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ARQ (Santiago)

On-line version ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.106 Santiago Dec. 2020 


The City as Text

Carola Ureta Marín1 

1 Master in Visual Communication, Royal College of Art, Londres, Inglaterra.


After the social unrest of October 2019, the walls became the spokespersons for the infinite ways to demand a more dignified life. Thus, an architectural element - the facade - became a territory of political struggle. Through photography and design, the City as Text project registered this condition and transformed it into an archive for a future in which, hopefully, it will no longer be necessary to make those demands again.

Keywords: coexistence; documentation; demonstrations; city; photography

Source: © La Ciudad como Texto

Figure 1 Official poster. 

The City as Text is the name of a project that rescues the memory engraved on the walls of La Alameda: the avenue that was the protagonist - in Santiago - of the demonstrations during the

social unrest in Chile.

Source: © La Ciudad como Texto

Figure 2 Stretch 1, Providencia Ave. between Seminario St. and General Bustamante Ave.  

The project is an invitation to take a virtual tour of the 2.4 km recorded on the 36th day of the unrest. This journey, which begins at the citizen protests’ epicenter - ‘Plaza Dignidad’ -, proceeds along the southern side of the city’s emblematic central axis, ending in Plaza de la Ciudadanía, located right in front of La Moneda, the presidential palace.

Source: © La Ciudad como Texto

Figure 3 Stretch 2, Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins Ave. between Vicuña Mackenna Ave. and Ramón Corvalán St. 

This record, made in collaboration with the photographer Daniel Corvillón, is composed of 136 photographs. The material is hosted on the site, designed and programmed together with the web developer Felipe Sologuren. Thus, people from all over the world can live the experience of walking through these streets and fix their memory in a particular moment of Chilean history, collecting in a unique way all the messages that were shouted as well as tattooed in the walls as an echo of the social demands. This material - free and of public access - is presented as an input for various research and educational, artistic, and cultural works.

Source: © La Ciudad como Texto

Figure 4 Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins Ave., near the front of the Casa Central of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. 

We worked on the project during the quarantine, taking 9 months to be released, with a digital launch in August 2020. This initiative is characterized by being completely collaborative and self-managed by its author, and so far, more than 60 people have participated. In addition to the images, this project has 36 guests, including the National Prize for Architecture, Miguel Lawner; the graphic artist Vicente Larrea; Luis Albornoz; the editor of loM Ediciones Silvia Aguilera; the current rector of Universidad de las Artes del Ecuador María Paulina Soto; the coordinator of Memoria Chilena Daniela Schütte; among others, who collaborated by writing a footnote inspired by specific fragments of the record. Following the citizen resistance aesthetics that marked the demonstrations, these texts are illuminated by green lasers and can be viewed as you navigate the urban route. There is a digital book - also hosted on the website and free for download - where the project is detailed, along with the footnotes and other guest texts. Currently, there is a 15-meter-long fragment of the record in the Museo del Estallido Social, which can be visited.

Source: © La Ciudad como Texto

Figure 5 Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins Ave., near the front of the Casa Central of the Universidad de Chile. 

The manual and digital exercise of reconstructing this kilometer-long cloth, allows us to rescue the demands, slogans, phrases, characters, and messages that were poured in the streets and erased a month after the demonstrations began with the coats of painting of invisible organizations, this even before Covid-19 arrived in Chile and citizens were confined to the interior of their homes.

Source: © La Ciudad como Texto

Figure 6 Photographic montage. 

Source: © La Ciudad como Texto

Figure 7 Photographic montage. 


Carola Ureta Marín

Designer, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Master in Cultural Management, Universidad de Chile. She specializes in editorial projects and graphic design linked to cultural development. She is the director and founder of the project The City as Text; co-author of the book Luis Fernando Rojas: Obra Gráfica 1875-1942, awarded as Best Edition 2015; and is part of the digital platform Diseño Nacional. She has participated in international congresses on the study and history of design in Taipei (2016), Medellin (2018), Barcelona (2018) and New York (2020). Currently, she is part of the curatorial team of the Chilean Pavilion for the London Design Biennale 2021, and is a student of the Master in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art, United Kingdom.

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