend his position as director, reiterating his application through a letter of intent, in which he defends the idea that the park had the goal of “accelerating the formal imaginaries of the port (of Valparaíso)”: “One cultural center is a dispositif for the acceleration of the local imaginary. One dispositif is a compound of proceedings aimed to field research, a reading of the context, the design of answers, the setup of initiatives for participation.” [4]

The architectural gesture of appropriation, deconstruction, and reordering of the building according to a new relationship with the community was in dialogue with Mellado's approach to generating new spaces for the public sphere in interaction with a center devoted to professional arts in a place for community representation and reflection. The new architectural project by Jonathan Holmes, Martin Labbé, Carolina Portugueis, and Osvaldo Spichiger dropped walls down, opened corridors, and most importantly of all, maintained most corridors and walls that recall the original appearance of the austere, modest, and hermetic appearance of the building, literally opening it to the transit of people and producing an impression of a site of memory and an open, functional monument at the same time. The entrances, passages, walls, and empty spaces of the structure prove that in a former space for repression and occupation, some other levels of reading and interaction are possible.

Some artistic patterns of the collectivization of knowledge and practices became central to Mellado’s project to develop new forms of interacting with the community: artistic residencies and clinics. [5] In this sense, the Parque had two exhibition spaces showing works by international and national contemporary artists reflecting and creating in relationship to the historical density of the space and daily life in Valparaíso. These have continued to work as such beyond his period as a director.

Parque Cultural de Valparaiso, HLPS Arquitectos, 2011

A Letter of Defense
The diagram as conceived by Mellado was a conceptual framework based on the idea of “a theory of three functions,” as he says in his letter of defense and intent presented to the Oficina Comunitaria Funcional (Functional Community Office), a board composed by the former occupiers in charge of validating or voting against his decisions as a director. The letter is in a way paradoxical: the director of a museum is obliged to participate in a contest after his vertical designation, and he has to defend himself against the accusations of elitism:

“I apply hereby for the position as a director of the Parque Cultural de Valparaíso because I have to complete the framing project for its opening. I have first had to formulate this framing, being sanctioned by the board of the OCF during 2011. Secondly, I have had to set a dispositif in order to transform into programs of action the hypothesis I have formulated during the elaboration of this framing. I have to insist that this is a dispositif for the formal acceleration of the local imaginary that is formulated based on the realization of its three functions: the one of a cultural center, the function of an arts center and the function of a community center.” [6] [7]

“This is not a center for proximity but a center for centralized expansion,” he argues, “Its aim is to articulate actions for the strengthening of local practices so that they can be inscribed in an international context. There is no internal policy but an exterior fiction. The park is in Valparaíso but its projection is on the level of the neighborhood, the commune, the region, it’s a center to be projected nationally and internationally. The collaborative role that the Parque is able to have has not been sufficiently considered, nor have the possibilities of interaction with other municipal cultural centers in the region.” [8]

Spaces of Anticipation
Teobaldo Lagos Preller: We speak about spaces of anticipation when we find practices that, in a certain way, do not call for a classic notion of the public sphere (the space for discussion about current realities between the State and its citizens), but a dimension of expectation in public space: objects, subjects, and structures in which they work as such are parts of scenarios in which we recreate the present, maybe in order to imagine a new future. This is the way you did it at the Parque: the public sphere is one beyond the words, actions, and gestures and beyond a specific place, they are transcendent regarding the site and project themselves into an idea for future public cultural, arts and community centers. This constant drifting between past, present, and future is a sort of liquid essence of the contemporary, with whose surface we can play. Where and towards what do we anticipate?

Justo Pastor Mellado: The notion of anticipation is considered an affirmative approach, as a responsibility of “looking forward” and from there on to feel and serve as a vehicle for the desires of our neighbors. This is one form of anticipation that is open in its intentions and that opposes the anticipation that is an algorithm for control through which late capitalism may be able to operate and turn audiences and participation into commodities.

TLP: This confirms in some sort of way your interest for connecting the community that was formerly located around the prison and that is now a community and cultural center. This new connection with citizenship and the public sphere goes beyond any border and tries to develop a new future for daily life in the city. How does anticipation work in such an environment? Is it a form of expansion as we already know it, in the sense of generating dialectic dynamics?

