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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.88 Santiago dic. 2014

http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-69962014000300008 

READINGS

From the passage to the people’s galleries

Wiley Ludeña*(1), Diana Torres**(2)

* Professor, Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería, Lima, Peru.
** Professor, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima, Peru.


Abstract

A kind of capitalist bazaar, the passage is installed in the 19th century as an essential expression of the modern city, now superseded by the mall. However, Latin American neoliberal policies have reinstated its newer versions as a symbol of popular capitalism.

Keywords: Architecture - Peru, urban fabric, commercial architecture, passages, neoliberal city.


 

Or from the criollo liberalism to the neo-liberal city 

While referring to Charles Fourier in Paris and the transfiguration of the passages into an authentic, idyllic phalanstery, Walter Benjamin evokes the country of Jauja, that medieval legend of a happy, self-sustaining country in a permanent state of ecstasy (1982). But the Peruvian Jauja is not completely the mythical Jauja, nor the passages of Lima that colossal human machinery that Fourier’s dream suggested.(1)

In 1924 when the Pasaje Carmen opened (the first passage in Lima) the celebrated Passage des Panoramas, one of the first in Paris, turned 125 while the de L´Opera, the emblematic epicenter for Louis Aragon and the surrealists, was demolished after more than a century of existence. Ten years before this, in 1914, Buenos Aires already had streets with a splendor and size in some cases even more ostentatious than its European cousins such as the luxurious Bom Marché Gallery (1890) or the equally important Güemes Gallery (1913-1915).

Numerous galleries remain from this foundational period in some of the larger capitals in Latin America. Although the majority of them have already disappeared, some others are in the process of demolition, been converted to other uses or still keep its original function. In contrast, in some cities like Lima an explosive, vital and chaotic phenomenon has arisen in the last two decades: the expansion of a chicha(2) version of the 19th century gallery in the format of the popular shopping gallery. Two moments and two contrasting frames of consumer architecture that unfold from the cycles of the same history and economic policy: that of 19th century liberalism and the populist neo-liberalism of the 21st century with their respective expressions in terms of city and architecture.(3)

The galleries are not a Parisian invention. Their precedents as a mode of commerce and building type are found in the oriental bazaar. As said by Walter Benjamin, the gallery, conceived as a temple to merchant capital, is the product of the bowels of the liberal capitalist city of the 19th century(4). In the same what that today, in the godforsaken swarm of the neoliberal city, the commercial galleries represent in many ways that commercial casino without a temple nor city that ceaselessly reproduces the voracity of that savage capitalism translated in aggressive neo-liberalism, skeptical of both the city and any form of citizenship.

If for 19th century liberalism passages recreated a world as a complementary dream of the city with bewitched flaneurs and budding citizens, for neo-liberalism neo-populism the galleries exhaust this world, converting the city into a crumbling sub-product of the consumer imperative. If the liberal city of the 19th century invented the passage and the post-liberal city of the 20th century proposed the civic center, the global command universalized the commercial galleries as a visceral expression of the most ominous and or positive dimensions of which Hernando de Soto calls popular capitalism.

Unlike other large capitals of the continent, Lima is not a city of passages emerged from a ubiquitous echo of the 19th century and the European Belle Époque. But in the inverse sense and in contrast to these cities, the Peruvian capital is probably the most extreme example in Latin America of how the neo-liberal readjustment of the nineties has generated a limitless explosion of commercial galleries and other popular derivations of the old gallery. A paradox that is found in the middle of a single story in terms of architecture and economic policy: to less galleries of yesterday, more popular galleries today. Or expressed in another way: less economic liberalism of yesterday, less galleries and to more populist neo-liberalism, more popular galleries.

The gallery, conceived as that iconic artifact of 19th century capitalism arrived in Peru in the second decade of the 20th century as a symbol of modernity still elusive in the middle of a structurally anti-modern city. Therefore, Lima has been for this dream machine like that farmer of Louis Aragon in Le paysan de Paris (1926), a provincial city that glares at the new; a city that doesn’t invent the galleries itself, but adopts it to marvel and dramatize the experience of another life.

It is this distance and essential uprooting that surrounds the origin and history of the Lima galleries. It marks a history of banal fixation for the new but at the same time produces a social indifference also of sudden modernity and premature obsolesce. An example of this is the Carmen Gallery, the first built gallery in Lima that today survives with precarious stores and kiosks selling postcards and trinkets. In the same way, the Ronald Gallery (1929) built in the port of Callao, an authentic tribute to the best architectural tradition of the European galleries, never truly functioned as such and today is almost a strange ghost that tries to revive from time to time. The same happens with the two modern galleries in Lima: the Boza Gallery (1956) and the Gallos-Mogollón Gallery (1959).

Perhaps in this contradiction and complex architectonic, urban and cultural notation resides the magic of this series of first and only galleries built in the oligarchic and conservative Lima of the 20th century. Each one with a history that does not cease to be equally surrealist like the intensive and colorful daily use that today is housed within a degraded and spooky landscape. But this is a story that began to change dramatically two decades ago with the drastic neo-liberal and neo-populist readjustment promoted by the government of Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000). Although before Fujimori a kind of invasion would be produced of streets and market grounds in the center of Lima in its most miserable and precarious expression, at the end of the nineties an authentic explosion and seedy refinement would occur from which in Peru are called the popular commercial galleries.

