Monday, 17 December 2012


Taller de Artesanía Salvaje (TAS) Blueprint, rooftop painted blue

Colectivo C.H.O.L.O.'s photomural, images of the inhabitants of the neighborhood, including local transvestites

neighbouring rooftop

CITIO, 3 Funciones 3, occupation of rooftop with new uses including poetry club

Lima Rooftop Ecology curator Carlos Leon-Xjimenez inviting guests to climb the viewing platform

Rooftop viewing platform

Lima Urban Laboratory microgarden installation

Karen Bernedo's documentary video of the inhabitants of the area

Lima Rooftop Ecology office

anonymous mural on rooftop

press release:
Organized by Carlos Leon-Xjimenez
An apexart franchise in Lima,
Featuring work by:
Karen Bernedo, Christians Luna, CITIO (Ciudad Transdiciplinar), Colectivo C.H.O.L.O. and Taller de Artesania Salvaje
On View November 3-December 1
In Zona30: Jr. Carabaya 953, San Martin Square. Cercado de Lima, Lima, Peru

In Lima, a place where it never rains, rooftops provide a unique perspective from which to reimagine and reinterpret the city. A kind of parallel city, Lima’s rooftops are a fragile, hidden landscape, full of unregulated possibilities within an already existing architectural infrastructure. Lima Rooftop Ecology explores the potential of art interventions in the urban landscape, inviting the audience to rethink protected cultural heritage in a reality where stagnation frames urban decay.

The exhibition will take place on different rooftops in Lima’s historical city center that surround Zona30, an art residency program. For the exhibition, artists, activists, and architects will create site-specific artworks and participate in a series of round-table discussions, addressing art and its potential for activism and interpretations of the local urban landscape.

Carlos León-Xjimenez is an artist and independent curator based in Lima, Peru, and Berlin, Germany. His projects are focused on the topics of memory, gender, public space, cultural heritage, and the city. He studied anthropology at Catholic University of Peru in Lima and has a Master in Fine Arts in Public Art from the Bauhaus University of Weimar, where he is currently a PhD Candidate in Architecture in Urban Heritage.

exhibition text:
Like small deserts, isolated plots, and terrain-vagues, Lima's rooftops are suspended spaces with particular ecologies. In a city that never sees rain, the flat rooftops accumulate dust brought by the wind from surrounding mountains and sandy coastal areas.

Looking over the rooftops of Lima's historical center, which includes buildings from the 16th to the 20th Century, a process of stagnation and decay is evident. This city center embodies the challenges and problems of development in an unorganized megacity. In 1991 UNESCO incorporated it into the World Heritage List and, while the ensuing tourism-oriented recovery included architectural cosmetic surgery the poverty and social problems were left untouched behind the area's walls. Since 2004 a slow gentrification process led by private investors has focused on the purchase and renovation of office buildings from the 20th Century.

It is from this rooftop perspective that one gets a different insight into Lima's historical city center: approaching socio-cultural complexities, which are impossible to perceive from the street level. These rooftops are a kind of parallel city, but also a fragile, hidden landscape; a territory full of unregulated possibilities within an existing architectural infrastructure. It is also a space of struggle, survival, and a "right to the city." In opposite and yet complementary ways the streets and rooftops of Lima tell the story of the city. From this perspective the city is approached as a complex palimpsest of agendas, policies, and citizens in conflict and tension.

Lima Rooftop Ecology addresses the pre-conceived notions of urban landscape and habitat, generating specific interventions using the rooftops and their different ecologic complexities as a point of departure. The project reflects on the potential of the downtown rooftops, and promotes alternative perceptions and scenarios in the local urban landscape, serving as a case study in the potential of a neighborhood under protected heritage status.

A viewing platform, which serves as a central viewpoint for the project, has been installed on the rooftop of ZONA30 an art residency in the city center. This platform turns its back to the Plaza San Martin in the heart of Lima's historic center, focusing instead on the urban landscape visible towards the neighborhood of Contumaza and Lino Cornejo streets. It is on the rooftops of the nearby houses of this neighborhood that the works of participating artists, architects, and collectives have been installed to be seen and experienced from the platform at ZONA30.

For Lima Rooftop Ecology the participating artists have created site specific works that give form to different aspects, dimensions, and tensions around the "urban topography" of roofs, façades, and streets that serve as a porous skin between the private and the public.

Two of the works in the exhibition use traditional media—in a nontraditional setting—to engage with the area's residents. Karen Bernedo is a documentary and art filmmaker whose work is focused on the topics of memory, gender, and human rights issues connected to the armed conflict and political violence in Peru. For Lima Rooftop Ecology she has created a documentary video that serves as an activator for dialogue between neighbors. The collective C.H.O.L.O. is comprised of Nancy Viza, Wilder Ramos, and Marcelo Zevallos; since 2007 they have encouraged local cultural identity and environmental awareness with their work in low income districts of Lima and Callao. For Lima Rooftop Ecology, C.H.O.L.O. has developed a rooftop installation composed of photographs of local residents.

Other projects for Lima Rooftop Ecology include interventions in the urban environment that invite visitors to interact with the physical space of the rooftops. Taller de Artesanía Salvaje (TAS) (Wild Crafts Workshop) is a multidisciplinary group comprised of Teresa Cabrera, Cristián Alarcón, and Daniel Ramirez Corzo, that focus on activism and research in the social sciences, communications, and visual arts. Since 2007 their work has included video art, documentary film, and site-specific interventions, along with academic seminars and political activism. For the exhibition, TAS has used the roof of a local house as a place for architectural extension.

Christians Luna and his colleagues from the Lima Urban Laboratory (Pablo Díaz Mora and Diego Rodríguez), together with Michelle Álvarez and Fiorella Pugliesi, have created a micro-gardening installation. Luna is a visual artist, focused mainly on social behavior and also an activist, poet, and member of the ZONA30 team; Alvarez and Pugliesi are architects and landscape designers. Luna's work generates situations of interaction with different publics, addressing issues of pollution, social gaps, and communication absence. His colleagues for his project for Lima Rooftop Ecology are architects and landscape designers.

Lastly, the collective CITIO (trans-disciplinary city), comprised of Lisset Escudero, Carlos Tapia, and Javier Vera, have installed furniture and domestic objects to foster an unsolicited rooftop meeting and dialogue space with which to view the surrounding neighborhood. Through their ideas and actions, CITIO develops a process of exploration and experimentation with the concepts of city and citizenship, building bridges for trans-disciplinary work from architecture and urbanism.

It is intended that the role of art in this project is to create opportunities for unconventional thinking and looking at the city in other ways, from the margins, and to return to it and recalculate the urgent challenges ahead by reflecting on this urban landscape. What the project poses as subject is related to the agendas of urban planners, neighborhood organizations, politicians, and real estate investors. To citizens who want to participate in the making of the city and the creation of active public spaces, it presents political actors working in the here and now, thinking of a direct practice for today.


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