Caleta María, Tierra del Fuego, Chile – Ensayo #3



28/12/2017 – 5/1/2018


Spending New Year’s Eve in Caleta María has become a sort of tradition for the researchers of Ensayo #3, however this New Year’s residency period was intentionally set to suit the production calendar of the web series Distancia.

Until weeks before we traveled to Caleta María, this particular residency period was conceived as the pre-production period (typically pre-production is understood as the process of fixing some of the elements that intervene in a film: script, places, objects, costumes, members of the cast, special effects, visual effects, etc. During pre-production the detailed agenda for the shoot is set and at some point there is a read-through of the script which is usually attended by all cast members with speaking parts, the director, all heads of departments, financiers, producers, and publicists) of the webseries. However, we did not get the grant (Fondart) we had applied for for this purpose and, very quickly, we had to re-organise our priorities.

Seeing as Distancia is a creative experiment, an ethnoficción, there were always elements of the “typical” pre-production period that we were going to leave aside so, shifting from pre-production to production was not an unfortunate exercise. Especially since the two illustrious mentors —Cecilia Vicuña and Michael Taussig— had decided to accompany us on this leg of the making of the webseries.

Ivette, who was very enthusiastic about Taussig and Vicuña’s visit suggested we invite the historian, Alberto Harambour, and the journalist, Javiera Carmona, as well. This new synergistic configuration opened up unforeseen possibilities and the residency which had been destined as a period for testing cameras, solving technical and conceptual elements of sound recording, and building rapport amongst the technical team and the cast (Ivette, Julio Gastón, amongst others) before returning to film the first season in April became the “oficial” film-shoot. So, in the spirit of Ensayos, one thing became something else which unexpectedly exceeded the pre-established objectives.

Here is a day by day description of the film-shoot (in Spanish):


Distancia emerged from the quest to channel invisibilised Fueginan stories. As a creative experiment, an ethnoficción, it has been brewing for three years. Though Carolina Saquel (artist, former-lawyer and co-director of the web series) and Camila Marambio (curator and co-director of the web series) wrote experimental scripts, that more or less describe the actions that each episode will encompass, the underlying philosophy, which they share with Ivette Martinez and Julio Gastón Contreras (stars and research participants), is to activate reflexive processes that makes unique stories emerge. Stories that want to be seen.

Ivette insists that it is extremely pertinent that we be present, attentive, and documenting Caleta María at this moment in history. She claims there is significant “memory” work that is to be done in Tierra del Fuego.


Sebastian Arce (musician) / Ariel Bustamante (sound artist) / Javiera Carmona (journalist) / Julio Gastón Contreras (doctor) / Valentina Espinoza (dancer) / Alberto Harambour (historian) / Matias Illanes (cinematographer) / Camila Marambio (curator) / Ivette Martinez (educator) / Patricia Messier (artisan) / Carolina Saquel (artist) / Michael Taussig (anthropologist) / Cecilia Vicuña (artist)


Thanks to the confluence of various personal economies: artists, academics, and independent researchers all gifted their time, energy, services, and material resources.

Travel expenses were paid thanks to the generosity of Ana María Yaconi, who has for the past four years granted Ensayos a sum of money that has become its nominal operational budget .

Food and lodging were covered by our hosts Julio Gastón Contreras and Ivette Martinez.

The Wildlife Conservation Society Chile also hosted the group at their scientific station in Vicuña.

Image credits: Drawings by Michael Taussig, Caleta María, Tierra del Fuego, Chile, 2017/2018.

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