This phenomenon is the expression of the new cycle of economic expansion that Peru experiences after the structural readjustment and the subsequent return to primary forms of savage capitalism. Here are the dozens of new commercial galleries erected in the last few years in the most well known commercial neighborhoods in Lima: the central market zone and the Gamarra, the Malvinas and Abancay Avenue commercial neighborhoods and more. The commercial galleries today are the galleries of yesterday. The recreate the typological fundamentals of the bazaar and the 19th century gallery, but they are no more than a sacred temple of mercantile capitalism. They are the new shrill and soporific commercial casinos designed at the same time by the late global capitalism and the consensus of Washington for the peripheral countries and the thousands of poor consumers..


The passages of the criollo liberalism

The first Lima gallery, the Carmen Gallery, opened its doors in 1924 during the first centennial independence celebrations and the Ayachucho battle day. The event formed part of the national holidays activities. The Ronald Gallery, the second in the decade, opened in 1929 almost in the aftermath of the Augusto B. Leguía government (1919-1930), self-proclaimed as the government of the New Country.

How is it possible that a building of consummate Beaux Arts orthodoxy like the Carmen Gallery come out of a Lima that aspired to leave behind any sign of 19th century architecture and conservative historical eclecticism in that time? And second, how can is be understood that a building like the Ronald Gallery was built as a futurist enclave when the prosperity of Leguia was a thing of the past and nothing justified such excess?

In reality, the galleries were in the urban imagination of some Limeños illustrated with an experience of European live during the last quarter of the 19th century. That the first case has been built almost half a century later is fundamentally due to two factors: the period of economic depression that the Pacific War (1879-1883) produced and the absence of structural transformations in the city. Those projects would recently begin to be produced at the beginning of the 20th century upon resuming the Haussmann-inspired modernizing project of restructuring Lima by José Balta, Nicolás de Piérola and Luis Sada between 1868 and 1872.

Unlike the European experience in which the galleries preceded the large department stores, in Lima the opposite occurred. This fact would decisively influence the destiny of the galleries and their weak institutionalization such as their eventual commercial economic failure. In 1917, when the German immigrant, Augusto Fernando Oechsle opened the first modern department store along the Plaza Mayor, the galleries of the future had an uncertain future. The first victim: the Carmen Gallery located less than 200 m from the Casa Oechsle.

In a society with an impoverished middle class and a conservative, closed and distant oligarchy full of huachafos and huachafitas(5), as noted by David S. Parker, the public or semi public spaces like cafes, restaurants and galleries never achieved a degree of empathy and social legitimacy with high society. The spaces privileged by the elite made up a self-referential world of clubs or closed businesses similarly to the Casa Oechsle, protected from the social infiltrators (Parker, 1998)..


The Carmen Gallery and the late evocation of the aristocratic republic

The Carmen Gallery makes up one of the singular components of a group of three structured buildings of the Casa de Correos y Telégrafos (1897). It is found in the middle of a block located in a strategic zone in the center of Lima: next to the Government Palace and close to a corner of the Plaza Mayor. The gallery, 115 m long and 6 m wide, links the streets Camaná and La Unión (fig. 1). It was designed by the architect Raúl María Pereira, and was built in 1924.

Fig. 1 to 6. El Carmen Gallery, Historical center of Lima, Perú, 1924.

Fig. 1. Site plan. Published scale 1: 7.500.
Survey: Diana Torres Obregón.

The gallery, in order of appearance is the third building in the group, was conceived as an integrated component with the academic architecture of Emilio Parzo and Máximo Doig, responsible for the design of the Casa de Correos y Telégrafos, considered one of the best examples of Beaux Arts architecture in Lima. With the intention of radiating a manifest monumentality with the front entrances, the architecture of the Carmen gallery, in its two plans, collects a compositional coherence to the typological fundamentals of a tradition perfectly decanted for that time (figs. 2 y 4).

A barrel vault with a glass roof covers the central corridor. This vault is converted into a structure of edges and particular structural development to cover the central patio, giving it a visible monumentality(6). The steel structure of the roof marks the rhythm of a structural sequence composed from the basement of the galleries (figs. 3, 5 and 6). As characterized by José García Bryce, "the gallery architecture is structured around the neo-renaissance repertoire of the interior facades of the gallery and the baroque notation of the corbels, balustrades, column orders and pilasters" (García Bryce, 1967, p. 180). The entrances on both sides are indisputable representation elements of the gallery. Those are composed of an elaborate display of neo-classical, historical components endowed with a monumentality of a certain baroque drama. The doorways make sacred a space that is profane by nature.

Fig. 2 to 4. Photography: Wiley Ludeña Urquizo.

Fig. 5. General plan. Published scale 1: 1.000.
Survey: Diana Torres Obregón.

Fig. 6. Long section. Published scale 1: 1.000.
Survey: Diana Torres Obregónn.

The Carmen Gallery is not converted into a mythical meeting place or a symbol of a commercial or cultural time in the history of Lima. It functioned basically as an annex to the activities of the postal world. However, it also had commerce, restaurants or shops that at its best time –that of the Leguía period and the years after it– received part of the Lima elite and much more of the governmental bureaucracy.


The Ronald Gallery or the lost dream of the new country

Construction began on the Ronald Gallery in 1923 and was opened in 1929, the same year of the crack of New York and only months before the Leguia government debacle. Maybe this explains its opaque destiny: it never achieved the splendor dreamed of by its owner. The concept and design correspond decidedly to the personal will of Guillermo Ronald, who wanted to reproduce in Callao the format and aesthetic of the more refined arcades he had frequented in Europe. Nicolaus Babinski, Austro-Hungarian architect living in Lima and the British engineer, Bunting, participated in the design and construction (Coello Pohl, 2009; Dávila, 2013).

