Jumat, 25 Agustus 2017


Arq. Luis Cercós, restorer of architecture, SCA
Heritage, cultural heritage, restoration of heritage, defend heritage! Intolerable aggression to heritage. The word "heritage", its value and many other debates around these concepts, appear very frequently in newspapers, magazines, news bulletins, discussion boards and opinion forums. The heritage has become almost a religion of fundamentalist tints, sometimes filled with Manichaean topics. The reality is that today heritage is defended only, although citizens sometimes have another perception. Cultural property and works of art have never, in any other period of history, been objectively as protected as now. The necessary debate is not always objective, innocent or well-intentioned. Much of the world heritage has often been defined through messages and programs set forth in advance with clear political intent. All those involved want to keep their quotas of influence. I suppose they are the rules of the game, since politics - a branch of morality, by the way - is part of life in society and serves us to define the rules of the game.
History is interpretation from the present time, from what happened in past times. The restoration of architecture could be defined in a very similar way: a reinterpretation from the present, of buildings that have come down to us but built in the past. Contrary to general opinion, neither are nor can be considered objects of the past. Architectural effects remain contemporary with us as we have not yet disappeared - something obvious that often happens unnoticed, even among professionals of the discipline. If only they were buildings that existed (architecture loss), we would not speak of restoration but of reconstruction or of replication. Therefore, only architectural pieces still present and from the current reality can be restored. Actuality and ways of thinking that involve visions of State, The state or the state that evolve, sometimes very subtly, sometimes in a more grotesque way. The problem arises when the great load of subjectivity invariably attached to every architectural project is confronted with false arguments that appear to us with the appearance of irrefutable truth (sophisms).
Restoration of architecture demands contemporary design decisions - on the contrary, it is forgery. Also the adaptation of the historical building to a modern functionality - the opposite is taxidermy, mummification, embalming. All this within strictly internationally accepted limits: difference between the new and the old, the value of what remains, the enhancement of the unique and historical character of each architectural object. In most cases, these initial commitments result from a very difficult practical application because the symbolic character of many buildings of the past - or of their tangible or intangible symbols - introduces multiple variables in the exciting intellectual exercise of restoration.
I was clearly aware of this for the first time during my participation in the restoration works of the monastery of San Jerónimo de Yuste (Cuacos de Yuste, Extremadura, Spain), a direct consequence of the many didactic lectures that during those years (1999- 2002) I maintained with the contracted historian to carry out the previous historical investigation and the support to the historical interpretation of the archaeological findings arisen during the constructive process.
An historical event that took place in that place during only two years of the sixteenth century is well known in Spain: in the monumental complex of Yuste lived and died the emperor Charles V, grandson of the Catholic Kings, father of Felipe II. As a witness and symbol of the golden age of the Spanish empire, the monastery became a reference and metaphor (splendor, ruin, reconstruction) of the historical future of Spain. A history supported in a reconstruction of the monastery realized under direct mandate of Francisco Franco (1892-1975), dictator of Spain between 1939 and 1975.
It is not the times that change, but the men that change the times. [1]
A year after winning the civil war, General Franco already wanted to begin the reconstruction of the monastery with a view to the celebration of the fourth centenary of the death of Charles of Habsburg (Ghent, 1500-Cuacos de Yuste, 1558). The scenography that the dictatorship introduced into the Emperor's chambers was still explained by the museum's guides in the years before 2000 and referred us, among other interestingly partial truths, to a king who spoke Spanish.
The struggle to impose the Spanish language as the only official language of the Francoist Spain affected the identity of Galicians, Catalans, Valencians, Mallorcan, Asturian and Basque. When they did not feel understood, the matter would later, to a greater or lesser extent, bring about nationalist conflicts still to be resolved. The biography of Carlos V written by Manuel Fernández Álvarez [2] says that although the emperor spoke Spanish and French, he never really abandoned the language of his native Ghent - Dutch, a dialect of Dutch - and always kept a circle Of faithful flamenco collaborators.
In Franco's museographic program, Charles V was fervently Catholic, since between 1939 and 1975 Spain did not have the non-denominational constitution of today, officially declaring itself " Catholic, Apostolic and Roman " [3] . Emphasis was placed on a man retired to a cloistered convent, who lived among black cloths that covered all the walls of his quarters to maintain the mourning for his deceased wife, Isabel of Portugal, consistent with the family model of a regime in the That there was no divorce, single women depended on the father and married women not only could not dispose of their own property but also of themselves, because anything they wanted to do - among them work - had to have the written authorization of the husband.
