Extra Credits: Santiago’s January Festivals

 Daniel Reyes, Len La Vida Privada del Agua
Daniel Reyes, Len La Vida Privada del Agua

January traditionally marks the start of the summer cultural season in Chile so while you may still be feeling bad about the amounts of manjar ingested over the Christmas period or trying to recollect the blurry memories of New Year’s Eve, it is high time to move on. Get rid of your yellow underwear and put on your connoisseur glasses…for culture awaits. On this month in Santiago are two important events bringing theatre, music and visual arts to the streets.

Santiago’s theatre festival Santiago a Mil opened on 3rd January and proposes a rich choice of plays and street performances until 22 January. Established international and national companies headline the festival: the Théâtre du Soleil company is performing in Estacion Mapocho their titanic four hour-long play Los Naufragos de la Loca Esperanza, a philosophical tale of dreams, travels and cinema inspired by a story by Jules Verne.

 Théâtre du Soleil, Les Naufragés du Fol Amour
Théâtre du Soleil, Les Naufragés du Fol Amour

The festival also offers the chance to see Chile’s most important playwright Alejandro Jodorowsky star in his new play called El Gorila adapted from a Kafka short story. However, the festival also provides a stage to emergent artists and street performers who will be performing in the capital’s university theatres, small venues and the street. The festival also collaborates with the GAM to propose a series of musical showcases by important contemporary Chilean musicians such as Chinoy and Francisca Valenzuela.

 Gianfranco Foschino, LOTA (2010)
Gianfranco Foschino, LOTA (2010)

Meanwhile, the Bienal de Video y Artes Mediales (10 BVAM) started on Tuesday 10th and presents a wide range of works throughout seven cultural institutions of the capital including the Museum of Contemporary Arts (MAC), the Museum of Fine Arts (MNBA) and the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM). This year feels particularly special as the Bienal is celebrating its tenth edition. The Bienal was originally created in 1993 as an event that aimed to grant a proper place to the use of new media in the making of art and its director, Néstor Olhagaray, a passionate devotee of new media arts also developed a Master programme in Media Arts at the Universidad de Chile.

In two decades, things have obviously changed in new media and its use in visual arts and this year’s edition takes as a theme the notion of Deus Ex-Media to question the prominent place granted to technological prowess in new media arts. The curator, the Brazilian Paula Perissinotto, selected works emphasising perception and the sensible in order to move on from the fascination of machines that tend to lead to a kind of art-for-technology’s sake approach. Showing works in the Bienal are emerging contemporary Chilean artists such as Gianfranco Foschino and Andrea Gana.


This anniversary edition also offers a retrospective of the past nine editions that should provide an interesting insight into the evolution of new media arts in the country. Moreover, the Bienal pays tribute to Fluxus artist Wold Vostel this year, a pioneer of video art. Electronic music concerts are also being staged in different venues around the city.

So if you thought you could use the first month of the year to retreat to the top of Cerro San Cristobal and set up camp by the piscina Antilén, you may have to postpone until next month, for in January, culture in Santiago will not give you any rest.

Santiago a Mil
3 – 22 January 2012
Different venues in Santiago
Prices vary from free to CL$ 12,000 (US$23.5)

Bienal de Video y Artes Mediales (10 BVAM)
10-22 January 2012
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MAC) de Parque Forestal
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Centro Cultural de España
Cineteca Nacional, Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda
Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM)
Factoría Italia, Av. Italia 850
Most events and screenings are free.

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