The building crosses an irregular block, one side of which faces the main church square. The passage, 6 m wide and 55 long, links Constitución and Independencia streets. The lot and building that occupy it are 30 m width (fig. 7). The resulting volume is an enormous artifact of 6 floors whose proportions are superlative in the urban context, which has an average of two floors. Together with the Casa Wiese (1922) and the Gildemeister building (1928), both 6 floors and located in the center of Lima, the Ronald Gallery is another of Lima’s first skyscrapers. It held more than 90 spaces for offices and businesses as well as 12 apartments that housed prominent families from the English colony of the port. On the fifth floor there was a celebrated English bar known as Twin Deck. Its luxurious elevators were the first of Callao.

Along with this, the first floor gallery manifests solemnity and grand spatiality. This is reinforced with the marble floors and stairs, wooden panels, friezes and iconic capitals, medallions and other details designed with the principles of a certain neo-classicism evoked in a modern key. The double-height commercial corridor has a glass ceiling. Here the overhead lighting acquires an effect due to the elaborately artistic glass (fig. 8). In the Ronald Gallery the idea of the gallery building is made evident from the exterior. The building is the gallery and this in its interior structure expresses the will of the building as architecture and as a world of multiple activities. That is, a building city. Lifting its face to the Callao port, the building is transformed not only into a landmark but a kind of mercantile lighthouse that dominated the profile of the port and marks its morphological configuration (figs. 9 and 10).

Fig. 7 to 10. Ronald Gallery, Historical center of Lima, Perú, 1929.

Fig. 7 and 8. Photography: Wiley Ludeña Urquizo.

Fig. 9. Site plan. Published scale 1: 7.500.
Survey: Diana Torres Obregón.

Fig. 10. Main elevation. Published scale 1: 500.
Survey: Diana Torres Obregón.

It his best and short time, the Ronald Gallery was the epicenter of the most modern and European of the Callao port. It was the meeting place of businessmen and sea officers and numerous European families that lived in La Punta neighborhood or in the apartments of the upper floors. With time the offices began to be occupied by different administrative, sports or maritime institutions and many spaces began to be left vacant. And so the building became a contemporary ruin.

If the Carmen gallery represents the evocation of a discreet but consistent proposal of the Beaux Arts tradition, the Ronald gallery is presented as an emphatic manifestation of modernity, and consciousness to invent a new urban territory. However, in both cases the imitation of forms and styles became an illusory shortcut that veiled the distance between the international cities and the under-developed periphery, between the authenticity of the modern and the rhetorical provincialism, between critical universality and conservative cosmopolitanism.


Modernity, and the dispensable gallery

The Pilot Plan of 1949, inspired by the Le Corbusier’s Plan Voisin and the mandates of the ciam, proposed destroying the historic center to invent an overwhelming landscape of a new modern Lima(7). Paradoxically, the central Plaza San Martín, opened in 1921, had been converted in the epicenter of modern culture in Lima. Surrounded by bookshops, cafes, shops, the first cinemas and all the paraphernalia of technological and visual modernity, the plaza designed by Manuel Piqueras Cotolí was a reference for Mario Vargas Llosa, José María Arguedas, Celia and Alicia Bustamante, Sebastián Salazar Bondy, Sérvulo Gutiérrez, Blanca Varela, Luis Miró Quesada and so many other exponents of modern avant-garde in Lima. This is the moment in which the two main galleries of modern Lima were opened: Boza Gallery (1956) and Gallos-Mogollón Gallery (1959).

In 1956, half a block away from the Plaza San Martín, they opened what in that moment was called the most luxurious and modern gallery of Lima: the Boza Gallery, whose owner was the engineer, Héctor Boza, vice president of the military government of General Manuel Odría (fig. 11). Without a doubt, it deals with a typical central corridor gallery that, with its 115 m of length and 28 m of width, united the 8th block of La Unión crosswise, the most important commercial street of the time (fig. 12 and 13). According to the kinds of galleries identified by Johann Geist, Boza gallery is structured spatially around a "central recto-perpendicular corridor with two entrances" (1989, p. 14). Upon opening the gallery was immediately filled with luxury stores, trans-national offices of cinema, bookshops, restaurants and cafes that in no time became noted such as the Café Galería and the Café Dominó. The latter became one of the favorite meeting places of a sector of cultural and artistic avant-garde of Lima in the fifties and sixties. Today, the gallery is almost vacant, trying to survive with dingy shops and precarious business. The two historical cafes have disappeared and the architecture has begun to lose its original attributes.

Fig. 11 to 13. Boza Gallery, Historical center of Lima, Perú, 1956.

Fig. 11. First floor plan. Published scale 1: 1.000.
Survey: Diana Torres Obregón.

Fig. 12 and 13. Photography: Wiley Ludeña Urquizo.

With an increased appearance of modern architecture, aspirations of luxury and close to the Boza Gallery and the celebrated Hotel Crillón, in 1959 another landmark of modern architecture in the city was opened: the Gallos- Mogollón Gallery (fig. 14). The gallery stands on a lot 111 m long, 35 m wide with an irregular outline and is structured as a long double-height space. Meanwhile, a gabled glass roof lights the gallery; it is a simple roof without formal or technical complexity (figs. 15 and 16). All the commercial space is organized around a 10 m wide straight corridor perpendicular to the streets (figs. 17 and 18).

Fig. 14 to 18. Gallos-Mogollón Gallery. Historical center of Lima, Perú, 1959.

