Orientation trips
The Mondriaan Fund organises orientation trips for visual artists and mediators to Asia, Latin America and Africa since 2004. The trips are aimed at exchange and cooperation between visual art professionals.

At the Centro Gabriela Mistral we met Alejandra Wood, executive director. The building has a very special history: built in 1972 by Allende’s government as a conference center, artists took part to the project with sometimes perennial works, which constitute the collection of GAM that counts around 35 works. After an international conference in 1972 discussing how a country can come to socialism by elections, the building served shortly as a cultural centre, but after the coup in 1973 the building served for military purposes. In 2010 GAM opened as it is today: a cultural center dedicated to music, dance and theatre. It also has a gallery hall dedicated to photography and to the artists who are part of the building’s historical collection.

Today one of the main missions and challenges of GAM is to develop audiences. This is really important: the artistic director is also the head of education department! This question seems specially burning here because of the symbolic barrier that remains between the public and the cultural institutions – due to a lack of education says Alejandra Wood. So GAM develops a lot of activities in order to break the barriers: dance marathon, yoga classes, etc. The objective is that a person comes and come back again. Apparently GAM is successful as it has 1.7 million visitors per year!

The program is built around 3 main topics: memory, the future of the country and the territory. Each year a more focused theme is elaborated in relation to the actuality of the country – for example the anniversary of the coup 2 years ago. After an call open to the Chilean artists, dance or theatre companies, GAM chooses relevant projects and includes them in the program – it makes 70% of it! A good way to involve people and stay updated about the newest projects in the country…

One more thing: the centre is called after Gabriela Mistral, a Chilean poet who won the Nobel prize at a time when women couldn’t vote in Chile, and who was very engaged for the education! She is mainly known abroad (as she worked specially in Mexico) but surprisingly still little known in Chile.

Isaline Vuille