Day 22 :: Into the First World

Views of :: the southwestern Bolivian highlands, between La Paz and Arica; northern Chile, between Arica and Antofagasta; central Chile between Antofagasta and Santiago; the Memory Museum in Santiago.

Last night I met up with MARSH and SERES in the western part of La Paz and they took to me to an abandoned building where they often just practice their technique – somewhere low key and not too high-profile for an out of towner. The orange tint of a polluted sky was the only means to seeing eachother, let alone what it is we were tagging, but the mixture of anxiety and concentration, adrenaline and toxic-fume-inhalation brought me back to younger times. I couldn’t help but think while we branded the forgotten concrete corpse of my own introduction to and fascination with architecture, through this very medium. Architecture and the relentless graphics that these urban artists try to hide it with are not so different at their core. We covered one wall before I had to call it quits – the next day, I was quite sure, would be another filled with puzzled customs officials, lunch in neatly organized plastic trays, and the feeling of loss and bewilderment at the feet of a new city, in a new country, with a new currency in hand.

Sure enough upon entering Chile via the tiny, desert airport in Arica, I was emotionally man handled by the likes of the PDI (the Chilean border patrol). Between transfers I was the only one stopped and asked to remove everything from my bags; to their amazement, all I had were rolls of clothes, cigarettes, books and drawing supplies. I almost uttered, “9/11 was a long time ago, Amigos,” but instead smiled and displayed my underwear for their amusement. (In reality, I couldn’t blame the guy – My US passport is completely full of stamps, with two French residence/student VISAS, 4 other VISAS, it was issued in Chicago, my current address is in NY, it says I was born in Iran, and will be Chile for just over 100 hours.) 8 hours and two-transfers later I arrived in Santiago.

I couldn’t help but feel like I was re-entering the first world; Santiago is a marvelous city, from what limited experience of it I have. I sat in the patio and researched what the city had to offer, emailed my contacts in the city and roughly tried to figure out my next few days. I asked the owner of the hostel if he knew of the recently completed Memory Museum and he gave me crude directions. I will return to get better pictures come tomorrow, after a brief meeting with Benjamin Oportot of 57 Studio.

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