Fig. 14 to 16. Photography: Wiley Ludeña Urquizo.

Fig. 17. First floor plan. Published scale 1: 1.000.
Survey: Diana Torres Obregón.

Fig. 18. Long section. Published scale 1: 1.000.
Survey: Diana Torres Obregón.

The Gallos-Mogollón Gallery never became an exclusive commercial and leisure space in the center of modern Lima as its owners hoped. Starting in the seventies, due the economic crisis and downtown Lima social transformations, the expansion of the informality of the commercial activity transformed the gallery, like in other cases, into popular trinket shops.

Story of a crisis foretold: this is the fate of those two galleries impregnated with splendor and premature failure but also of a strange upheaval. On one hand, the traditional clientele for whom they were originally built abandoned the Boza and Gallos-Mogollón galleries. On the other hand, the new social subject that began to occupy the city’s central areas found these spaces to be overly refined and far from their survival conditions. In a certain way, the Boza and Gallos-Mogollón Galleries born at the wrong time or the wrong place while the story of these two galleries summarizes in a literal and metaphorical sense the state of permanent crisis in Lima’s historical quarter, especially during the last three decades of the last century.


Popular capitalism and the commercial gallery. a return to origens?

The gallery of this first decade of the 21st century is called the commercial gallery. The name is not new, but the social subject that produces it, uses it and the system that promotes it. If the Parisian gallery was born as an expression of the new industrial luxury, the popular commercial gallery is the consummate expression of a de-industrialized city where poverty aspires to dilute itself with the stridency of a luxury or props and pale neon lights. They are the best expression of the popular overflow and emerging society that invents or breaks its own rules (Matos Mar, 2012). This emerging city is the city of the neo-liberal, neo-populist readjustment of the nineties whose only rule is an undisguised laissez-faire and laissez- passer. It has become structurally informal and has been transformed into a giant market with galleries at every intersection of the city.

The vast majority of these galleries were born spontaneously. Others were objects of design. They are one floor or two, or ten-story buildings dedicated to commerce and other productive uses or services. In all cases these structures conserve something of their roots: the spooky and self-referential world of the historical passage and the capacity to bewitch, numb and convert consumerism into a religion to transform citizens into consumers without a will of their own.

These galleries sell merchandise, but are at the same time merchandise themselves that mystifies like a hallucinogen that makes life more bearable for the hundreds of pedestrians harassed by a city of crowded streets and spaces devoid of authentic public life. Some examples are the Capón Gallery in Lima’s Chinatown, the Tarpuy Gallery or the Montevideo Gallery to mention a few of the dozens of these constructions built within the last years in the central area of Lima and other areas in the capital. These galleries conserve the profile of spaces structures by an external connecting corridor.

The expansion of commercial activity in the last decade has been characterized as a real estate boom of commercial galleries. The explosive growth of galleries of the popular trading emporium Gamarra is a dramatic example(8). From 40 commercial galleries and six thousand commercial units registered in 1990, it became 70 commercial galleries and 14,000 stores (Agencia Andina, 2011). It is a huge factory or popular market in a space of 40 blocks, saturated with thousands of people selling and buying among the trash and new architecture of strident postmodern aspiration. The first galleries were two to five stories whereas today they have more than ten. A world of its own: buildings mix narrow workshops, sale areas with dozens of cubicles, fast food restaurants, telemetric network noise and the typical color and ambience of deep Peruo (figs. 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26).

Fig. 19 to 26. Gamarra Commercial Gallery, Historical center of Lima, Perú. No data.
Photography: Wiley Ludeña Urquizo.

Along with the new design arcades there is a tradition that has been established as a simple architectural paraphrase of those markets that were made famous during the eighties. The better-known cases were the Polvos Azules and Amazonas markets located in the historical center of Lima(9). The commercial galleries that arose from this operation were converted into a miserable optimization model of the commercial space. It produced examples such as the Centro Lima Gallery, the new Polvos Azules commercial gallery (with the vendors from the market of the same name relocated) Las Malvinas Gallery (with part of the twenty thousand vendors relocated from the streets of the historic center) or the Polvos Rosados Gallery in Surco, among others.

There exists another group of commercial galleries that can be characterized as a medium format mixed constitution and relative formalization from the design itself. They are galleries that register some background like those that were built in La Unión, the Gran Via Gallery and the Via Veneto Gallery among others that began to be built at the beginning of the nineties and were distributed through the main commercial zones of the city. However, the large majority is found located around the old Central Market, Chinatown and the Paruro and Angahuayalas neighborhoods.

From the morphological point of view, the popular galleries record a large variety of types from which they connect parallel or transversal streets to those that possess various entrances and a complex web of external connections. There are also galleries of a straight corridor or with bends or segmented, with a central patio or some kind of convergent space. There are galleries of a fifth type that have multiple entries and of the kind of central corridor with buildings of two or three floors on the sides. In this case, the path is structured around the presence of an interior patio that gives meaning to the whole.

The commercial galleries of today, while conserving the typological reference elements regarding the original galleries have ceased to function as leisurely places to stay. If before the galleries were places of awe from the variety of products and curiosities from all over the world, the popular galleries are a dispensary of cheap Chinese and Indian products with nothing more surprising than their poor quality. There is no mythology behind them besides the deification of the merchandise for the sake of merchandise.


Tensions between commercial for mality and informality

The Capón Gallery is located to the interior of Chinatown, one of the oldest and emblematic areas of the historic center. The origin and success of the Capón Gallery cannot be explained but is part of the extensive recovery plan of urban renovation of the historical center undertaken by the municipal administration since the mid-nineties (figs. 27 y 28).

