The Open City, Ritoque, Chile - November 2014

‘Cifra’, meaning 'figure' or 'code', is an eight hour performance resulting in an installation constructed from 500 metres of yellow vinyl rope. The work is sited in the remains of the Casa de los Nombres (House of Names) at the legendary Ciudad Abierta (Open City): a radical pedagogical experiment and utopian community on the west coast of Chile founded by the Argentinian poet Godofredo Iommi and the Chilean architect Alfredo Cruz in 1969. 

The original Casa de los Nombres was constructed on the shifting sands of the Ritoque Dunes. Designed and built over the course of two years, it was intended to serve as an exhibition space and place of congregation for 400 people to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Open City. Following the event of the anniversary, however, the building was abandoned as the movement of the dunes ran counter to the anticipated sand movement vectors. The building’s foundational grid of twenty-nine concrete pillars, originally 20m high, are now buried by the ongoing movement of the Ritoque sands. These pillars served as the architectural foundation for ‘Cifra’.

Through ‘Cifra’ we construct a transient memorial figure for the Casa de los Nombres while using the experience of working on-site as a method of studying Open City, its principles and practices. True to Open City’s ethos, our architectural-scale construction was instigated through the poetic word. The following line of poetry, randomly selected from Amereida, founding text of Open City, initiated the work: A causa del gran circulo.

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