Project 31 Padre Mugica [31 Father Mugica]

Building of a monument that will be a symbol of joint social involvement and that will represent the integration of the City of Buenos Aires and the shanty town Barrio 31 Carlos Mugica.

The work consists in building a monument in the shanty town Barrio 31 Carlos Mugica. It is about taking the name 31 CARLOS MUGICA to a third dimension, resulting in a sculpture of a gigantic size, exceeding that of the constructions in the area. It will be built in reinforced concrete and then the neighbors will intervene it using different colors; it will be placed on a 30-meter high pillar of the highway that was abandoned and is at the heart of the neighborhood. Owing to its dimensions and location, the work will be visible both from inside and outside the neighborhood. Architect Javier Fernández Castro and his team from the School of Architecture, Design and Town Planning (University of Buenos Aires) are in charge of the projection and construction of the monument. The plans are available in the Annex section.

Apart from being the current administrator of the neighborhood appointed by the Government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Fernández Castro won, as a result of his town planning project for Barrio 31 Carlos Mugica, the first prize of the Premio de Investigación [Research Award] at the III Ibero-American Architecture Biennial held in Chile in 2002.

The initial idea of the work was to build number 31 only and place it in a visible location in the neighborhood. Then, and following countless meetings with the neighbors and referents of all sectors of the neighborhood, it was decided to add the words “Carlos Mugica” to the number. Carlos Mugica was a priest murdered in May 1974 by the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance. He fought hard in favor of the settlement of the inhabitants of Barrio 31, and against their eviction; he lived in this neighborhood in the seventies. Therefore, the oldest members of the community consider Mugica a symbol and they provided valid reasons so that his name could be part of the monument.

A pivotal part of the project is the documentary film that Director Guillermo Constanzo is carrying out. Such record shows what happens in Barrio 31 from the inside. Our ongoing visits to the place—that started in August 2009 with the presence of Political Scientist Geraldine Oniszczuk—led to reactions, conversations, meetings, encounters, opinions and exchanges with the community. Constanzo began a survey of all these events in December 2009. In addition, and to improve the record of the process, Lucila Penedo joined the work team to make the photograph documents.

It should be underscored that the Monument Committee, formed by around 10 referents from the neighborhood, was created in December 2009. This Committee worked hard on the internal spread of the project and the identification of suggestions made by the neighbors regarding the design and execution of the project. The perseverance and the scope of the activities of the Committee (which have been documented by Guillermo Constanzo) mirror both the participating spirit of the project as well as the strong response and commitment of the neighbors to the project.

The sizes of the monument result from the need to make the work visible. Both characteristics of the project (the intervention by the neighbors and its size) create their own art of poetry that refers to inclusion and to the appropriation by the spectator of what he is looking at, thereby creating a sense of belonging instead of a sense of exclusion.