On a basic level, the demolition of the prison, contracted out by the city government of Buenos Aires to the Argentine military, is the seed for the artwork. The building was slated for demolition in 2001, but the process has been subject to various legal, environmental and bureaucratic roadblocks. The original plan was to implode the building in three steps. But the implosion was stopped at the last minute by a group of neighbors concerned about the possibility of damaging environmental effects, including asbestos poisoning and the possibility of driving millions of rats out of the tunnels they occupy underneath the prison. Instead, Caseros was demolished by mechanical means, floor by floor, from the top down.
The project connects to Argentinian history. Aparecido is the past participle for the Spanish verb aparecer, to appear. Its second meaning is apparition or ghost. It may also refer in an oblique way to Argentina's Dirty War, in which political prisoners were thrown out of airplanes over the Atlantic Ocean. These political prisoners were known as “los desaperecidos.” “Sixteen Tons” is the name of a popular song written in the late 1940s. It referred to the amount of coal a miner was expected to load in a day, but in this context may refer to the amount of glass broken out through the installation, or de-installation, process.
By making the visibility of the aparecidos dependent on the daily, monthly, and yearly lunar and solar cycles, and the position of the viewer on the ground, Wulsin connects the ugly history of the prison to the larger cycle of cosmic movement. As the building disappeared through the demolition processes, viewers were exposed to hidden dimensions of place and physical history.
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