Fig. 27 to 29. Capón Gallery

Fig. 27. Levantamiento: Diana Torres Obregón. Capón Gallery, site plan. Published scale 1: 7.500.
Survey: Diana Torres Obregón.

Fig. 28. Photography: Diana Torres Obregón.

The gallery is organized in the form of an L occupying the interior of a block with a central bent corridor 148 m long whose width oscillates between 11 and 18 m. There are stores on both sides of the corridor where almost everything is sold, from school supplies to clothing and household goods, oriental spices, incense and Chinese decorations. In the central corridor there is a long patio that functions as a source of light and natural ventilation. On the second floor there are health and beauty services.

Unlike the Capón Gallery that represents a pragmatic, functional and unpretentious architectural system, the Tarpuy gallery expresses the will of a new generation of previously informal venders to propose an architecture that no only responds to the new demands imposed by the formalization of popular commerce but also the historical architecture references of the pre-existing context.

The Tarpuy Gallery stands at the intersection of Andahuaylas street and Nicolás de Piérola Avenue, in the heart of downtown Lima. It is a connection gallery with a central patio where there are two vertical circulation axes. The building has four floors and a semi-basement. The stores are distributed around this patio. The internal gallery is 39 m long and the entrances are approximately 5 m wide. In the gallery, the stores specialize in bulk sales of textiles, shoes and accessories for personal use. The architecture of the gallery is planned as a historical reinterpretation of the old colonial patio-houses of Lima. Here there is a false facade that simulates a level of contextual belonging, above all with the urban surroundings and the architecture of the Santa Catalina church (figs. 29 y 30).

Fig. 29. Capón gallery, first floor plan. Published scale 1: 1.000.
Survey: Diana Torres Obregón.

Fig. 30. Tarpuy Gallery.
Photography: Diana Torres Obregón.

A third group of popular galleries makes up a series of galleries of a kind of field built precariously or provisionally on an undeveloped large site. The majority of these galleries have a single story with a metal roof and prefabricated modules, also metal. The modules of the stores vary between 5 and 8 m² while the pathways vary between 1 and 2.5 m wide. In these warehouse galleries it is not difficult to evoke the mazelike structure of the oriental bazaars. The Montevideo Gallery clearly reflects the characteristics of the warehouse-gallery; located on the intersection of Montevideo Avenue and Andahuaylas street, it occupies an area of 1.700 m² and has 160 stores as well as basic common services such as bathrooms and storage (fig. 31, 32, 33, 34, 35). As it happens with other galleries of the same type, it specializes in clothing, shoes, and personal accessories. Unlike the formal galleries of the first two groups, these constitute the world of imitations of known brands, known euphemistically as alternatives.

Fig. 31. Levantamiento: Diana Torres Obregón. Tarpuy Gallery, first floor plan. Published scale 1: 750.
Survey: Diana Torres Obregón.

Fig. 32. Tarpuy Gallery.
Photography: Diana Torres Obre.

Fig. 33. Montevideo Gallery, general plan. Published scale 1: 750.
Survey: Diana Torres Obregón.

Fig. 34 and 35. Montevideo Gallery.
Photography: Diana Torres Obregón.


Galleries in contraversy. Conclusions.

If the passage is the urban symbol of triumphant capitalism of the 19th century, the popular commercial gallery of the beginnings of the 21st century is the starkest expression of savage capitalism, reedited in countries like Peru, in a neo-liberal and neo-populist key to employ the categories of Kurt Weyland.

The galleries in Lima, those from before and those from now never embodied a Utopian energy nor were the myth of modernity that would prefigure a new urban world. They never were the country of Jauja. On the contrary, in many cases they became a multi-story mortuary adorned with casino lights, like the Mesa Redonda Gallery fire in which more than 300 people lost their lives before New Years in 2002. Utopia backwards.

However given this condition and other similar attributes why do the popular galleries continue their crazy expansion? How can we understand this phenomenon in a city like Lima, which lacks a consistent tradition of galleries? What are the reasons for their social and economic success?

The galleries didn’t emerge in the Peruvian capital because Peru had become a thriving economy of industrial capitalism, but they didn’t failed because they were not. Equally, their current expansion under the popular commercial gallery format does not imply the consummate existence (of absence) of an urban world at a global boiling point.

Currently, the history of galleries of in Lima has been built under the idea of a basic condition. The persistence of an urban fantasy still impregnated with notions and values of consumption linked to the Arab- Italian-Spanish tradition that, with a more parochial than metropolitan experience, converted the modern flâneur into fiction before a real character. In this case, this persistence has a double meaning: on one hand it is the factor delaying the advent of the galleries as it happened in Lima between the first half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century period. On the other hand, in a rigorously reverse sense, it is the cultural figure that validates the neoliberal boom of the popular galleries: an authentic typological tribute to the galleries and bazaar culture reinvented in America.

Except for Spain and its Moorish tradition, the presence of the galleries evoking the oriental bazaar, dazzled the eyes of Benjamin or Aragon as a novelty and a sparkling revolution. However, in a context such as Lima with an extended tradition of trade impregnated with the spirit of the oriental bazaar, the galleries conceived at the beginning of the 20th century could appear as an inexplicable reiteration of the existing. Therefore, in this first stage the galleries are barely revealed as a scene simulated as artificially as the modern lights of a structurally anti-modern city. The bazaar, with its markets and street vendors in a patio or small plaza, was socially and economically imposed to those small galleries built for an elite that would never be.(10)

At a second stage, the current expansion of the popular galleries, the bazaar becomes an unconscious drive that redefines a certain tradition to give social and culturally legitimacy to these new/old spaces of commercial, social and cultural inter-mediation. The bazaar (or gallery) has not died: today it is called a commercial gallery. In this case, unlike the experiences in the north of Europe, it was not the gallery that evoked the bazaar. In Lima, the oriental bazaar ruined and yet at the same time reinvented the gallery: behold the initial withdrawal to the current overwhelming expansion.