The visit to the monastery emphasized spiritual retreat, monastic life and daily mass and communion. The most powerful monarch was renounced to all the pleasures of the Court, living in an austerity equivalent to that suffered by the Spaniards themselves during the first years of the regime. In those years the postwar period was very hard. Six weeks after the end of the Civil War, a Ministerial Order of 14 May 1939 established the rationing regime in Spain for basic foodstuffs and basic necessities. The rationing was not enough to cover the basic nutritional needs of the population, so that they lived years of hunger and misery. In May 1943 the month of substitution of the family card for a new individual card, the number of rationing in Spain exceeded 27 million people[4] , practically the entire population. The rationing officially lasted until May 1952, when it disappeared for food products.
In short, the monastery of Yuste was thus transformed into an object of Francoist propaganda transformed into irrefutable proof of the official history that we were told. For the purposes we are concerned, it is important to note that the monumental complex of the Monastery of Yuste was razed by French troops during the so-called War of Spanish Independence, 1808-1814, a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. Almost all that can still be visited today is the fruit of a debatable reconstruction:
From the 1940s onwards, as soon as the Civil War ended, and under a clear desire for manipulation and appropriation of imperial history, the difficult reconstruction of the monastery began, carried out by the architect José María González-Valcárcel, who It would last just over three decades. The building was then in an advanced degree of abandonment and deterioration, which, coupled with the lack of rigorous historical research and a type of intervention marked by predetermined (political and propagandistic) approaches, alien to the monument itself, Forced the reading of it from angles sometimes considerably removed from its historical and artistic. [5]
In 1998, when the Hispania Nostra Foundation, in tune with the Europa Nostra Association, took on the challenge of renovating the Monastery with European funds to commemorate the V centenary of the birth of CaesarCarlos, Spain was no longer an isolated nation but integrated with full right into the European Union (he obtained it on January 1, 1986, eleven years after the death of the dictator) and the image he was interested in transmitting was not that of a A fervent historical figure defender of the Roman Church who fought to prevent the establishment of Lutheran doctrine, but the visionary of a Europe that sought to unify it under his dynasty, the Habsburgs. Charles V was now an ancestor of the idea of ​​a political community of law that integrates and governs in common all the territories and peoples of the "new" Europe and in which idiosyncrasies, languages ​​and differences fit:
The false ideas of the ascetic retreat of the emperor and the stories that have wanted to show him as an ordinary man away from the affairs of life in general and politics in particular have fueled the feeling of estrangement and recess. But when Carlos V settled down in Yuste, the flow of couriers, messengers and personages who visited him was extremely high and continued during the barely two years of his stay, maintaining a special correspondence with what was then capital of the Crown, Valladolid , Since Carlos V continued from his palace of Yuste managing the children of the imperial policy. He has had little to do with this historical desire to make him almost a monk who never was,[6]
In conclusion, the works commemorating the fourth centenary of the death financed by the Franco regime told the children who visited the monastery a history; And those of the V Centenary of its birth, financed by the European Union, explained to the children and grandchildren of those, a very different one. The new project, on the other hand, started from a French antecedent barely known until that date:
"Fortunately, a French architect named Andre Conte - ... - received a scholarship from the French government to carry out a study project in Spain and which consisted in the rigorous and accurate removal of the ruins of the monastery of Yuste, as well as a serious proposal for Its reconstruction, a work that developed between the years 1934 and 1935 and to which we have had access thanks to the great generosity of his widow and children. The accuracy in pointing out each and every vestige and existing ruins makes them a reliable basis ... " [7]
The plan and the documents drafted by Conte were vital for the ideological approach and the functional program of the works carried out during the period 1999-2002. [8]
Let us now speak of the monument to Columbus, a sculptural ensemble that remained for over 90 years alongside the Casa Rosada. Work of the Florentine Arnaldo Zocchi (1862-1940), the monument was built initially and entirely in Italy, then disarmed and all parts, conveniently numbered, were transported to Buenos Aires where the sculptor was then in charge of directing their assembly. The first stone was placed on May 24, 1910 but the work was not inaugurated until 1921. A monument that was a traveler since its inception, like so many European emigrants who came to this country.
After a long and controversial process the monument to Columbus was retired in June of 2013 although it has not yet been installed in which it will very probably be its future location [9] . The transfer to the Plaza de Colón of the city of Mar del Plata is currently underestimated and the work will remain in Buenos Aires. Dismantled and waiting for its assembly, the monument today is literally in limbo, waiting for its destiny.
For and against dismantling and transfer, they exchanged vehement opinions about nepotism, heritage, jurisprudence and breach of agreements and laws for more than two years. Curiously, the bottom line is not patrimonial, because the artistic value of the monument and its legal protection is not, and has not been, sufficiently substantiated.