JPM: All I produced as a proposal regarding my connection to the Parque Cultural de Valparaíso is referred to in the book Escritura funcionaria (Functionary Writing), which I published 2013. I synthesized in this book everything I had to write in order to “justify” my policies regarding the opponents of the project, who saw how their margins, their limits for extortion were diminished, like in relationship to a kind of cultural authority who didn't understand that it was about opening a center in which three partial functions collided: a center for the arts, a civic center and a cultural center. I have recently composed a project to be presented to the jury of the Bienal Sur (Biennale for Contemporary Art from South America), because I think it's an opportunity to show the validity of a work diagram. The title of the project is “¿Qué hacer?” (“What is to be done?”), and I can synthesize it in the following words: there are aesthetic effects of social and ritual practices that can be more consistent than much of the production of contemporary art. The title refers to Lenin's work entitled Chto delat (What Is To Be Done: Burning Questions of Our Movement) published in 1902. This decision can be explained because of an existing need to fix a relationship of forced dependence between one text and one (our) way of proceeding. There is in this case a displacement of the medium, because the text itself is being replaced by a protocol for action. This protocol is translated into social and ritual procedures, which will be set in relationships by the considered works. These are not classical works. They have to be understood as the expansion of a diagram of forces that brings into movement an interpretation about the consolidation of a settlement, presenting in its beginnings a level of instability and de-sovereignization, which will be paid off via autonomous social practices. These practices would be mostly executed beyond the reach of action of the public powers. They mostly realize their basic urbanization works very late, under the pressure of an existing reality they cannot omit.

TLP: What kind of role does the Parque as an exhibition space play as a contact zone? What is the program, the path to be followed in order to search for this integration between community and institution? I ask this because practices like agriculture, local dances, gastronomy, etc. have a certain immateriality that makes them not so easy to be apprehended and organized in a space for contemporary art and culture. What are the levels on which these practices can be organized?

JPM: First of all, the project didn’t contemplate any exhibitions as such. The designated practices produce gestural groups, sound recordings, and objectual displays emphasizing the visibility of their procedures. This project is very similar to what we have mounted at Parque Cultural de Valparaíso. Nevertheless, there are no exhibitions this time, but we instead make some procedures visible whose shaping introduces a space for determining aesthetic effects. The project thus conceives of realizing experiences of community kitchens around the fabricating and consuming of three key elements of the Valparaíso, porteña diet of the poor [9], which means: pork sausage-making, preparing seaweed like the cochayuyo [10], cooked, smoked crab (a sort of sea bacon), and the production of local spirits (through the maceration of different herbs). And secondly: the project also consists of the realization of encounters aimed to produce situations of live performances: cueca porteña [11] as a socially complex choreography, being displayed on a model of the Décima Espinela (a 10-line-stanza), and the connections to some local practices of contemporary dance. Third: the project contemplates the mise-en-scène of a sequence of little field research initiatives aimed at collecting the effects that are bonding practices of association as those mentioned above.

TLP: Hospitality is the notion recovered from Parmenides by Derrida in the decade of the 1980s in order to create a form for speaking about the recognition of the other as a xenos: the one coming from abroad, from the outside, speaking another langue. During his or her visit, the foreigner learns the language, s/he teaches and discusses the reality in which s/he's been invited to live. He or she thus enriches the agora or the public sphere. We are experiencing a turn in Europe nowadays, in the sense that there is a transformation, a crisis of the borders as they had been defined up to now. I'm talking about the refugee crisis. The problem of borders is being reformulated in this sense. It creates an unexpected present time, and it has the effect of making evident the need for designing new programs of actions.

JPM: Oh, no... I would say that in Chile we are experiencing a crisis of hospitality. Everything began because of a crisis of political representation, for which the aftermath was an institutional crisis, which at the same time anticipated the legitimacy of the system installed during the post-dictatorship. But the whole thing began with a sort of agreement to which several actors and parties came and which made possible the (never-ending) transition to democracy. The problem of borders has been reformulated inside of the inside of the nation-state in a panicked, lethal way, freezing the discourse on possibility of recognizing multicultural rights that are at the same time related to some forms of territorial self-determination. Knowing full well that the state criminalizes the Mapuche’s [12] demands, it's not possible to think about hospitality as such. One of the things that have surprised me the most about this whole situation is the burning of churches and chapels by a radicalized group. But, why radicalized? They simply enact a symptom of the spiritual genocide realized by the churches as an ideological and religious vehicle for exclusion. So, today, they burn chapels. There have been more than one hundred burned down during the past year. This is indicative of the rancor, which is far from being absorbed by any kind of hospitality. But these are not all borders. Strong forms of discrimination take place within the cities, among some cities and others, among regions; the unconscious of rurality is always present as a form of symbolic infrastructure of the forms for the production of subjectivity.

