Modernity and the Landscape in Latin America

Aesthetics, Politics, Ecology (Swiss National Fund)

Lic. Dayron Carrillo Morell

Doctoral Researcher
dcarrillo.morell@rom.uzh.ch

Archi-landscape and Telling Architectures in Brazilian, Mexican and Cuban aesthetic modernity.

 

EPSON MFP imageEscuela_nacional_de_artes_plasticas_la_habana_cuba._ricardo_porro._photo_paolo_gasparini

Project Outline

The landscape in twentieth century Latin America and the Caribbean has undergone controversial political, economic and social transformation, which impact last to this day. While  modernization drives associated with the ideal of the progress have put into crisis the paradigmatic link between human and nature, the construction of the modern nation-state has included several attempts to monumentalize landscape-imaginaries through architectural agencies, by uses of local materials and explicit appropriation of site-specific topographic features. Accordingly, making allegorical references to natural, but also cultural-historical landmarks has been widely implemented as a mean for fusing modernity with tradition and national identity.

The outset of this research project is that this narrative has evolved a limited frame for representing and understanding landscape as a “being of reason” to Latin-American modernity that often dismisses the complexities spanning much of modernist architectural adventures in the region.

Accordingly, my aim is to revisit modern landscape as a ‘landscape-in-crisis’; where the representative dimension of monumental architectural creations as projected ideals of progress do not replace the asymmetries of modernization processes undertaken in the continent, but rather coexists with their traumatic and violent experiences of place-making. Working on the premise that modernist architecture exponentially reflects the complexities of landscape’s ethic contribution to Latin American aesthetic modernity, I argue that a critical a revision of modern Latin American landscape will explore architecture as discursive spaces that usually speak for the shortcomings of, and the states of tension with twentieth-century modernizing impulses. This framework problematizes visual strategies for conceiving what I propose as archi-landscape. While including some of the definitions about “organic” and even “landscape architecture”, the term archi-landscape conceptualizes architectural constructions which displaying relation to site-specific landscape-forms becomes not only paradigmatic, but also indexable and self-referential. The general hypothesis thus suggests that archi-landscapes are discursive of the places where they are inscribed, implicitly referring to dialectic relations between the human and nature.

The proposed scope acknowledges that the ideas underlying the interest of modernist Latin-American architects on the landscape has been often noted by scholars. Though, the project seeks for transversal lectures that allow thinking the modern landscape as a polysemic phenomenon, which fictional construction has also generated symptomatic forms of vernacularism, displacement and dépaysement in mid-twentieth century Brazilian, Mexican and Cuban architecture, both at private and public spheres. In so doing, this study examines Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer’s Conjunto Arquitetônico da Pampulha (1942-1944); Luis Barragán’s project of Jardines del Pedregal (1945-1951); and Cuban National Schools of Art (1961-) by Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti.

Igreja São Francisco de Assis (Conjunto arquitetônico da Pampulha,  1940 a 1945), arq. Oscar Niemeyer, Foto: Museu Histórico Abílio Barreto

Igreja São Francisco de Assis (Conjunto arquitetônico da Pampulha, 1940 a 1945), arq. Oscar Niemeyer, Foto: Museu Histórico Abílio Barreto

Casa de la Muestra en Fuentes 140, Jardines del Pedregal, México, DF 1950 Arq. Max Cetto y Luis Barragán, Foto: Armando Salas Portugal

Casa de la Muestra en Fuentes 140, Jardines del Pedregal, México, DF 1950 Arq. Max Cetto y Luis Barragán, Foto: Armando Salas Portugal

Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, 1965, La Habana, arq. Ricardo Porro, Foto: Paolo Gasparini

Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, 1965, La Habana, arq. Ricardo Porro, Foto: Paolo Gasparini

Bio
Dayron Carrillo Morell is a graduate of Art History at the University of Havana and Art History and Hispanic Studies at thse University of Zurich. He has published essays on visual culture and literature among them: “La Habana en obbara-meyi: La imagen de una ciudad en la post-apertura religiosa” in LA Magazine, Bulletin de la Société Suisse des Americanistes and “La autorreflexión en el Soneto I y el Salmo XVIII de Quevedo” in heterodoxies and peripheries: Hispanic poetry in Lower Baroque versants.