In fact, the monument to Columbus never had the necessary minimum legal protection that would have included it in a list of goods to be protected of the Argentine cultural heritage. In which case the operation would have been legally unviable. To put an extreme example, no government would ever think of dismantling the Trevi Fountain (Rome). The obelisk, to follow with examples that facilitate the understanding of the subject, icon of Buenos Aires, is National Historical Monument despite having been erected relatively recently (year 1936, it is "a generation younger" than the monument to Columbus) Which also serves to elude the argument regarding the passage of time in favor of or against the equity value. Antiquity is linked to heritage, but not all heritage is old. In the same way, Some pieces that are less than 100 years old - considered "barrier" - they are. The "monument to Columbus" does not enjoy the protection of the Obelisk. Playing with words we could say that "the monument to Columbus is not Monument".
In favor of those who supported the dismantling of Columbus, Brandi would apply the doctrine [10] : u na work of art it is only if society considered as such. I missed that point in the articles published about it. Any intervention on the work - in strictly patrimonial parameters - depends firstly on that recognition. It is the work of art that conditions the intervention (the disassembly and transfer, in this case) and not the other way around. In the matter at hand, the controversy has always been centered on the manipulation of the sculptural ensemble, not on the actual fact of modifying it. A transfer is a modification, since the movable property is rooted to a certain place. If the monument is not a work of art, the debate is initially irrelevant in strictly patrimonial terms, but of enormous political repercussion. Especially if the substitution concerns antagonistic characters. The binomial Colón-Azurduy almost forced to enlist in one cause or the other. For or against the decision of the president. For or against the position chosen by the City Government. Another example of the dualism linked to the Argentine character. In soccer simile, be from River or be from Boca.
Following Brandi, although the work of art has a "usefulness" (as an object of worship, commemorative, liturgy, or any other), its value is not defined only by it (as would happen with other products of human creation) One must take into account their physical consistency and their dual aesthetic and historical polarity. On the one hand, the irrefutable quality as an artistic object and, on the other hand, the historical moment in which it was realized. That is, a concrete time and place that would guarantee the work of art its continuity in a certain time and place.
Tints that are not, strictly speaking, applicable to the monument to Columbus. It is not recognized as a work of art by the State, nor by the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, nor by the collective subconscious, nor even by the previous and necessary opinion of experts of recognized prestige. The monument to Columbus was not invested with a legal figure that protected it for strictly patrimonial purposes. The laws that have been argued by those who were against the transfer, alluded to property issues alleging basically that the Government of the Nation had no jurisdiction over an object owned by the city of Buenos Aires. The heritage belongs to everyone, not objects. The debate over ownership is also irrelevant for heritage purposes.
Finally, the sophistry that hides behind a linguistic manipulation, since the word "monument" does not define exclusively a cultural good and has several meanings. When we say "Columbus monument , " we are correctly referring to his character as " or public and patent bra, like a statue, an inscription or a grave, placed in memory of a heroic act or singular another thing ", regardless of the word "Monument" can also be a " construction that has artistic, archaeological or historical value ". Again, in interest, this linguistic concept has clouded the issue, confusing it. They are the things of Spanish, understood as language. It's the same with hundreds of words. "Language" for example is "The muscular organ located in the cavity of the mouth of the vertebrates and that serves for tasting ", but also a" system of verbal communication and almost always written, own of a human community ". One thing is the dry tongue of a thirsty mother and quite another our "mother tongue."
Yes, the "monument to Columbus" is a monument (let's say lowercase, to understand us) to the extent that it represents someone dead and commemorates it; But is not a Monument (capitalized) for the purposes of complying with municipal, regional, national or international rules of heritage protection that may apply to it. To put it simply: statues can be works of art, but most of them are not.
The words spoken by Diego Santilli, Minister of Environment and Public Space of the government of the city of Buenos Aires, suffice as proof of our argument:
"If the national government wants to move the monument within the space of the square that bears its name, it can do it without inconveniences, because the Nation is in charge of the care of it, but if its intention is to remove it from there and transfer it to another Public space, then it will need a law of the Legislature of the city of Buenos Aires "
At that time, March of 2013, the city government did not question the damage that the assembly and disassembly could cause to the monument. This matter is vital when manipulating a work of art. Further proof that the substantive debate was never "patrimonial". The government of the city did not think the manipulation of the object was relevant, but the distance to which it would be mounted: inside the fence, nothing to say; Outside of it, for a few meters, yes. Let us remember again the very genesis of sculpture, designed to be assembled and disassembled from its own conception. And I speak here of sculpture using the meaning " work executed by one sculptor " and not the other " sculptural work of art ". Shades, again.
Several associations have demanded that it be maintained in its national location, claiming heritage defense, architectural circumstances, urban issues and / or the right to maintain the circumstances that made possible its initial implementation. In this case the gift to the city by the Italian collective in the commemoration of the first Centenary of the May Revolution. However, all parties usually avoid a point that I consider vital in this debate: Christopher Columbus is not today the same indisputable character 100 years ago. It was donated to celebrate the first centenary, but not long ago we celebrated the bicentennial of our country. The celebrations of the centenary, were very different from those of the bicentennial, worth the redundancy. To speak of this matter forces us also to do so on the figure of the navigator. What for some was an undeniable feat is for others the beginning of the disappearance of most of the original peoples, a genocide. What was held before, today is discussed. And in the discussion also arise ideological militacies, political positions, different visions of Latin America and the world.
