Modern Settlers: Leisure and Labor at Punta Ballena

Antonio Bonet, Workers’ Camp, Punta Ballena 1945 (Source: Instituto de Historia, FADU–UDELAR)
Punta Ballena is primarily known in Uruguay for the Arboretum Lussich, a late nineteenth-century assemblage of trees and birds from all over the world, and the modernist resort with Surrealist references designed in 1945–48 by Catalan architect Antonio Bonet. Between these spaces lies a third project: a workers’ camp designed by Bonet to house the construction crew that built the resort. While the arboretum and the resort sketch out a history of European modernism in Uruguay, the workers’ camp points to histories of settler colonialism and the presence of Charrúa, Guaraní, and Afro-Uruguayan populations. Together, these three sites constitute a settler colonial landscape where modernist European notions of a so-called primitive intersect with Indigenous labor and resistance. Following the work of Aymara Bolivian scholar Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, in this talk I examine how Punta Ballena informs a vision of history in which the past-future is contained in the present.  

7 February 2022
Yale School of Architecture