memory park – ‘to create memory is to construct the future’

September 9, 2013

to human rights ferrari

Parque de la Memoria ( Memory Park) is unique in symbolism and unique among the eclectic mix of parks and green spaces in Buenos Aires. Carlos Thays planned most of the 19 – 20 C parks during the initial growth of this city as the capital of a large country facing industrialisation. In recent years, more contemporary open spaces have been slotted into post industrial developments such as Puerto Madero, along the Plata underlining the growth in the economy and changes in social requirements. Many of the new parks and urban spaces integrate abstract sculptures – this park has eight visually powerful pieces conceived and created within a broad collective theme of  Human Rights. This is not only a park but also a monument to the tens of thousands of Argentines that disappeared during the military dictatorships that spanned 14 years. It’s fitting that the site chosen is by the river believed to be the final resting place of many of the disappeared and also that it is adjacent to the University that many victims were associated with.

entrance

The main access is uncompromising in its bleakness  – an immediate wake up call to the rationale behind the design – but transforms itself well into a user friendly open classroom when the young inhabit the park . . . .

monument to escape  oppenheim 2

monument to escape oppenheim

light line

. .  distant horizons are incorporated into the linear framework. The river is wide here but the sense of the opposite shore, Uruguay, is strong although too distant visually –  the seen and the unseen. The personal memorial to those ‘lost’ is a series of concrete walls that vary in angle, height and length and define spaces that are sharply angled and sloping.  The names of those that disappeared during the dictatorships are carved into bricks attached to the walls making a textured surface that contributes to a sense of discomfort, tension and sadness – all suitable.

wall 1

wall education

wall 2

The planting is chosen to underscore the symbolism as well as compliment the architectural feel of the park. A bosque of red budded Erythrina crista-galli, the national tree, and well able to cope with the harsh river side conditions plus the lack of management, stand in a asymmetrical group.

the square

bosque of erythrina crista-galli  (ceibos)

ceiba speciosa

Areas of grass are left long perhaps to discourage active play – a creeping geranium tinged the sward with a flush of pink similar in tone to the spectacular flowers on the Ceiba speciosa  . . . . .

geranium sanguineum meadow

memory signs  grupo de arte callejero

. . .  one installation that demands attention is the arc of 53 signs. Traffic signs that have become a visual language here display  information as though on a route through Argentina’s recent history of state terrorism (Grupo de Arte Callejero). . . .

sign 1

sign 2

sign 3

sign 4

. . . and the dreaded Ford Falcon.

pier to east

The park spreads out into the river in a wide arc enabling immediate connection with the water as well as opportunities to gaze, rest and reflect.

rio de la plata

Pablo Miguez disappeared at the age of 14. This sculpture by Claudia Fontes was conceived specifically for this siting in the Rio de la Plata. If Pablo had survived he would be the same age today as the sculptor.

reconstruction of the portrait of Pablo Miguez  fontes

Libre de la memoria y de la esperanza,
ilimitado, abstracto, casi futuro,
el muerto no es un muerto:  es la muerte.
Como el Díos de los místicos
de Quien deben negarse todos los predicados,
el muerto ubicuamente ajeno
no es sino la perdición y ausencia del mundo.
Todo se lo robamos,
no le dejamos ni un color ni una sílaba:
aquí está el patio que ya no comparten sus ojos,
allí la acera donde acechó su esperanza.
Aun lo que pensamos
podría estar pensándolo él;

nos hemos repartido como ladrones

el caudal de las noches y de los días.

Free of memory and of hope,
limitless, abstract, almost future,
the dead man is not a dead man: he is death.
Like the God of the mystics,
of Whom anything that could be said must be denied,
the dead one, alien everywhere,
is but the ruin and absence of the world.
We rob him of everything,
we leave him not so much as a color or syllable:
here, the courtyard which his eyes no longer see,
there, the sidewalk where his hope lay in wait.
Even what we are thinking,
he could be thinking;

we have divvied up like thieves

the booty of nights and days.

Jorge Luis Borges Remordimiento Por Cualquier Muerte

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