Challenges and Projections
TLP: In this sense: what challenges do you think those working within the cultural apparatus are facing in Chile?

JPM: A year ago, I published a text in an online Catalonian magazine that I had written about two years ago and that had the title “Los ricos no necesitan Ministerio de Cultura” (The Rich Don't Need a Ministry of Culture Because They Can Transform their Private Tastes Directly into Public Policy).[13] The problem of public policies is formulated to satisfy some constructed deficient elements according to a justification of the structure. Nowadays, the debate in Chile is centered in the formation of a “New Ministry” of Cultures, Arts, and Heritage. The resulting model is being discussed in the Parliament as a discursive corpus whose aim is to expose the prejudices of a political group that has brought it into being. This political group assumes cultural practice, on the one hand, as a new kind of agit-prop, offering a very varied menu of compensation services, as happened with the former squatters of the center. From my point of view, this is not the kind of debate to hold, because it means to remain under the empire of desire of the bureaucrats. Because, on the other hand, an enormous amount of violence is exerted over the traditional institutions or entities that have historically sustained the material, visual, and scriptural narratives of our country.

TLP: What are the borders in such an environment, and what are the possibilities for translation and negotiation inside of them?

JPM: Just consider that I don't need to refer to Europe when we talk about xenophobia. It's just a matter of recovering habitual practices of the communities and non-guaranteed groups. There is a district close to Santiago in which the neighbors of an already installed settlement reject the arrival of new inhabitants because they will pollute what they have. Those coming are people of a “bad life” who are coming to disturb the life already recognized by traditional inhabitants who are, by the way, supported by the mayor. When I directed the Parque, the representatives of non-guaranteed groups on the board of the institution questioned my relevance because I was coming from the “outside” and hadn't “lived” through the phase of “occupation” of the area where the unaffected jail was placed. This fundamentalist vitalism is very common among the associates who live from state funding via very precarious forms of extortion. Finally, the squatters ended negotiations to get out of the former prison building in order to allow the renovation. But the district administration had to pay for their relocation and to assure the installation of the most radical group in another place. This is how the extortive business of subsidized radicalism works. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of a port such as Valparaiso claimed an original property that, in the end, promotes the exploitation of its own symbolic resources by their local agents.

TLP: Is there in any sense an expansion of the zone of autonomy of the cultural field towards spaces of the public?

JPM: My answer should be optimistic. It can't be. When I state the rich do not need a ministry of culture, I mean that structures of this kind are only being thought for the management of vulnerable settlements, so that I have suggested that the National Council for Culture should be an office depending on the Ministry of Interior. It's an insignificant joke. In Chile nowadays, the cultural sector is an economic sector depending on the entertainment industry. But these economies do not respond to industrial criteria. Many of them do not go beyond an existence as handicraft in which subjective, completely pre-capitalist relationships suggest that there is a desire to be managed by a sort of providential state. This means that this state awaits resources that pay off the lack of ubiquity of artistic production and sustains artists via subsidies “democratically” shared. Nevertheless, the structure is not capable of distributing such resources and keeping artists in a position of autonomy. By the way, why are you asking me this question on the autonomy of the cultural field? There is no such autonomy. There are autonomous practices with a middle life expectancy within a cultural field tolerating them as part of its fiction of inclusivity. [14]

TLP: How can we talk about a new form of “we” in a context like contemporary Chile? It would be interesting to appeal in this sense to the unitarian and illustrated background of the shaping of a mononational state such as the Chile, which doesn't conceive of any multicultural condition at all – neither within, as in the case of the relationship between the Chilean state and the Mapuche Nation; nor towards the outside (in terms of a deficient policy of reception for immigrants). You were talking with me the last time on Skype about the last theme, a “humanization of misery.”

JPM: Nevertheless, I would separate the problems you're proposing. There is no we. I mean, there is no dependence on this we regarding the National State, which has been deprived of responsibilities by the political society during the first half of the 20th century. The we of the Chilean post-dictatorship has lost legitimacy. One American economist has said in an interview that Chile doesn't take off because there are too many Chileans inside of the country.[15] Just imagine what this comment produced. The guy explained it even better: Chile is an endogamic country that is not going to develop if it doesn't tolerate the foreigner. The geographically isolated country has always experienced internal migrations: peasants without work and displaced people traveled to the Norte Grande to work in mining and saltpeter by the end of the 19th century. Miners and men from the countryside went down to the south when the great crisis of the ‘30s came. Then, in the central valley, the State assembled itself towards within, against the mobility of laborers. The international immigration of a cheap labor force is something relatively new and is not sufficiently considered in any policy at all.

