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"Memoria Urbana" 
  Memoria Urbana
(Urban Memory)
Anna Nicholson

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Competition Guidelines
Town of Guayama
About the Area

Traditional town centers are the urban counterpart of the rural imaginary, prevalent, as a rule, in representations of Puerto Rican identity. The transformation of a rural economy into an industrial one after the 1950s, favored other settlement forms, particularly suburban developments spurred by the potential of the automobile. At present, urban centers compete with shopping mega-structures. Having experienced substantial population losses in the last decades, they are now reduced to mere service centers.

The Project for the Revitalization of Traditional Urban Centers of the Department of Urbanism, promotes the qualitative regeneration of public space as the first step of a resettlement strategy. This initiative has offered artists a vast stock of public spaces and buildings, as a means of adding art to the heart of island towns. Such works should celebrate the characteristics of each town without falling prey to nostalgia or a false reconciliation with populist expressions. The selected works evidence a vast array of formats and themes, that range from the praise of natural landscape to bolder visions, committed to the future of these strongholds of everyday life in Puerto Rico.

Artist: Anna Nicholson
Title: Memoria urbana ( Urban Memory )
Site: New entrance to Guayama's urban center
Dimensions: 40 feet x 5 feet in diameter
Materials: Concrete terra-cotta-covered base, and fretted stainless-steel 3/8 in. thick plates

In Puerto Rico, the short distances between towns encourage the practice of traveling throughout the island. In such travels we collect memories of the different elements that contribute to the make-up of each municipality. Such elements are a part of ordinary life, and shape its cultural and social value in a unique way.

Guayama has an organized urban fabric, and a rich architectural stock of well-preserved houses in their original form. This is evident in the balconies, doors, windows, iron work and other details. Such items arose the interest of Anna Nicholson, who chose as the subject for her work the windows or fanlights over the main doors. Better known as soles truncos ("broken suns"), these features are characterized by their geometry, fine fretwork and diverse sizes. The idea for this work arose in conversations between the artist and the residents of these houses, who expressed their interest in preserving this particular ornamental feature of the façades as a symbol of identity.

Hence, the proposal for Urban Memory is a plastic representation of memory, in a form reminiscent of a fan embroidered with   memories. Remarkably, the filigree-like work produces an airy structure that lets light into the sculpture. This function is a legacy of the "soles truncos", that let light in.

Anna Nicholson has conceived a unique sculptural work, specifically made for Guayama, not as an alien object imposed on the city but as an element unifying the references and identities of a people. Although the architectural features of fanlights are not local, they do seem distinctive. This structure shall have an immediate, as well as a long-term influence, not only by its interaction with contemporary spectators, who will fill it with memories of their own, but also by influencing the reaction of future spectators to their built environment. Only thus will Urban memory have accomplished its purpose.

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