The art festival which transforms the face of Santiago: Hecho en Casa 2013

As far as blending art with the urban environment goes, few projects can compare with Hecho en Casa (Made at Home), a series of artistic and sculptural interventions across Santiago which runs from 29th November until 8th December. Following the success of last year’s inaugural festival, Hecho en Casa 2013 will be spread across a larger swathe of the capital, with events and installations taking place in nine city municipalities. The impressive roll-call of Chilean and international artists contributing to the festival includes some of the best-known names in the global street art and visual arts movements.

Hecho en Casa 2012 (photo courtesy of Hecho en Casa)
Hecho en Casa 2012 (photo courtesy of Hecho en Casa)

The concept behind Hecho en Casa is to reinterpret urban spaces creatively and transform the daily monotony of the city landscape through incorporating buildings, bridges and streets into the projects which adorn them. By making the transformation of such spaces the festival’s fundamental characteristic, Hecho en Casa actively promotes public interaction with art: rather than artworks that can be simply transported from place to place, the projects here are specifically designed for the physical space they inhabit and are thus unique to Santiago. Furthermore, they depend upon artists observing Santiago as a city in itself instead of developing ideas for generic urban locations.

Italian artist Blu
Italian artist Blu

Due to the accessible spectacle of Hecho en Casa, much of the festival’s content occurs in highly visible locations where large-scale artworks are staged to maximise the potential of their surroundings. One such artist who exploits wide urban spaces is Blu, whose distinctive comic style has adorned walls across the world, from his origins in Bologna in Italy to his satirical artwork in the Middle East which covered a vast section of the wall separating Israel from the West Bank. Blu’s socio-political commentary has also been seen in towering installations made from guns in Brazil, highlighting gang violence, and bananas in Nicaragua, designed to draw attention to the rights of low-paid plantation workers.

Chilean artist Inti
Chilean artist Inti

Another much-anticipated participant in the festival is Chilean street artist Inti, based in Europe but whose artwork brims with South American indigenous imagery. Named after the Inca Sun God, Inti’s multi-storey pieces are spectral giants representing distinct figures from South American tradition, while the artist blends pre-Columbian symbols and designs with contemporary graffiti culture. With central Santiago a concrete mass of sterile tower blocks, there is no shortage of walls which wouldn’t benefit massively from Inti’s intervention.

The English artist Filthy Luker will also be taking part in the festival. Filthy’s signature installation sees enormous green tentacles emerging from the windows of city centre buildings (who wouldn’t love to see that at the top of the Costanera Center?), while other work maintains a garish cartoon quality evident in huge eyeballs boggling at passersby from trees, or unexploded bombs (of the Loony Tunes rather than Al-Qaeda variety) protruding from the roofs of city landmarks. Filthy Luker will be exhibiting at the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM) throughout the festival’s duration.

English artist Filthy Luker
English artist Filthy Luker

There will also be a number of local art collectives contributing to the event. Grupo Toma incorporates artistic and urban features into interactive projects, often constructed from materials found or foraged, and will be stationed in front of the Estación Mapocho. Colectivo Chan, a group of artists seeking to develop links between community and artistic space, will create a permanent exhibit in the Parque la Castrina in San Joaquin. Parking Day, meanwhile, convokes several artists as the 6th December sees Santiago’s car parks undergoing a state of reclamation as they are transformed into green spaces, beaches, picnic zones and fiestas. There will be hosts of other projects taking place around the city, full details of which can be found on the Hecho en Casa website (see below).

Hecho en Casa 2013
Hecho en Casa 2013

Besides the many artistic interventions, there is an international documentary section focusing on films related to the visual arts. Featured films include the seminal 1983 documentary Style Wars, about New York’s then-nascent hip hop and graffiti scene; Julien Temple’s look at urban agriculture in Requiem for Detroit, showing in Chile for the first time (officially, that is); the Argentinean film Oscar, el Taxista, about a taxi driver who artistically alters the urban environment through which he scrapes a living shuttling passengers around; and Roadsworth: Crossing the Line, a look at the Canadian art collective who are also participating in the festival proper. These films and others are screening at Centro Arte Alameda and offer free admission (further evidence of the festival’s moral stance on accessibility).

As festivals go, this looks like being a cracker, and it’ll be a lot of fun to see normally-congested parts of Santiago given over to the realisation of art projects which remind us of the potential for reimagining shared spaces. The capital’s broad layout and heaving urbanity ought to provide a stirring platform for Hecho en Casa’s artistic expression. It might be a jungle sometimes, but it’s one we can always improve for the benefit of everybody.

Full details of what’s on and where it’s on are available on the Hecho en Casa website.

Hecho en Casa
Friday 29th Nov – Sunday 8th Dec
Various locations
www.hechoencasa.cl

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