Work «Reminiscence» for the city Mad Max

Malicho Vaca Valenzuela, director and interpreter of the show “Reminiscences”, manages to articulate a creative arsenal of audiovisual, digital and iconographic resources to present a life diary, where the theatrical documentary genre congeals like an exemplary jelly.

A person’s biography is integrated into that of the city. Live cameras, Google Earth or digital platforms, everything is used in this work for a viewer involved in a therapeutic artistic exercise.

Remembering is retracing the facts of our existence in the heart, if this exercise is carried out without the corresponding tenderness, it ends up being archived in cold rooms. Vaca Valenzuela proposes a revitalization, relieving the reviled tools from the official discourse.

Google Earth is still not considered an official means of recording individual and community memory, however, the author shows us how this application is able to fulfill this role, even if they are considered ephemeral networks. We are surrounded by cameras and our fingerprint is rigorously monitored every day, which is enough to expose our passage through the city.

In a city like Buenos Aires, where people are born and die in their neighborhoods, with their own soccer teams, and the anecdote of the suburbs is intact, Malicho Vaca’s work was highly praised at the last FIBA. Perhaps they saw the merit of appealing to an ethos, even if the city is Santiago de Chile, whose corners are demolished every six months and sectors abandoned.

The pandemic has forced Vaca to jump from the stage to Zoom, to structure this work which is neither a monologue nor a Ted talk. And already in 2020 it was ranked as one of the best plays of the year, at a time when the theater had to explore the tough possibility of technologically remote acting, a successful experience, as audiences responded with high levels of interactivity.

On the other hand, there has never been so much access to the use and abuse of photography. If the 20th century has replaced painting in favor of photography, now the digital photo and the vanity of selfies have replaced the analogical, obtaining testimonies second by second. It is no longer necessary for a man like the photographer Provoste de Chiloé to leave testimonies, two decades ago every person could capture everything from what is important to what is not.

In the work there are images from many years before the pandemic and the social outbreak, where the former agora of Plaza Italia played the role of the last bulwark for meeting the social classes in a segregated society. The celebrations of the Red Army, the display of fried eggs or a girlfriend at the foot of the statue of Baquedano, give way to the dystopian scenario, inaugurated by Octobrism at the head of generation Z, eager for fire and urban combat.

Many have wanted to romanticize the dark non-poetry installed on the walls of our cities to this day, as it is no match for the black poetry of the mandragoras or the aesthetics of the rebellious youth of the 60s with their murals. In any case, the work gives an important place to that roar of the lion with a thousand stripes and scribbles, anomic and asocial, unable to reach the Nietzschean child.

And it does so, because it will transcend as a historical postcard, to understand the current crisis, so similar to the one experienced by Chile between 1915 and 1932.

On a personal level, Alzheimer’s appears in the work as a similitude of this struggle to avoid the irretrievable loss of this present, which every minute has become the past.

It is of little use to treasure, because life is a loss and this neurodegenerative disease is the most feared in the list of diseases. He leaves the person in an eternal present, while his caregivers experience the torture of evocation.

Remembering Europe is easy, most cities do not suffer devastating earthquakes and development safeguards heritage, with an educational level that invites the new generations to experience their epic in the same scenario as their grandparents, without considering it a goal to throw away below

In Santiago de Chile, little remains of the capital of the saltpeter era or of radical governments or the 1962 World Cup, it is a city spread like a wildfire during the dictatorship, where Generation Z went out, pickaxe in hand, to demolish museums, churches and libraries under the applause of parents. The exercise of memory on a ruined moral battlefield becomes difficult and painful.

We are destined to walk under the permanent law of loss and deterioration. Dolina says that after 40, life is about taking things away from us. Despite these axioms and if we accept that we are part of an expanding universe, we will be able to enjoy the memory exercise that the work Reminiscences offers us, with a new season at the GAM Centre.

Perhaps the inhabitants have not yet been born “And Santiago de Chile is a desert / we believe we are a country and the truth is that we are just a landscape”, said Nicanor Parra.

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  • The content expressed in this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of The meter.

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