Every era builds its own specificity to transform the galleries in qualitatively different experiences. The social subject of the historical European gallery was the flâneur. The social subject of the first Lima galleries was the survivor of a society with neither a social nor economic elite available to build a city. Today, the post-modern galleries of the financial capitalism and the neoliberal globalization in the first world are filled with yuppies or bankers without capacity to repent. The new commercial galleries of Lima are filled to the rhythm of what Peruvian sociology identifies as the de-territorialized new emerging middle class full uncritical, depoliticized and culturally cynical enterprise.

Between the gallery as a pre-existing bazaar, the luxury gallery and the popular commercial gallery there is a common thread, a kind of shared DNA that gives them the origin and meaning of inevitable survival: the merchandise converted into active fetishism, into a mystified object. If the historical galleries are those temples where the industrial capitalism of the 19th century deifies the exchange values and the use of goods, popular galleries are temples in which the emerging popular capitalism is converted into populist religion to produce the same mystifying ritual of merchandise. Here, the reversal of the processes and results does not imply the feathering of Benjamin’s thesis. Quite the contrary, it validates his ideas considering the links between dream and reality and the recognition of the productive and oneiric functions of the passages and commercial galleries.

For Walter Benjamin the passages are the mother of the DADA movement and surrealism (1982), but when the author of Das Passagen-Werk sustains this, he expresses nothing that André Breton and Louis Aragon themselves did not know when, at the end of 1919, they left Montparnasse and Montmartre to hideaway and dream in a cafe in the Passage de L´Opera. In the case of Lima, the strange thing is that the patina of dreams embodied by the galleries does not appear in the initial versions, but in its contemporary popular reinvention. That is, the commercial galleries of Lima today have been transformed in gigantic and variegated techno-Andean-futuristic design ships with consumers subsumed by a logic that blends emerging survival and informality, as surrealist as the kitsch kingdom of the architecture of support. The passage has died. Long live the gallery!.

 

Notes

1. Although descriptive and elemental in its formulation, the definintion of the passage created by the Guía Ilustrada de París (1852) proves accurate: "they are large glass-roofed galleries, encased in marble that cross entire buildings whose owners have joined together for these speculations. Both sides of these galleries, that receive light from above, are lined with elegant shops so that the gallery becomes like a city or even a small world in which the avid shopper will find everything they need" (in Benjamin, 2004, p. 69). Johann Friedrich Geist has systematized the great diversity in these kinds of galleries. From those of a single straight, perpendicular corridor to those organized in a cross in relation to the number of corridors. Or from the gallery corridors to the corridor-plaza galleries or gallery-plaza, passing through the bodies of buildings at an angle, two angles or more, or like galleries of one, two and four entrance/facades, among other kinds (Geist, 1989). Depending on the country, the language and certain traditions, the French term passage has been translated as pasaje, arcade, galerie, galería, passaz and galleria, among others. In the case of Peru, however, the week institutionalization of the passage has produced a ambiguous meaning for the term that is identified more as a building of commercial use, with a kind of narrow pedestrian street and almost exclusively residential use. The text will use the term gallery in its classical commercial sense.

2. Referring to a Andean-urban mixture of any style, function or use.

3. The differences that Kurt Weyland (1997) establishes are accurate between the classical notions of liberalism and populism and those defined as neo-liberalism and neo-populism. Unlike classical liberalism that was applied to create a State, neo-liberalism seeks seeks to undo the state apparatus through the absolutism of the free market laws and the privatization of the entire production system. Unlike the classical populism of the mid-twentieth century that promoted indusrial modernization based itself on the emerging Latin American industrial proletariat, the neo-populism of the 1990’s retains a different program and social reference: a commitment to the policies of the free market and economica transnationalization. It opposes organized forms of civil society and evokes a populist rhetoricto the informal sector and the mass of the poor in extreme situations as its principal social base.
In Weyland’s terms, Fujimori is a typical neo-populist neo-liberal (Weyland, 1997).

4. Regarding the origens of the passage, Geist identifies five kinds of bazar, from the regular bazar-corridor to the kind of labyrinthine bazar-city(Geist, 1989). However, the gallery is constituted as a space of redefinition of a preexiting tradition, embodying its own singular typological notation in its connection with the transformations brought on by industrial capitlaism beginning in the eighteenth century and the corresponding project of modern cities and societies: this is its singularity as a componend and essential magic box of this new world. Expressed in Rolf Tiedemann’s terms, for Walter Benjamin, the galleries must be conceived not only as mediums of production that must acheive a certain function within the industrial capitalist modernity, but as architectonice devices that embody the iconic fantasy of an unconscious collective that is anxious to surpass the limits of history (Benjamin, 1982, p. 14). This is the western gallery converted into a muth of modernity and omnipresent temple of a new religion where merchandise is deified, arcvhitecture is a magic space and eerie landscape to discover ephimeral pleasure.

