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further south than the south


1.0 The Chilean project in Unión Glacier is based on the integration of the capacities of the four national antarctic operators, generating a platform in the interior of the continent for the development of scientific, technological, and polar investigation and cultural research. 


2.0 Being historically uninhabited entails that Antarctica is a map populated by imported names that are superimposed from other continents. However Chile is the closest country to Antarctica, and has the capacity to name it in a culturally continuous way, by  introducing a phonetic of the southernmost language in the world, that of the yamana culture.


3.0 the yamana word ILAIA designates a situational concept  signifying  "beyond the south". We know this from the dictionary produced in the 19th century by Tomas Bridges during his extensive investigation into the culture of this ethnic group. The actualization of the potential of this cultural sign was proposed through its inscription onto Unión Glacier as the name of the joint polar station. The intention was to generate a symbolic action that would increase the interest and identification of the chilean people with the continent and the national activity that is undertaken on it.


4.0 In a collective poetic action the word ILAIA was traced  in the snow using the ice one font and the bodies of the members of the chilean mission. This graphic inscription immersed  in the vastness of the union glaciar was recorded by a remotely controlled light aircraft, inaugurating a new format for the integration of science culture and technology in the constitution of an emerging Chilean Antarctic Culture.


5.0 The photographic register of the  ILAIA action  was passed to journalists from the Mercurio newspaper who visited the station a week before its inauguration in December 2013. The images were published in the newspaper two days later with the explicit intention of communicating to the relevant authorities that the members of the mission believed that ILAIA was the indicated name for the new station. Unfortunately the President of the republic was not permeable to this communicational action, and arrived three days later to unveil a plaque with the institutional and rather closed name of  “The Glacial Union joint scientific polar station”


6.0 The ILAIA action did however bear fruit in the more receptive scientific community. In 2017 the Chilean National Antarctic Institute inaugurated a new english language publication of their antarctic research, and they named the magazine ILAIA. With impeccable scientific protocol they made explicit reference to the origin of the name in the poetic action undertaken at Glaciar Union in 2014. In the words of the then director Jose Retamales :


At some point in the development of their culture, the Yamana must have felt the need to give expression to that which was beyond the southern limits of their known universe. Perhaps through intuition or through experience, they thought of "Ilaia".

Now then, with the helping hand of science, we invite you to travel south of the south.



7.0 project credits


design team   paola vezanni + pol taylor      

                        manuel sanfentes [ice one font] +

                        comandante miguel figueroa [logistical direction]

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