Lima, PeruJuly 2, 2015
In your city, how can we tell that it’s 2015?
On some avenues, there are LED signs that say the date. It’s a pity: I miss neon.
What reminds you of the past in your city?
Tacna Avenue on the west side of the Historic Center of the city. It’s an avenue that was expanded during the 1940s and it quickly became the epicenter for local modernist fantasies. The avenue filled up with movie theaters, galleries, and the tallest apartment and office buildings in the city. In the 1950s, it was the avenue of the 20th century; now most of the buildings are empty or abandoned, a bit like the promises of modernity that they conveyed.
What building or intersection in the city would make us think we’re in the future?
Some of the pre-Hispanic ruins that one finds suddenly in certain corners of the city. There are several close to my house on the hillsides of Morro Solar, in Chorrillos.
Which part of the city would be the best place to lose track of time, stop time, or gain time?
The center of Lima.
What song or local band do you recommend for the daily playlist?
What museum or cultural space is generally omitted from the typical cultural tour but is definitely worth visiting?
The Museo de Arte Italiano. It’s a small pavilion in the Parque de la Exposición, which was donated by the Italian community in the 1920s to celebrate the centennial of independence. The museum has a collection of contemporary Italian art that was acquired back then, but which portrays a completely different narrative than the one we are used to; one that completely ignores the experience of the historic vanguard. That collection is like a wormhole into space-time.
What bookstore has new or secondhand publications on art history, exhibition catalogs, or artist monographs?
The used book fair in Jirón Amazonas.
What is a typical, local meal and where would you have it?
There are so many… Lima is a city that is completely obsessed with food! It’s gastronomic hysteria. The city is filled with traditional and new places where one can enjoy delicious things. They opened a new one in Barranco: “Isolina,” where you can have a tortilla with pig brains and feet.
Where can you find the best coffee or tea?
I really like the garden at La Bodega Verde on Jirón Sucre in Barranco.
What monument reveals a hidden past?
The Plazuela de San Agustín in Lima’s historic center is a place where so many ages cross… In the center, there’s a sculpture by Oteiza in homage to César Vallejo. On one side, there’s the entrance to the San Agustín Church, which is one of the city’s prettiest Baroque façades, and in front there’s a building from the 1950s by Teodoro Cron which reflects, dialogues, with and contradicts the Baroque church. On the temple’s lateral wall, there’s a door with Renaissance decorations, among the few that remain from that time in all the city.
Outdoor or public artwork worth visiting?
In the middle of Arequipa Avenue, in front of Washington Square, there’s a bronze version of the three Graces by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. The sculpture, with a homoerotic and feminist charge unusual in the city’s history, was placed there in the 1920s.
Where is the best place to watch the sunset in your city?
A few days ago I got on the 1 line of the metro (an elevated train that runs through the city from one extreme to the other) at one of the San Juan de Lurigancho stops to return to the south of the city, where I live. It was 6 o’clock and seeing the sunset with the city passing by at high speed was an unforgettable experience.
Next Sunday, let’s meet at:
On Sundays I have lunch at my mother’s house.
Which book transports me to your city?
"Lima la horrible" by Sebastián Salazar Bondy.
What aspect of your city most inspires you?
Its relationship with its past, so full of conflicts.
Where would one probably get lost: geographically, emotionally, or historically speaking?
The Costa Verde. Throughout Lima’s coast, there’s a series of cliffs with small stones and dirt that terminate in the ocean. In the 1960s, a highway was built on the lower part of these cliffs, and slowly, the ocean was filled in and isolated by the debris from demolitions that occurred in the city. It has resulted in a strange space. If you traverse it on foot, you will find the remains of projects that were interrupted in the middle of construction and turned into ruins, or the vestiges of different moments of urban construction and destruction. You can see the remains of the drainpipes and the restrooms that existed in the 1930s (in Barranco, there’s a beach with the metal pilings that held them up, now turned into a mortal trap for distracted swimmers); there are fragments of abandoned stairs covered by vegetation, all along the coast; there are half-constructed pedestrian bridges, and local stores built since the 1980s with doubtful licenses in different states of abandonment; there is rubble from the thousands of construction sites that are no longer in the city, dragged and returned to the sea; there are trash dumps, parks, and pools. There are also areas filled with life: traditional fishermen, surfers, football fields, unconnected pieces of the boardwalk where people run…
If you were commissioned to create a work of art “about” this city, briefly describe what your proposal would be.
I think that most of my work revolves around Lima and its processes.