5. Peruvian expression to describe a person that "pretends to be elegant and refined" (Editor’s note).

6. After the earthquake of 1970, the glass roof was removed for security reasons, giving the gallery architecture a look of being abandoned. The naked roof has been a symbol of the incongruencies of an architecture conceived for the cold and rain in a place where it is neither cold nor rains.

7. The extensive demolition proposals of the colonial heritage, as well as the widening of downtown streets and the massive construction of blocks formed by the Pilot Plan of 1949 failed to materialize its radicality. However, the center would not be the same space after the widening the roads and the construction of modern towers at the beginning of the fifties.

8. The commercial Gamarra neighborhood is located in the traditional central district of La Victoria. It occupies a variable extension of more than 63 blocks in middle of the urban inferno that still represents the mythical commercial neighborhood of La Parada. Today, with a movement of more than 600 million dollars a year, this emporium of hundreds of small businesses symbolizes the popular enterprise and the strength of popular capitalism. Gamarra is a fragment of the informal commercial neighborhood that has developed its own capacities of global insertion in middle of an ever more adverse market. As Miriam Chion argues, it is an exemplary case of the capacity of a marginal area to develop the appropriate institutional resources that have allowed it to connect with metropolitan and international networks (2002).

9. The market grounds were formed as a jumble of narrow corridors no more than 2 m wide and hundreds of tiny stalls 2 x 3 m. Covered with plastic awnings and other precarious materials, these markets were converted into a manifest symbol of a society that , like the Peruvian in the eighties, was plunged into the worst economic and political crisis in its history. Those located in the historical center were dismantled and relocated at the edge of the central area halfway through the nineties, giving rise to new popular commercial centers.

10. It should be recognized that in this first stage the climatic reason could have been influenced in the weak implementation of the Lima galleries of the nineties. In cities without rain or extreme weather, is at least one of the main reasons for the success of the passage: to be an welcome temporary refuge from the sudden downpour of inclement weather in the city (Benjamin, 1982). The first galleries in Lima had no alternative other than to recognize that the exterior city continues to be the privileged space of consumption and the exhilirating showcase of a tropical flâneur anxious to see and be seen.

 

References

AGENCIA ANDINA. "Gamarra produce S/.5,600 millones al año en confecciones". Andina, Agencia peruana de noticias. (On line). 25th February 2011, (Date of consultation: 15th July 2013). Available at: http://www.andina.com.pe/agencia/noticia-gamarra-produceal-ano-s-5600-millones-confecciones-y-60-se-vende-elmercado-local-345046.aspx

BENJAMIN, Walter. Libro de los pasajes. Rolf Tiedemann (ed.). Original c. 1927-1940 published in 1982. Madrid, Ediciones Akal, 2004.

CHION, Miriam. "Dimensión metropolitana de la globalización: Lima a fines del siglo XX ". EURE, Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios Urbanos Regionales, XXVIII (85): 71-87, 2002.

COELLO POHL, Tatiana. "Edith Martensen: Líneas hábiles que pintaron con amor al Perú". Sociedad Amantes del País. (On line). 8th March 2009, (Date of consultation: 15th July 2013). Available at: https://amantesdelpais.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/edith-martensen-lineas-habiles-que-pintaron-con-amor-al-peru/

DÁVILA, Juan Manuel. "La casa Ronald. Relato de la Sra. Vivian Davies de McCoy". Callao Centro Histórico. (On line). 10th March 2013, (fDate of consultation: 10 de julio de 2013) Available at: http://www.callaocentrohistorico.com/2013/03/la-casa-ronald-relato-de-la-sra-vivian.html

GARCÍA BRYCE, José. "Arquitectura en Lima 1800-1900". Amaru (3): 45-57, 1967.

GEIST, Johann. Le passage: un type architectural du XIXe siècle. Brussels, Pierre Mardaga, 1989.

LUDEÑA URQUIZO, Wiley. Lima. Transformaciones urbanas y reestructuración económica. Periodo 1990-2005. Lima, Centro de Investigaciones de Arquitectura y la Ciudad CIAC, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2008.

MATOS MAR, José. Perú. Estado desbordado y sociedad nacional emergente. Lima, Universidad Ricardo Palma, 2012.

PARKER, David. The idea of the middle class: white - collar workers and Peruvian society 1990-1950. Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998.

WEYLAND, Kurt. "Neopopulismo y neoliberalismo en América Latina: afinidades inesperadas". PRETEXTOS, Revista del Área de Investigación Aplicada y Documentación de DESCO, (10): 7-43, September 1997.

BASADRE, Jorge. Historia de la República del Perú 1822- 1933. Lima, Editorial Universitaria, 1983.

BENJAMIN, Walter. Discursos interrumpidos I. Filosofía del arte y de la historia. Rolf Tiedemann (ed.). Buenos Aires, Taurus, 1989.

LÓPEZ SORIA, José Ignacio. "Las lógicas de la modernidad". HUACA, Revista de la Facultad de Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Artes, Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería, (2): 4-9, April 1988.

LUDEÑA URQUIZO, Wiley. "Lima: poder, centro y centralidad. Del centro nativo al centro neoliberal". EURE, Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios Urbanos Regionales, XXVIII (83): 45-65, 2002.

MARIÁTEGUI, José Carlos. 7 ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana. Lima, Empresa Editora Amauta, 1973.

MATOS MAR, José. Desborde popular y crisis del Estado. Veinte años después. Lima, Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 2004.

MUÑOZ CABREJO, Fanni. Diversiones públicas en Lima 1890-1920: La experiencia de la modernidad. Lima, Red para el desarrollo de las Ciencias Sociales en el Perú, 2001.