TLP: Is there a transformation of the canons of legitimization of spaces like collecting, research on the arts, museum management, and heritage in Chile?

JPM: This is very incipient. Not because of the failure of the local system, but because of a decision not to have it. This is what happens with collections of classical Chilean painting, which only have a cultural value for the oligarchies. Nowadays, there are contemporary collectors, but they're few. Knowing this, the need for a sort of private collecting with a “public function” is incomprehensible for many people. On the other hand, there is no consistent public collecting because of carelessness, which is coherent with the dominating concept of institutional management. Research is insufficient because the conditions for its reproduction inside of the universities is insufficient as well. It's unbelievable. You just need to read the reviews of studies done during the past ten years. You can find many surprises. There is basically no historiographical work as such about Chilean art. What we can find there is taken on by very few universities, and the yearly production of individual units of historiographical work is not significant. We could say that some monographs and short-term studies are being done with the help of some funds for which you can apply (laughing ironically).


Justo Pastor Mellado (1949) is an independent art critic and curator. After studying political philosophy, his work has focused on addressing relations of transference and filiation in contemporary art from Chile and Latin America. He directed the School of Art of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and the School of Visual Arts and Photography at the UNIACC University in Santiago, Chile. He has written several monographs on Chilean artists, including José Balmes, Gracia Barrios, Carlos Leppe, Patricia Israel, Eugenio Téllez, Arturo Duclós, Ingrid Wildi, Camilo Yáñez, Gonzalo Mezza, Mario Navarro, Eugenio Dittborn, and 
Gonzalo Díaz, among others.

He has published La Novela Chilena del Grabado (1998); Textos estratégicos (2001); Textos de Batalla (2009); Escritura Funcionaria (2013); Escenas locales (2015); and Escritos de Sastre. He has curated several exhibitions for the São Paulo, MERCOSUR (Porto Alegre), Venice and Lima Biennials. He was the conceptualizer and general editor of the First Chile Triennial 2008 – 2009. Between 2010 and 2014, he directed the Parque Cultural de Valparaíso. Currently, he is Director of the Centro de Estudios de Arte (CEdA) in Santiago, Chile.

Teobaldo Lagos Preller (1978) is based in Berlin as a writer and a Ph.D. Associate Researcher at the Research Group "Art, Globalization, Interculturality" at the Universitat de Barcelona, after finishing the M.A. in Interdisciplinary Latin American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin and the B.A. in Communication Sciences at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City. His doctoral thesis is about the relationship about art and public sphere in Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall, focusing on the production of contact zones through art and exhibition practices. He's collaborated with the Freie Universität Berlin, the German Federal Foreign Office and the Jumex Foundation/Collection, as well as in art and theoretical projects as a curator and writer in Europe and Latin America.

J.P. Mellado, “Propuesta para la dirección del Parque Cultural de Valparaíso,” July 15, 2015, accessed December 11, 2016, http://justopastorvalparaiso.blogspot.de/2015/07/propuesta-de-justo-pastor-mellado-para.html.

2 The notion of the dispositif, or apparatus, is a constant aspect of Michel Foucault’s work, and it’s related to the analysis of an apparatus, which focuses on how social and technological histories are connected to each other and determine the way we relate to each other as well. An interesting review of the genealogy of the concept has been done by Sverre Raffnsøe, Marius Gudmand-Høyer, Morten S. Thaning in “What is a dispositive?,” December 19, 2014, accessed December 11, 2016, http://raffnsøe.com/?p=1226.

3 J.P. Mellado, Escritura Funcionaria (Buenos Aires: Curatoría Forense, 2013), 45.

4 Ibid., 54.

5 A clinic is an instance of interaction between artists in order to learn and improve a certain practice or personal artistic project through dynamics of exchange and collective learning.

