2022

MCHAP

Memorial Space and Monument to the 100th Anniversary of the Alcorta Farmers Revolt

oP_Opera Pūblica

Commune of Alcorta, Argentina

June 2018

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Claudio Vekstein

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Carolina Telo, Tomás del Carril, Lucia Schiappapietra, Giuliana Nieva, Provincial Department of Architecture and Engineering (DIPAI)

CLIENT

Federacion Agraria Argentina (FAA), Mr. Omar Barcheta

PHOTOGRAPHER

Federico Cairoli

OBJECTIVE

In the 100m. x 75m. land, located parallel to the Provincial Route 90, there were only 4 large exposed concrete foundations built in 1962 as part of a monumental project of sculptural figures in the style of Vera Mukhina's Soviet "socialist realism" to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the agrarian movement. The program design developed for the current occasion with the FAA Assembly through participatory collaboration, involving the Alcorta Commune, the Santa Fe Province, and the Federal Government, includes the actual Memorial, an exterior civic Plaza in connection to the monument that allows the celebration of commemorative events of the deed, an Auditorium or screening room for around 150 people, a small exhibition gallery where the historical reminder objects brought from the Argentine Provinces are located, serving as an Interpretation Center for the events that occurred in 1912.
While commissioning the project, the FAA requested to embed into the Memorial Space and Monument, the farmers and their work, the union struggle, the use and possession of the land, the cooperativism, and the democratic institutions as founding ideas. The actual 400m2 covered spaces thus not only recall but also celebrate the Alcorta Shout in a present and active way, serving as a daily gathering environment for citizens and farmers meeting, overcoming the passive, solemn, and distant traditional monument’s model of the past. These spaces construct intensely the intimate interior scale, articulated by an extensive, folded exterior element that provides monumental scale and carries the strong expressive and commemorative aesthetic content.

CONTEXT

The work celebrates the agrarian revolt carried by the small rural tenants known historically as the Alcorta Shout, a rebellion that shook the south of the Argentine Province of Santa Fe and spread throughout the Pampa “Gringa” region —as it used to be called at that time, referring to the Italian and Spanish immigrants who came to the region massively encouraged by the Argentine government to cultivate the land— and then to the rest of the country. With an epicenter in the Alcorta town Alcorta, the event marked the irruption of the farmworkers in the national politics of the XX century, giving origin at the same time to its representative union organization. The meeting where the Agrarian Strike was decided and farmers stopped sowing happened in the Italian Society of Alcorta on June 25, 1912, with the support of the Italian lawyer and legal counsel Dr. Francisco Netri. The Provincial Government intervened then in the conflict managing to bring the parties closer by means of a relative improvement in the contracting conditions. On August 15, 1912, the farmers founded the Argentine Agrarian Federation, whose main objective was to obtain leasing laws, that is, an institutional legal framework that regulated the use and possession of the land in Argentina.
In 2012, the Governments of Argentine, the Province of Santa Fe, the Alcorta Commune, and the Agrarian Federation (FAA) committed themselves to the design and construction of the Memorial in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the revolt called "The Alcorta Shout”.

PERFORMANCE

These intense and intimate interior scales are housed by an extensive exterior plane –structured by steel rhythmic porticos, frames, and modular rugged panels–, in the way of a classic scenery, tensioning a forced perspective for those tracks circulating at speed on Route 90. The massive relief recalling historic "stockpiles" of burlap sacks, rescued from the FAA Archives, materializes through a locally crafted panels’ system made out of resin reinforced with fiberglass and crude burlap molded on geometrically pixelated wooden forms. The west pavilion made out of a reinforced concrete structure and steel profiles emerges from the plowed earth while above it, on the descending terraces —accessed by an exterior ramp on the main screen and a staircase following the stepping, the vast Pampean horizon and sunsets are being contemplated.
Rough textures at different scales recover a textile and tactile grain portraying in a common language the labor engraved by the agrarian workers on the land, their tanned skins rugged as furrows, cracked by the sun, their clothes and the rough bags finally piled up in the stowage. This is reconstructed as a free stacking wall and horizontally extruding porticos that conjugate continuous sections. This fluted surface unfolds beyond the building while the lateral sectioning of the sheet metal panels reconciles the building with the horizon. The exterior plowed pampas become intimate to the interior, forming plywood furniture, extending the greatest possible exhibition surface by stretching the inner lining, wrapping the auditorium in furrowed boards, ascending grooves, and wheat ears.