ORTEGA, Julio. Cultura y Modernización en la Lima del 900. Lima, Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Participación CEDEP, 1986.

PINO, David. "La galería Mogollón". Lima la única. (On line). 16th August 2011, (Date of consultation: 20th July 2013). Available at: http://limalaunica.blogspot.com/2011/08/la-galeria-mogollon.html


1. Wiley Ludeña. Architect, Universidad Ricardo Palma, 1978; Master of Arquitectura, Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería, 1990 and Doctor in Urbanism, Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg, 1996. His work as theorist and historian consists of the study of formation patterns in the neighborhoods of the Peruvian and Latin American city of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, and the analysis of uses and transformation of these public spaces in the cities of Peru during the Republican period. Since 1980 he has been the journalist critic of architecture in the Peruvian press. He is the founder and director of the Master in History and Criticism of Architecture and the Master of Urban Renovation of the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería. He currently is a professor at the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería and the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

2. Diana Torres. Architect, Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería, 2013. Coordinator of the Editorial Fund of Architecture, Urbanism and Ar ts of the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería. She works in the technical direction of human settlements and land use of the Municipalidad Metropolitana de Lima. Her area of study centers around the urban dynamic in the peripheries of the city of Lima. She also currently teaches at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

AGENCIA ANDINA. "Gamarra produce S/.5,600 millones al año en confecciones". Andina, Agencia peruana de noticias. (En línea). 25 de febrero de 2011, (fecha de consulta: 15 de julio de 2013). Disponible en: http://www.andina.com.pe/agencia/noticia-gamarra-produceal-ano-s-5600-millones-confecciones-y-60-se-vende-elmercado-local-345046.aspx        [ Links ]

BENJAMIN, Walter. Libro de los pasajes. Rolf Tiedemann (ed.). Original c. 1927-1940 publicado en 1982. Madrid, Ediciones Akal, 2004.         [ Links ]

CHION, Miriam. "Dimensión metropolitana de la globalización: Lima a fines del siglo XX ". EURE, Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios Urbanos Regionales, XXVIII (85): 71-87, 2002.         [ Links ]

COELLO POHL, Tatiana. "Edith Martensen: Líneas hábiles que pintaron con amor al Perú". Sociedad Amantes del País. (En línea). 8 de marzo de 2009, (fecha de consulta: 15 de julio de 2013). Disponible en: https://amantesdelpais.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/edith-martensen-lineas-habiles-que-pintaron-con-amor-al-peru/        [ Links ]

DÁVILA, Juan Manuel. "La casa Ronald. Relato de la Sra. Vivian Davies de McCoy". Callao Centro Histórico. (En línea). 10 de marzo 2013, (fecha de consulta: 10 de julio de 2013) Disponible en: http://www.callaocentrohistorico.com/2013/03/la-casa-ronald-relato-de-la-sra-vivian.html        [ Links ]

GARCÍA BRYCE, José. "Arquitectura en Lima 1800-1900". Amaru (3): 45-57, 1967.         [ Links ]

GEIST, Johann. Le passage: un type architectural du XIXe siècle. Bruselas, Pierre Mardaga, 1989.         [ Links ]

LUDEÑA URQUIZO, Wiley. Lima. Transformaciones urbanas y reestructuración económica. Periodo 1990-2005. Lima, Centro de Investigaciones de Arquitectura y la Ciudad CIAC, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2008.         [ Links ]

MATOS MAR, José. Perú. Estado desbordado y sociedad nacional emergente. Lima, Universidad Ricardo Palma, 2012.         [ Links ]

PARKER, David. The idea of the middle class: white - collar workers and Peruvian society 1990-1950. Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998.         [ Links ]

WEYLAND, Kurt. "Neopopulismo y neoliberalismo en América Latina: afinidades inesperadas". PRETEXTOS, Revista del Área de Investigación Aplicada y Documentación de DESCO, (10): 7-43, septiembre de 1997.         [ Links ]

BASADRE, Jorge. Historia de la República del Perú 1822- 1933. Lima, Editorial Universitaria, 1983.         [ Links ]

BENJAMIN, Walter. Discursos interrumpidos I. Filosofía del arte y de la historia. Rolf Tiedemann (ed.). Buenos Aires, Taurus, 1989.         [ Links ]

LÓPEZ SORIA, José Ignacio. "Las lógicas de la modernidad". HUACA, Revista de la Facultad de Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Artes, Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería, (2): 4-9, abril de 1988.         [ Links ]

LUDEÑA URQUIZO, Wiley. "Lima: poder, centro y centralidad. Del centro nativo al centro neoliberal". EURE, Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios Urbanos Regionales, XXVIII (83): 45-65, 2002.         [ Links ]

MARIÁTEGUI, José Carlos. 7 ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana. Lima, Empresa Editora Amauta, 1973.         [ Links ]

MATOS MAR, José. Desborde popular y crisis del Estado. Veinte años después. Lima, Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 2004.         [ Links ]

MUÑOZ CABREJO, Fanni. Diversiones públicas en Lima 1890-1920: La experiencia de la modernidad. Lima, Red para el desarrollo de las Ciencias Sociales en el Perú, 2001.         [ Links ]

ORTEGA, Julio. Cultura y Modernización en la Lima del 900. Lima, Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Participación CEDEP, 1986.         [ Links ]

PINO, David. "La galería Mogollón". Lima la única. (En línea). 16 de agosto de 2011, (fecha de consulta: 20 julio 2013). Disponible en: http://limalaunica.blogspot.com/2011/08/la-galeria-mogollon.html.         [ Links ]

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