Quito, EcuadorOctober 21, 2014
In your city, how can we tell that we are in the year 2014?
Cheap gasoline… at least everyone has a car.
What in your city reminds you of the past?
Perhaps, the districts downtown. The small stores, the churches, lime walls and stone edifices.
Which building or intersection in the city would make us think that we are in the future?
"Base Decepticon", better known as the brand-new UNASUR headquarters (Union of South American Nations). It is a giant, shiny, black edifice, built 14 km north of the city, near the commemorative monument of Mitad del Mundo built in 1982, in the dusty zone of San Antonio de Pichincha.
Where in your city would be the best place to lose track of time, freeze time, or gain time?
You could lose track of time in the sidewalks of Mercado San Roque, and find yourself surrounded by sounds and all kinds of stuff: home remedies, appliances, fresh fish, trucks, goats, fruits and vegetables, and a huge variety of hand-made furniture. Today, this market is one of the biggest distributors in the city and one of the last areas of social-labor organization and resistance to the process of gentrification in colonial downtown.
What song or local band would you recommend for an everyday playlist?
Mancero Trio, a "post-colonial" proposal; it joins some local sounds such as albazo, yaravís, san juanitos, even pasillo, with a contemporary approach, in a jazzy way. A brilliant meeting. (www.mancerotrio.com)
In which bookstore can you find new or second-hand publications on art history, exhibition catalogs, or artist monographs?
I recently discovered Biblos Mauricio, a unique and labyrinthine secondhand bookstore located in the lower part of some building towers (Orellana y 12 de Octubre). Mauricio Ponce–the bookstore’s owner–can find everything for you in the book store, from a rare artist’s essay, to an old oil painting.
What dish most embodies your city, and where would you find it?
I highly recommend "cevichocho", at La Carolina´s Park. A very popular highland street food, that pairs acid-salt flavours, combining lupini beans (called “chochos”), fried bananas, tomatoes, sliced red onions and ketchup, all cooked up in lemon juice. An after school classic!
What is a monument that reveals a hidden past?
Monumento a los Héroes Ignotos (Monument to the Unknown Heroes) 1922, by the great Swiss Italian architect Francisco Durini, shows a black Andean condor on top of ‘24 de Mayo’ square. It was built originally as a memorial to celebrate the independence centenary. Now there is a copy of it. It reminds me of ‘ojos de águila’, Quito´s monitoring video system, and their excessive over-control of public space in the boulevard. Paradoxically, the monument has lost its data plate.
Outdoor or public artwork worth visiting:
Surely the most inexplicable is the city’s illuminated coat of arms at Parque El Ejido. For me, this structure is an amazing synthesis of the city's former slogan: "Quito Luz de América" and the clash between modernity and colonial values that can be found all over the city.
Next Sunday, let’s meet at:
Guápulo view point. Let’s drink some beers.
Which book transports me to your city?
I really love Blomberg Quiteño (Archivo Blomberg, 2010), a city portrait by Swedish photographer Rolf Blomberg. It’s an extraordinary compilation of his work and his life in the city.
What aspect of your city most inspires you?
Its unique light.
Where would one probably get lost: geographically, emotionally or historically speaking?
The great Ruku Pichincha (elevation 15,700 ft.) It is an active volcano that can be seen as a silent witness of the changes in the city. Living near this giant is a nice and overwhelming experience.
If you were to be commissioned today to create an artwork “about” this city, briefly describe your proposal.
I am very interested in the recent history of hydrocarbons in Ecuador as well as in the city itself. The relationship of progress and capital has been a clear milestone in the development of the urban landscape. For example, we can see the "Terminal of Clean Products - El Beaterio". It is the principal fuel distribution and storage facility in the capital, running since 1950 in the middle of south-eastern area of urban Quito; currently it is surrounded by 14 districts. I would like to document the neighborhood’s historical struggles and the configuration of labor relations in the zone.