Monument "Hilo de Agua" Houses the Homeless

The work now fulfills an unintended purpose; it acts as an expensive haven for homeless tenants during the cold winter nights.

Imagen de Katie Manning
1,664 Lecturas
18 de Agosto, 2011 23:08
Photo By: Team El Nortero

Esteemed judges from the art, business and political world presented Antofogasta, Chile, with the “Hilo de Agua” or “Trickle” for its 200th birthday. The twin 27-meter-tall slabs of copper-glazed concrete hung a steep price tag of 180 million Chilean pesos (about 382,000 US dollars or 265,000 Euros). Antofagasta, in large part, cast Trickle aside into the reject pile, and subsequently re-gifted it.

The work now fulfills an unintended purpose; it acts as an expensive haven for homeless tenants during the cold winter nights.

Last weekend, a reporter for El Nortero, Claudia López Pulgar, said she recently ran across the “wanderers.” She wrote:

 “They’re mostly people who came to look for work, but didn’t find it, or they’re beggers. They don’t necessarily have mental issues. They stay wherever they can find a place: parks, beaches, town squares. They’re here awhile then they just leave.”

While the amount of homeless people in Chile isn’t overwhelming, the Planning Ministry says that the number may have doubled in recent years. Out of a population of 17 million, there were 7,200 Chileans without a place to live in 2005 according to the ministry. Updated numbers, slated to be out next month, predict that there are now 10,000 to 15,000. 

The potential steep increase could be adding to the number of squatters at abandoned monuments and buildings in Antofagasta.

Benito Baranda, who speaks on behalf of Chileans living in poverty, said, “Today we need to talk about a new kind of poverty. Aside from the material problems, we have to think about not being able to be what you want to be, or do what you want to do.”

According to Baranda, the same interests that judged where to put the cultural monument, should refocus their energy on cultural problems plaguing Chile.

“Homelessness is a problem that involves all of society. You have to include entrepreneurs, politicians, large corporations and individuals in the solution,” he said.

At the newly finished monument, luminaries brighten up the water channel encircling the copper and slate bases of two board-like objects jutting out of the ground. Twenty-six lights creep up the sides to cast a blood-orange sheen over the mineral representing its financiers, the Xstrata Copper Company.

Antonio Sánchez, the director of the Chamber of Commerce, Services and Tourism of Antofagasta, wrote, “I don’t get why these ‘horns’ represent the Antofagastinos. At least, I hope they don’t represent us.”

Critics fault its short stature, say Trickle has two lookalikes in other cities, and complain that the municipality doesn’t keep up the monument. They say the water doesn’t trickle right. The original plan promised Antofagasta water flowing down the monument, but instead, it stagnates in a still pool.

Xstrata signed an agreement with the local government in Antafogasta to fund the project under Chile’s Cultural Donations Law, “Ley Valdés.” The law aims to generate new funding for cultural projects. It specifies that companies, like Xstrata, can deduct 50 percent of the amount donated in taxes when they fund an agreed-upon cultural work.

The winning work for Antofagasta’s bicentenial was chosen by representatives from Xstrata Copper; the director of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Santiago, Milan Ivelic; curator and sculptor Gaspar Galaz; artist Gonzalo Cienfuegos; and the regional and Antofagastan municipalities. They picked Valaparaiso artist Osvaldo Bizama Calzia, 33, as the winner of the international competition, “Concurso Internacional de Proyectos.” 

Regional Governor, Cristian Rodriguez, said the work "includes water and copper, as original and fundamental elements of the region surrounding the past, present and future planning. Therefore, we believe that the sculpture represents the community of the region, and we are very satisfied.”

Aracelli Marin commented in El Nortero that he’s less then impressed.

Trickle shows “zero knowledge of our culture and does not represent at all the effort of the people in this town. The monument shouldn’t have to be explained. It needs to be understood by itself to anyone who sees the two towers without an explanation. Once again, those in charge decided to demonstrate their lack of belonging to the region,” he said.

Since construction finished, Trickle has been a touchy topic in Antofagasta. The community hasn’t exactly embraced Trickle - or the squatters for that matter - as part of the community.



banner ingles (1)


You may be wondering, “Why do English stories keep popping up on the site? Last time I checked, people in Chile speak Spanish,” which is why we want to let you in on our not-so-secret plan to spread the word of the provinces to the outside world.

Obviously, there are local news sources covering the various provinces. Some international newspapers have foreign correspondents in Santiago. But the number of stories published outside of Chile highlighting the rich culture and diversity of the regions are few and far between. By writing in English, we aim to change that. International newspapers from the United States, India, Japan, China, France, Malaysia and more have already republished our stories about Chile. 

Check out a few of our links:

The Wall Street Journal

Global Voices in Chinese

Journal of Foreign Relations

Also, we aim to foster a deeper cultural understanding for English speakers in Chile. English-speaking Chileans get more content as an added bonus. For non-English speakers, the increased number of links means more traffic and more readers for your stories.

If you know a local story that could have a broad impact, please email me (, tweet me (@Katie_Manning), or just comment below. I’d be excited to write your stories in English.  

O en Español…

Queremos a nuestras regiones brillando de cara al mundo. Queremos a los emprendedores regionales de Chile siendo vistos y escuchados en cada rincón del planeta. Por eso, desde hoy Red Mi Voz publica también en Inglés. Porque vivimos de cara al mundo. Porque creemos en nuestros emprendedores.

Porque sabemos que las regiones de Chile tienen historias que el mundo necesita escuchar...

desde hoy Red Mi Voz publicará contenido en Inglés y en Español.

Queremos ser bilingues y así salir directamente al mundo. Queremos darles una vitrina grandiosa a los talentos que cada día tenemos la bendición de conocer en nuestros diarios. Queremos darle a las historias, paisajes, talentos y proyectos de nuestras regiones un megáfono para que el mundo los conozca. Sabemos que en el siglo XXI los ojos están puestos sobre Chile, y queremos hacernos cargo de las oportunidades que eso conlleva. Desde hoy, las regiones despegan hacia el mundo, sin escalas. 

Versión para impresiónEnviar a un amigo

Los comentarios publicados son de exclusiva responsabilidad de los ciudadanos que los emiten (con nombre, sin pseudónimos). Cualquier opinión que contenga insultos, injurias y/o calumnias no pasará el filtro de moderación.

Comentarios en Facebook

Agregar Comentario

El contenido de este campo se mantiene privado y no se mostrará públicamente.

Aqui podría estar su imagen. para registrarse, haga clic aquí.

Queremos saber si eres una persona y no un robot, por eso responde este siguiente formulario.