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The "indiano" Legacy

Betanzos
Location El parque del Pasatiempo
Period 2018 - ...

How can we enter into dialogue with historical philanthropic work?

Between the late 19th century and the first third of the 20th century, some returned indianos (Spanish emigrants who became rich in Latin America) financed the building of the public encyclopaedic Pasatiempo park, as well as a community centre, a wash house, schools, an almshouse, and a home for the elderly, in their hometown of Betanzos (A Coruña). The emigrants’ social commitment has left a legacy that speaks to us of heritage, learning, leisure, freemasonry, and philanthropy, and also of other migrations today, in which Galicia also welcomes immigrants. Through this Concomitancia, we want to pay tribute to these acts of social justice through philanthropy and to think about returning emigrants and their contribution to improving well-being. We also want to question why we have been unable to properly look after a legacy that addresses us and is in constant dialogue with the contemporary world.

Galicia is a quintessential region of emigration. In fact, the Galician anthem and flag debuted in Havana in 1907, and in 2015 more than 168,000 Galicians lived in Argentina (which is why Buenos Aires has always been considered Galicia’s fifth province). This exodus, which began in the mid-19th century, has shaped lives, imaginaries, and even the territory itself. Among the manifestations of emigration are the poetics of return that emerged with the indianos through their philanthropic works scattered throughout Galicia.
In the late 19th century, these returned emigrants donated part of their earnings to building schools that still survive today: an estimated 250 schools and educational centres were created in that period. This philanthropic spirit was exemplified by the García Naveira brothers, who became important benefactors when they returned to Betanzos from Argentina, creating an "encyclopaedic park" and several other public works.
Pasatiempo park is one of the emblematic constructions of Galician emigration, and this is reflected in its iconography. The park, which now covers 10,000 square meters (of the original 70,000 square meter grounds) includes the city's iconic family tree, sculptures such as the statue of Charity, the Retiro pond, and a model of the Mosque of Mohamed Ali in Cairo, as well as grottos and caves that wind through this initiation park.
The values, beliefs, and stories that emerge in the park have connections to our contemporary world. Rather than a historical reading, we are interested in a resignification that reads the present through memory.
To consider this story and the eventual artistic production, the Concomitancia begins with an initial participatory research-action exercise that will explore the community's desires regarding the production of an artwork. The entire mediation process will be based on an open call for participation through constant listening and attention. A series of activities will be carried out to generate an ecosystem from which to weave together this project, which will also be an open discussion forum on the Pasatiempo park, philanthropy, and migrations.

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