The Victor Manuel flea market is not only a historic structure hosting over a thousand storekeepers with wide range of products, but it has also stood out for its significant cultural contribution. Its architectural heritage is just one aspect of its cultural richness. It has consistently served as an inclusive and welcoming platform for all forms of culture in our country, making it a key cultural hub in the community.
In this context, a recovery project started in 2016. It is based on the intervention of the spaces of this site of architectural and historical interest through urban art and the development of an active cultural agenda. The venue has been transformed into the most important urban art circuit located inside a building in Santiago de Chile and has become a cultural center for the southern area of the capital.
This project is not only innovative but also integrative in all the dimensions that it encompasses: commercial, artistic, gastronomic, and cultural; it allows culture and art to be brought closer to all social segments and different generations.
As a result of the aforementioned actions, the Victor Manuel flea market was the winner of the Premio Nacional de Innovación (AVONNI) in the "Culture" category in 2019. It should be noted that the AVONNI, National Innovation Award, is the most important honorific recognition in Chile, which seeks to make visible successful stories that are creating value through innovation in different areas.
Cultural wealth of the Víctor Manuel flea market.
The building that homes the iconic Victor Manuel flea market is of historical and industrial significance and dates back from the beginning of the 20th century. It was built to house a tannery and a factory for leather and footwear. The building has been converted organically since its inception, becoming an important part of the Franklin neighborhood. It is also related to the slaughterhouse and the distinctive Huemul neighborhood.
The mutation of the building’s use from a leather factory to a flea market has meant a series of changing needs, the requirement of new spaces and new issues that have meant an important indoor and outdoor transformation during the last decades.
Cultural events Agenda.
Interview to: Mono González / Book “Retratos del Persa Víctor Manuel” ("Portraits of the Víctor Manuel flea market").
Name: Alejandro Mono González.
Store name: Galería Taller Del Mono.
N° of store: 204
El Mono González is a Chilean artist and set designer, recognized in the national and international art scene for his great career and colorful artwork in murals that tackle social themes. Many of his artworks portray faces of immigrants and indigenous people from the Amazon and, according to what he says, he uses multiple colors "to raise the spirits of Chileans".
Alejandro, why did you set up the Taller del Mono Gallery in the flea market?
The idea of my gallery is not only to exhibit works of art but also to talk about engravings and different printmaking techniques. This is an idea from a workshop I saw in Marseille in warehouses just like these ones, and the idea is that people can see how the product they like is made.
What products do you sell?
I sell silk screen prints, woodcuts, and engravings. I’d like to highlight that I never edit more than 100 pieces of art, even now I am making 50 silk screen prints only, basically because I want to provide exclusivity, so that only 50 people have that specific design. The idea is not to make many copies of the same artwork, but to bring variety. We are also making the gallery sponsor exhibitions in cultural centers outside this commune, for instance, we have taken exhibitions to Puente Alto, we were also in San Joaquin, we are now taking one to Puerto Natales, all thanks to the bonds and contacts we have made at the flea market. The flea market is more than a business, it is a place of bonds.
And where was your workshop before?
My workshop was in my house, but here I'm taking advantage of other things. It’s interesting at the flea market that we are in a warehouse where other products are sold, for instance, CDs, movies, games. So, people come to the flea market looking for those products and then, they find this gallery. This is a gallery to spread popular art.
What generation are the people who visit your gallery?
There are older people who are professionals, who buy works of art, or who are collectors, but there are also young people, recent graduates, professionals, etc., who are setting up their houses or apartments and are investing in buying art, either because they saw murals in the streets or because they know my name. The people that come are very interesting.
Besides, due to your career, you already have a defined audience...
Yes, there are many people who come from abroad, from Spain, France, Italy, the United States and Canada.
How did you become known in the art world?
I studied art, and I am a set designer. I used to make sets for cinema and television. I am known in the film industry, I made the set design of some movies like "Machuca", "La Fiebre del Loco", "La Frontera", among others.
Did you live abroad for a while?
No, but I travel a lot. I have painted several times in France, Spain, and Canada. I have painted murals in international museums.
Is there a country that has inspired your work?
Yes, Italy. I've been there several times. I've traveled, I've nourished myself, I've learned, and I've also made friends, many friends.
Do you enjoy yourself at the flea market?
I am entertained. If I were at home on a Saturday or Sunday, I'd be bored. Here I talk all day long.
How do you see the projection of the flea market as a pole of urban art? Do you see potential?
Of course, there is potential because of the people. Urban art is characterized by being in a place where there is a large audience. In globalized contexts there is a lot of exchange.
Have you always been involved in the art world?
Yes, always. With sacrifice. There are many people who ask me why I'm not working abroad, and I tell them "this is my country", it's my home. I used to come to this neighborhood every weekend to shop. This is an old man's project to complete life cycles.
Is it like going back to the origin?
Exactly. That has to do with territorial identities.
What message would you give to people to come and see your work?
The first thing they will find is that we’ll be able to chat, that is to say, they will be able to talk directly to the creator. I invite them to ask me questions and I can get to know them too. Explain them the pieces of art, the techniques. It is a gallery that disseminates, but also educates... and I learn as well.
Institutions that have worked with us