The player as ball, the ball as field /
Manuel Casanueva and The Tournaments
An exhibition organized by Felipe Mujica
February - April 2015
NuMu is proud to present for the first time in Guatemala photographic and video documentation of Los Torneos (the tournaments): Extremely playful corporal and spatial exercises developed by Manuel Casanueva, with colleagues and students between 1972 and 1992 at the Catholic University of Valparaíso, in Chile. Founded in 1952 and still active, it is also known as the Escuela de Valparíso or simply the La Escuela. Since it's founding it proposed a unique philosophy in which the teaching and learning as well as the praxis and living of architecture where approached through its integration with the arts and poetry, where more than building the focus was on how spaces could be “inhabited.”
The tournaments were celebratory events that emerged from the course “Cultura del cuerpo” (Culture of the body), a mandatory physical education workshop. The tournaments consisted on creating and realizing different exercises, where the concept and structure of each “game”—field, teams, rules, props—were utilized to produce different kinds of corporal and spatial interactions that emphasized collectivity, chance, and improvisation. Contextually it is important to emphasize that the tournaments were enacted under the guaranties of academic research. However, it happened during a period in Chile in which public space, as well as the private and academic ones, where rigidly controlled by Pinochet’s authoritarian dictatorship.
Images of young men and women joyfully playing and exploring the relationship between their bodies and space were captured in photographs and videos. Thanks to this documentation we can, to some extent, relive the colorful and poetic formal experimentation of the tournaments.
This exhibition will be accompanied by the presentation of the book Jugador como pelota, pelota como cancha (The Player as Ball, The Ball as Field), which was originally conceived during conversations with María Berríos and Paola Santoscoy, and was published in late 2014 as a closing project for my solo exhibition Arriba como ramas que un mismo viento mueve (Up Above Like Branches Moved by a Common Wind) at the Museo Experimental El Eco in Mexico City. The book both pays homage to Manuel Casanueva and all the people who contributed to the creation and development of the tournaments, and introduces his work to an international public by providing an English translation of Casanueva’s descriptions of the tournaments. It is difficult to fully grasp a history that is so local and so specific, narrated and remembered from such a personal perspective. This book wishes to finally diffuse knowledge of the tournaments outside of Chile—to send them leaping over the cordillera and the ocean, so high and vast.
We would like to thank the continuous support of Paola Santoscoy and the Museo Experimental El Eco, México City, as well as the generosity and openness of the Archivo Histórico José Vial Armstrong, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. Also, would like to thank Hugo Quinto, Juan Pablo Lojo, TEOR/éTica and Los Amigos del NuMu for their generous support in making this exhibition, and its accompanying publication, possible. Last but not least, profound thanks to Olivia Casanueva and family, for their trust and great enthusiasm.
Manuel Casanueva (Chile, 1946-2014) studied at the Catholic University of Valparaíso, graduating as Architect in 1972. As a student he participated in the university reform of 1967 and later became a founding member of Ciudad abierta (Open City), where he resided for 12 years. He is awarded an architectural professorship in the School of Valparaíso, and from 1972 until 1992 conducted the Culture of the Body workshop, where the Tournaments were developed. For several years, he is the advisor of the Dirección de Proyectos de la Municipalidad de Valparaíso for which he envisioned and directed the inaugural ceremony for the Campeonato Mundial Juvenil de Fútbol (World Youth Soccer Championship) in 1985.
His dedication was centralised in experimental architecture which processes are visible in the work La hospedería del errante (The Wanderers Quarters). In 2010, the work is selected as one of the most distinguished national works in the last 20 years of Chilean Architecture. In 2011 the School of Architects of Chile grants him the Sergio Larraín García Moreno Award, which is given as a lifetime recognition of relevant teaching and research and, more specifically, for the work Hospedería del errante.
His publications include two books about the tournaments and others about experimental architecture and urban planning. Parkinson's disease forced Casanueva to retire from the School of Valparaíso (ca. 2000). Towards the end of his career, he dedicated himself to drawing and painting at his home in Concón, experimenting with materials such as ink, gouache and watercolor.
As a painter he exhibited at the Galería Mirador de Lastarria, Santiago de Chile (2011) and at the Galería El Altillo, Santiago de Chile (2012). Recently, his work as an architect and teacher has been included in the exhibitions “Desvíos de la deriva” at the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid (2010), “Arriba como ramas que un mismo viento mueve” at the Museo Experimental El Eco, Mexico City (2014), and “Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955–1980” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2015).
Felipe Mujica (Santiago, Chile, 1974) studies art at the Universidad Católica de Chile. Just out of art school he co-founds the artist run space Galería Chilena, which operated between 1997 and 2005, first as a nomadic and commercial art gallery and later as a collaborative art project, a curatorial “experiment”. In early 2000 Mujica moved to New York City where he currently lives and works. Parallel and interrelated to his own work Mujica has organised and produced many collaborative projects, which include mostly exhibitions and books. In collaboration with Johanna Unzueta since 2009 he designs and edits artist books, such as: Local People, Trapped by Mutal Affection, Peace, Love and Rockets and Arquitectura y amistad.
Recent group shows include “Ir para volver”, 12 Bienal de Cuenca, Cuenca (2014); “Ways of Working: The Incidental Object”, Fondazione Merz, Torino (2013); “Parque Industrial”, Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo (2012); “Contaminaciones Contemporaneas”, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Universidad de Chile, Santiago (2012) and Museu de Arte Contemporãnea da Universidade de São Paulo (2011); “Critical Complicity”, Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna (2010); “The Nature of Things - Biennial of the Americas”, Denver (2010) and "Third Guangzhou Triennial", Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou (2008). Mujica has had solo shows at the Museo Experimental El Eco, Mexico D.F.; Proyectos Ultravioleta, Guatemala City; Galería Nuno Centeno, Porto; Galerie Christinger De Mayo, Zürich and Die Ecke Arte Contemporáneo, Santiago.