Mariela Limerutti Visual Artist, Argentina.

40 x 40 m
Material: Soil - Water

25 de Mayo Square
San Juan - Argentina

This work took the form of a Portulana Map in large scale dividing the public territory. It put the pedestrians as the thematic center of the work; and owing to this action the work was dissolved. The citizens' memory of the work was the pondered monument which will remember this fleeting work that also points to our own impermanence.

The Portulana map is a symbol of the Middle Ages travellers that allowed for a wide development in sailing, and so European conquerors could arrive in America. This map was used to mark the journeys and directions to the navigators. The portulana map has 16 compass cards and a central one based on orientations of the compass. The water fountain of the 25 of May Square was the central compass card of the map framed with 16 outlying centres of the compass cards that surrounded the map. In this work the portulana map was taken out of its marine context, its scale was changed and a new context was given in this semi-desert territory. This place, which is far from the oceans, is disconnected from water like a traffic space. The scarce and very necessary water in this desert, is used here as a dislocation element: for its absence and in its substitution, soil was used for the work emphasizing the sense of aridity which is opposed to the marine area to which the portulana map remits and to the sea water that is so far away.

This work makes reference to the character of visitors that we adopt as individuals in this "sea of earth": my city, a semi-desert land (a kind of island) where it becomes difficult to navigate and advance. Jorge Luis Borges said that the Argentineans are not citizens but "inhabitants", making reference to how we live and remain in Argentina but we don't develop attitudes of ownership to the place nor do we develop feelings of historicity. Perhaps, our quality of inhabitants which also according to Borges, comes from the fact that we were born here, but our origin "comes from ships". Thus, we become "travellers". This work turned each individual that crossed it into a sailor that circulates, goes and leaves through routes like the ships and navigators did using these maps to arrive in other lands. The casual pedestrians became navigators when they were introduced into the system of the compass cards, that day of the intervention. It was done in a period of crisis in which the citizens of this centre exiled themselves crossing the oceans. This way of being is an inheritance of past generations that have been in a continuous displacement. This "going and coming" is part of the process of finding the place, of orienting themselves. However, these trips turn us into nomads and this can make us lose our direction.

My intention was to give the citizens the power of mapping their direction as the Portulans did. In an ephemeral environment in constant transformation, the walkers marked a net of unforeseeable movements according to decisions of the moment on the itinerary to follow; the one they could also leave, reorient or continue.