Tierra del Fuego, Chile – Ensayo #3



November 19th – December 2nd, 2016


To revisit people and places from last year’s research period, which was the video artist Carolina Saquel’s first on the island, to draw out certain conversations and scenarios which were slowly becoming central to the question of how to televisualise the human geography of Tierra del Fuego. This time we were not accompanied by the sociologist Denise Milstein and her son Julian and instead of going directly to Caleta Maria with Ivette Martinez and Julio Gastón Contreras, we would be spending some days in the north of Isla Grande digging deeper into some of the frays of Ivette and Julio Gaston’s story. Ivette and Julio Gastón lived in Cerro Sombrero as a young married couple during Julio Gastón’s post as the town doctor. Julio Gastón also grew up in Cerro Sombrero while his own father had been stationed there working as a chemical engineer for ENAP (Empresa Nacional del Petroleo). We were also invited to join a group of international journalists hosted by WCS Karukinka to visit a unique stromatolite geopark near Porvenir and to talk to them about our work during the following day, when they too would visit Caleta María.

Our trip began in Punta Arenas were we paid a visit to the Museum Marggiorino Borgatello. This lead to an unexpected encounter with Patricia Messier, Kaweskar artisan who almost instantly became a new research participant. She guided us through the museum and the next day we met her at her house were she continued to tell us her story and we met her mother. The following year she would travel with us to Porvenir.

In Punta Arenas we were joined by the sound artist Nicolás Spencer and after all the preparations for the trip to Tierra del Fuego were ready, we loaded our rental vehicle and drove along the Straight of Magellan to the narrowest crossing point to catch the ferry that would get us to Isla Grande. We hadn’t expected to find a long line of Argentinian trucks, headed to Ushuaia, also waiting to cross the Straight. The traffic delayed our arrival to Tierra del Fuego for hours and it wasn’t until after midnight that we drove in to Cerro Sombrero, the small township run by ENAP. Luckily, Juan Carlos Vergara, the Director of ENAP was still awake, aware of our set back, and despite our tardiness jovially showed us to the rooms that the archeologist Alfredo Prieto (UMAG) had arranged for us to sleep in. Our pretext was to record the wind and Juan Carlos asked that we present ourselves in the morning at his office so we could be given safety instructions and to further explain ourselves. This affair ended up being very pleasant and comical. We were basically given full access and drop offed at the top of the hill (Cerro) where the antennas and powerlines meet and where wind is the strongest. There we recorded for days.

After this, we drove to Porvenir (capital of Chilean TdF) to meet up with Alfredo Prieto and visit the cordillera Santa Marta
20 a alguna hora prudente emprendamos viaje a la TDF, cruzando el estrecho por Punta Delgada para llegar a Cerro Sombrero en la noche. Alojar allí el 20, el 21 explorar la zona, alojar nuevamente allí y la mañana siguiente, 22, dirigirnos a Porvenir. En Porvenir nos juntamos con Alfredo Prieto, arqueólogo, paseamos, y luego atenderemos a una charla que el dará allí. Alojamos y el día siguiente tu estarías a cargo de regresar el auto arrendado a Punta Arenas. La barcaza sale a las 14hrs y demora 2 horas. Podemos arreglar para que esté lo devuelvas al aeropuerto o a la ciudad dependiendo de tu salida. Yo y Carolina Saquel seguiremos hacía el sur con otro grupo.



Because some stories want to be told.


Julio Gastón Contreras (doctor) / Camila Marambio (curator) / Ivette Martinez (educator) Alfredo Prieto (archeologist) / Carolina Saquel (artist) / Nicolás Spencer (sound artist)


Thanks to all our local research partners: Andrés Fernandez, WCS Chile, Ivette Martinez, Julio Gastón Contreras, Julio Contreras Martinez, and Alfredo Prieto, who house us, feed us, drive us around, lend us their tools, teachi\ us about the region and its history, share their personal stories, and get involved in our joint research drifts.

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