Christopher Columbus died when Charles of Harburg was 6 years old. They are contemporary characters. The voyage of the Genoese navigator resulted in the annexation to the crown of Spain of the overseas territories discovered during the sixteenth century. Two centuries later, between 1740 and 1790, the Spanish Empire still occupied 19.5 million square kilometers, 13% of the earth's surface. And although the figure Columbus is not as controversial as that of Hernán Cortés or Francisco Pizarro, many consider it the beginning of everything that would come later. The same historical fact, different interpretations. Characters that were once venerated, today are studied with distance and skepticism. The new historiographical currents on President Julio Argentino Roca (1843-1914) also serve to illustrate what I mean.  
The dismantling of the monument to Columbus has a team of curators led by the architect and sculptor Omar Stela. His thinking is radical, but he perfectly explains his vision of the transfer:
"A monument is an exhortation, an offering. In the case of Columbus, it is an offering that is not naive: like the Tower of the English or the Monument of the Spanish, it is a way of marking territory, to say that this is a country that looks towards Europe. The monument to Columbus is a monument to dismanliness: a monument to the children of a Mother Country that today are denied by that same mother, who are treated as foreigners or expelled. To remove it is to deepen that wound, it is a gesture more of estrangement from Europe. Colón is not involved in the genocide of the indigenous peoples, but since the arrival of Columbus, the population of Guanahani Island has been reduced by 90 percent . " [eleven]
It is the opinion of an individual, even if it is professionally linked to the project. He speaks within a free country and his opinion is shared by many others. Democracy is fortunate. What is not "particular" but "state" is the opinion of our president. The State thus removes from the Casa Rosada one chapter of History and substitutes it for another:
"It's not a whimsical decision. We treat everyone with respect. We want to get Cristóbal Colón to install next to the Casa Rosada, representing the entire history of the Argentineans, of all the blood ... we put the Juana Azurduy, the heroine of Independence " [12]
It is the sign of the new times. It is therefore proven that Columbus's last voyage was not a patrimonial debate, so perhaps an article like this should not have been included in this special issue of Heritage.

[1] Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), Chancellor of Nazi Germany and Minister of the Third Reich for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda: "Propaganda should label events and people with phrases or slogans that can be easily learned."
[2] Manuel Fernández Álvarez (1921-2010), considered in life the greatest authority in the History of Spain of the sixteenth century. He devoted 50 years of his life to the study of Charles V, the result of which are his masterpiece "Charles V, the Caesar and Man" and the monumental "Corpus documentary de Carlos V" (Salamanca, 1973-1981).
[3] "With immense joy we address you, beloved children of Catholic Spain, to express our paternal congratulation for the gift of peace and victory, with which God has deigned to crown the Christian heroism of your faith and charity , Proved in so many and so generous sufferings, "Pope Pius XII, April 16, 1939, through Vatican Radio, just two weeks after the end of the Spanish Civil War that ended the Second Republic.
[4] Roque Moreno Fonseret, Interior movements and food rationing in the Spanish postwar period.
[5] Antonio Perla,From history to romantic myth, pages 15 to 82 of the book "El Monasterio de Yuste" (Madrid, 2007)
[6] Antonio Perla, historian, historical researcher during the restoration works of the monastery of Yuste, idem. Previous.
[7] Antonio Perla, work cited.
[8] Collaboration agreement between the Caja Madrid Foundation and the Hispania Nostra Foundation for the integrated conservation of the monastery of San Jerónimo de Yuste. The tender project and the subsequent contracting of the works was coordinated by the Technical Office of the Hispania Nostra Foundation, under the direction of its executive vice president, member of a Control and Monitoring Committee composed also by the chief architect of the Service The Department of Monuments and Archeology of the Spanish Historical Heritage Institute, the director of the Spanish Historical Heritage Conservation Program of the Caja Madrid Foundation and the head of the Project and Works Department of the Extremadura Regional Government. The technical team consisted of a total of 16 technicians and was carried out in two phases.
[9] Agreement between the National Government and the Government of the City of June 5, 2014 to place it in front of Aeroparque, at the breakwater of the North Costanera.
[10] Cesare Brandi (1906-1988), historian and art critic, essayist and specialist in restoration theory of works of art.
[11] Columbus' last trip, newspaper "Page 12", July 14, 2013.
[12] Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, during the opening speech of the new facilities of the Balseiro Institute of Bariloche, July 4, 2013.