Tuesday, 31 May 2011

We paint the Museum of the Nation

[On the painting of Lima's Museo de la Nación]

We are responsible for the refurbishment of the Continental Bank Building. We chose to cover the Civic Centre with aluminum plates imitating the colour of the original casted concrete. We allowed the renovations of the Ricardo Palma Clinic. We are going to demolish the ex San José de Cluny School.

You, me, each and every one of the members of the College for Architects, each member of the union and every student and teacher at the schools of architecture. We are the responsible, the only responsible.
And we are not responsible because we could not stop it; nor because our small and useless cries for protest, which does seem to reach nowhere. We are responsible of the initial cause of all these interventions: we are responsible for the anonymity of our Peruvian architecture.

Because, let’s be honest, outside particular academic spheres and outside our own groups, who would know what was the architectonic importance of the Museum of the Nation (Ministry of Fisheries)? Did anybody ever hear the word ‘brutalism’? Did anybody even care?

No. And it is pointless to blame “the ignorance of the people” in such absurdly generic terms.

It is our fault.

Is the fault of those who do have the answers to those questions but do not bother to share them with our community. And the community does not care anyway, because the gap existing between them and us (starting from the fact of expressing ourselves in terms of “them” and “us”) is too broad. We architects have never cared about reaching to people. We are the demiurge, the creator, the inventor, the creative. Never the link, the connection, the dialogue, the professional serving.

If the architect have never cared about accompanying the citizen in discovering its own city, if he or she had never listened, if, instead of a dialogue he or she has chosen the monologue, then that architect has no right to complain, if that very citizen, ignored (and thus ignorant), decides to act upon something which meaning we have never bothered to explain.

If we have not have interest in sharing what we do, in “diffuse” (if we want to use a fashionable term) what architecture is about and when it is good, if we impose our ideas without bothering to explain and we collide with differences, it is only our fault.

It is, fellow architects, out fault. We are painting the Museum of the Nation. And it is turning out ugly.

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