6 Mellado, “Propuesta para la dirección del Parque Cultural de Valparaíso.”.

7 The three functions mentioned by Mellado in the apologist document are, as he argues, based on the general cultural policies installed by the national government: “These are described in the chapter for culture in the Regional Strategy of Development 2020, in which it is said that Valparaíso has a regional identity based on its cultural, social and territorial diversity that projects the city onto the national and international scenario. [...] It is therefore a region with a natural, cultural and historical heritage congregating and satisfying the demands for habitability and life quality of its inhabitants and visitors, with a growing attractive touristic potential in terms of coasts, valleys and mountains, whose wealth is situated in the local diversity. Every province, commune and locality inside of the region has its own traditions, festivities, customs and modes of life that have to be protected, valued and potentiated as an attraction in terms of heritage and tourism. In this sense, it has to be highlighted that the region is the main area for tourism for national as well as foreign visitors [...] Another quality in terms of its identity are its religious festivities, an expression of living syncretism resulting from the installation of religious orders and the most popular ritual customs. They all constitute manifestations of meaningful contributions of the region, and they testify to the component of popular religiosity that characterizes the cultural identity of its inhabitants.”

Mellado takes as examples the arts centers “Centre d ́art contemporain” in Grenoble and the “Centre d ́art contemporain Le Creux de L ́enfer” in Thiers. A cultural center is for him Matadero in Madrid. And a community center that is highlighted in his writings is “Centro Cultural Barrio Moravia” in Medellín, Colombia, a city that has become an example for implementing cultural policies for community life and urban development: “There experiences lead me to formulate plans for mediation and communication. I say this because some members of the board have asked themselves where did I take this proposal from and how far it can be understood as a certain kind of social innovation” (Ibid.)

8 Ibid.

9 The porteña diet of the poor is a metaphor conceived by Mellado in order to understand local gastronomy as one determined by economic, social, and cultural conditions. Porteño is the noun describing people from Valparaíso, the port.

10 Cochayuyo, or “bull kelp,” is the name of Durvillaea antarctica, a sort of seaweed located in the coasts of Chile and Peru, for which the date of its first consumption is estimated to be about 14,000 years ago in the south of the country. The cochayuyo or kollof (as it’s named in the indigenous Mapuche language Mapudungun) is very commonly used in the Chilean kitchen, eaten fried or boiled.

11 The cueca porteña is one of the variations Chilean national dance cueca, which consists of a re-creation of the courting between cock and hen. The instruments involved are guitar, tambourine, and accordion. Very similar to flamenco in the use of the guitar, it comes from the zamacueca, a colonial dance from Peru influenced by Andean, Spanish, and African cultures.

12 The most important Indigenous First Nation, whose territory is composed of lands in Chile and Argentina. The Mapuche maintain a fight for resistance against the Chilean state, demanding ownership of ancestral lands that have been in many cases transferred and sold illegally to families and companies since the founding of this state since the beginning of the 19th century, contradicting in many cases even agreements existing in the time of the Spanish colonization. The Mapuche Land has been progressively reduced since Chilean independence, though an important section of the actual Chilean territory officially belonged to them. This reduction has transformed the indigenous people into poor farmers, and there is no recognition by the Chilean Constitution of their autonomy as a nation within the territory, as Chile is legally understood as only one nation-state, avoiding a discussion on cultural diversity according to international and contemporary standards, as has been done in countries like Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, or even Paraguay, for example, where one indigenous language, the Guarani, is as official as Spanish. Nowadays, there is an armed conflict of low intensity between the Chilean government and the Mapuche, with minimal perspectives for resolution.

13 J.P. Mellado, “Los ricos no necesitan Ministerio de Cultura,” The Economy Journal, accessed December 11, 2016, http://www.theeconomyjournal.com/es/notices/2014/02/los-ricos-no-necesitan-ministerio-de-cultura-67058.php.

14 Here, Mellado is talking about the Chilean Funds for Art and Culture, which is a system of application for funding created during the 1990s in order to democratize the production of culture in the country, allowing all possible actors to participate in it. The system is frequently criticized within the arts field because of its narrow criteria, which are mostly based on variables such as foreseeable impact (quantity of visitors/audience), projection of the image of the country nationally and abroad, and paternalism, preventing creators from developing innovative and non-predictable strategies, fundamental for the dimension of experience and the support of creativity. There is also an implicit critique in Mellado’s work of the character of these funds as welfare assistance, in the sense that they displace cultural functions traditionally related to the state and transfer them to vulnerable and precarious agents with low possibilities of representation.

15 The comment is related to a Venezuelan economist working at Harvard, Ricardo Hausmann. The quote “Why does Chile not grow? Because it's full of Chileans” was tweeted by Hausmann in order to promote the idea of a migratory and diverse society as a key to economic growth. Cf. “Economista de Harvard desata Polémica: ‘¿Por qué Chile no crece? Porque está lleno de chilenos,’” in Russia Today, Aug. 26, 2016, accessed November 4, 2016, https://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/217151-economista-chile-polemica

Go back