In 2014, Ronald Kay, critic and researcher of art published “Lorenzo Berg: Un Origen” a book that narrates histories behind the Pedro Aguirre Cerda’s monument elaborated by Lorenzo Berg. The work, located in Santiago’s Almagro Park, it was never finished, despite being considerate the first precedent of the Land Art globally. Today, Lorenzo Berg junior, architect and teacher of the Universidad de Chile refers to his goal, finish his father’s work in spite of the abandon that has been experimented since decades ago.
How a monument makes use of the public space?
It depends the historical context, urban context and interest of art too. Normally, monuments in public spaces of Chile have been figurative, that is, it tried to represent the person. It was the figure of the person what was represent accurately in the sculpture. This work broke with the scheme and more than the physical appearance of Pedro Aguirre Cerda, what it looks for was the historical and intellectual figure about what did his government. It was the first work in Chile that was elaborated without referring to the character, but to his legacy. Other particular thing is that the central zone of the avenue was conceived as the civic center, as the street where was going to be all the main buildings that represents to the State of Chile. In the south side, the other side of La Moneda was going to be the Congress. So, this represented the executive power and on the other ends the legislative power. And this work, what it did, was to be the threshold of the legislative power.
“It was the first work in Chile, which was elaborated without referring to the character, but to his legacy”
What the original idea of the Pedro Aguirre Cerda’s monument is?
When was the earthquake of 1960, mi father was in Italy. He was away from us, his wife, his sons, incommunicado. This situation remained him the earthquake of 1930, when he lived in Chillán, close to the sea. His father was not with him during the disaster, what generates a lot of anxiety. The instability, the anguish generated by the earthquake and the isolation were the main factors that boosted him to develop the idea of the monument. Through its, re ordered the Chile’s geography. He installed this big mountain rocks and stabilized it; he puts the water as if was the sea that goes around the earth. His intention was to order the chaos, organizing in Chile its crazy geography.
How the role of the spectator is conceived to the work?
The orientation that it has is difficult to explain. Although, oneself see a Pedro Aguirre Cerda’s sculpture, it was not part of of the original work, but it was made by other sculptor later. The original sculpture has seven large monoliths of stone that represents the seven works of Pedro Aguirre Cerda and they are put in the water in order to recall the Chile’s geography. What my father did was to attract mountain pieces in granite block and integrate them to the urban and public space through this mirror. Although, is contemplative is a ludic space too that has the great mirror of water; is a relaxation place located in a park. After this, a competition was made to the improvement of Almagro Park. It was the central axis, focal of the North-South axis of the city, between La Moneda and the Congress, and the other East-West axis that is Santa Isabel Park. At the meeting point of these two civic axis is the sculpture as part of a commemorative and recreational space of relaxation, culture and symbolic of Santiago.
If the government affirms that the work is finished, why it is stated that it is not ready?
Although, my father had won an international competition with this project, approved by the commission, decree of the congress and all, during the development of the work the commission changed its opinion. They wanted my father put in the center, instead of a flame, which was the first sculpture in cooper made in Chile, an abstract sculpture with the Pedro Aguirre Cerda’s figure, a kind of a gigantic bust. What my father disagreed, because it was not related to the work spirit. Finally, they cut the contract of my father and he could not finish the work and it was not concluded. In that moment was being made works for the mirror of water which neither was not concluded. From that epoch this has been abandoned; But suddenly makes it maintenance.
Finally, government kicked off your father from the director of the monument and included other sculptor. Which is the risk that a third person re-interprets the work?
The artist is an interpreter of his epoch. It is very complex when a work is made by imposition. Normally, the artistic work is an individual work. The architecture, which function is utilitarian, has a use and therefore is submitted to the proper demands of people. But an artwork can be a work that invades and wants to be controversial, and maybe there is its value. The state has to notice that.
How do you see the Land Art discipline in what your father was a pioneer?
Ronald Kay, critic, researcher and poet, he does this recognition. He placed it as a first work of Land Art, which was born in 60’s. With this work, my father anticipated artist as Michael Heizer and other later ones. It was an impact for us. My father in certain way recognized trends, more than in art in the public sculpture made by the artists. If someone inspects things in Chile, it seems the Easter sculpture; for example, it has a way to impose to the landscape. It has seems the same in the Mapuche’s rewe organized in a circle during the Gillatún parties. Since childhood, my father has a relation with the province. He was interested on the diffusion of craftwork of popular art. Probably that, influenced to do a work related to the geography, with the particularity that Land art does, which is to attract the geography to the city. That is unique.
What are the futures plans regarding the monument?
Years ago, I was called from the Santiago’s municipality in order to recover this work. They always have expressed interest, but the. Do not have funds. Since two years ago, the art critic and researcher, Ronald Kay, was interested to make a publication of this work and published a book with the support of National Monuments Council, the last year we applied to a project of FondArt that was adjudicated with low amount in order to finish the designs. We did that and now we are in the adjustment process to achieve the amounts of financing, which probably will come from private companies instead of the State. The goal is to materialize and finish the work as it was originally made.
In specific terms, we are doing studies of the sculpture of the flame: a gigantic copper metallic element with twelve meters of height. It was essential part of the original designed. Now, we sent the project to some metal armories in order to do the first estimate and to measure the total cost. Probably, it shall be carried out, but in phases, it will be very difficult to do at one time. In addition, we have to do the reparation of the mirror of water and planning the systems of pump. One says that in simple words, but from the technique point of view is complex.
Pictures of the original project