The Galería Metropolitana is a unique art space in Santiago because of its location, construction, theoretical programming, and exhibition practice. Founded in 1998 by Luis Alarcón and Ana María Saveedra, who continue as directors, the gallery is physically connected to their house, which is in the working-class neighborhood of Pedro Aguirre Cerda on the outskirts of the city. Designed as a small warehouse, the gallery and home share a common wall-window-door that provides a flow of space between the two areas, underscoring the long-held ideal of conjoining art and life.
The gallery defines itself as a space and an action that is part of its larger metropolitan community as well as its local neighborhood. It insinuates itself into the larger artistic community through its ongoing exhibition programming, which over the years has gained considerable critical importance. It reaffirms its special place in the Pedro Aguirre Cerda neighborhood by participating in a range of cultural, social, and political organizations. The directors remain firm in their insistence on continuing the art-life dialogue not only through their exhibition programming but also through their outreach in the neighborhood. By both written communication and word of mouth, the gallery’s directors attempt to interest and involve their neighbors in exhibitions and workshops focusing on writing and literature as well as the arts. Through the gradual process of connecting the neighborhood’s residents with diverse artistic events, the Galería Metropolitana is successfully establishing a cultural foothold in a community that would otherwise be uninvolved in (or peripheral to) the kinds of cultural dialogues the directors have attempted to raise or the directors have engaged in.
By virtue of its location and its theoretical practice, the Galería Metropolitana operates at the extreme center of the experimental circuit of noncommercial art spaces that have consistently promoted the innovative work of an emerging group of artists. In so doing, the gallery has challenged prevailing notions of periphery and center as these two concepts are continually redefined in art and life.