PROCEEDINGS OF THE

INTERAMERICAN SYMPOSIUM ON AUTHENTICITY
IN THE CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF CULTURAL HERITAGE

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, USA MARCH, 1996

Charter of Brasilia
Regional Document on Authenticity of the Southern Cone Countries Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Adopted at the V Regional Meeting of ICOMOS Brasil

INTRODUCTION: We, the ICOMOS members of the countries of the Southern Cone feel the need to present the topic of authenticity from our peculiar regional reality, different from that of European and Oriental countries with long national traditions, as our identity has undergone changes, impositions and transformations that generated two complementary processes: the affirmation of a syncretic culture and a culture of resistance. If we spring from the fact that the human activity directed at shaping our environment has at times been characterized as the image of a social reality expressed through tangible and intangible resources, then we must begin by analyzing the way we organize those images. Immediately, we confirm that in this process, we always operate in two basic dimensions: identity and diversity. It is thus that we organize and interpret our actions upon nature and society, that we plant our crops, that we build our houses, our cities, our landscapes; that we write our books and paint our paintings. To each of these we assign meaning and value, and in this fashion, we build our culture, which must be understood as the totality of the creative actions of a society. And in this way, we begin to treasure our cultural heritage. AUTHENTICITY AND IDENTITY In the middle of the last century, Juan Bautista Alberdi said that "to pursue development is to acquire one's own civilization, perhaps imperfect, but never to copy alien civilizations even though more advanced. Each people must have its age and its soil, each people must be itself..." In the case of our Latin American people, and more specifically those that constitute the Southern Cone, it is possible to distinguish several heritages. The first, derived from the Pre-Columbian, is the Indigenous contribution; the second is the initial European legacy; the third is the Creole or Mestizo, to which was added the African contribution; and finally, the legacy of the diverse immigrations that began at the end of the 19th century.

UNITED STATES NATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL ON MONUMENTS AND SITES COMITÉ NATIONAL DES ETATS UNIS DU CONSEIL INTERNATIONAL DES MONUMENTS ET DES SITES

PROCEEDINGS OF THE

INTERAMERICAN SYMPOSIUM ON AUTHENTICITY
IN THE CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF CULTURAL HERITAGE

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, USA MARCH, 1996

Like our genes, these legacies are always present in the form of cosmic visions or values, even though at times we may try to exalt one or more of them in detriment of the others. We must be aware of all of them, conquering them through an effort in understanding, knowledge and acceptance. The authenticity of these values is manifest, supported and preserved in the veracity of the heritage that we receive and that we transmit. By doing so, we avow that that degree of authenticity inherent in each legacy must be dimensioned as a function of these legacies. This way, none will have the right to be considered unique or legitimate. None will have the right to exclude others. Together, they all will make us become what we are meant to be. They will enrich our range of values and at the same time set the example for respect towards cultural diversity. We understand identity as a way to belong and to participate. That is how we are capable of finding our place, our name and our image, not by contrast, but by discovering real links that tie us to those others with whom we share one and the same culture. The above said, it leads us to pose certain questions that demand answers: Where do we belong and in what do we participate? And this question about belonging takes us face to face with the search for historical identity, with valuing the cultural tradition of our people. And thus we face inseparably the double belonging, which makes our search for or own identity all the more complex. The topic of authenticity traverses through that of identity, which is changing and dynamic, and which has the power to adapt, value, devalue and again revalue the formal aspects of our heritage and its symbolic content. There is no single identity in any one country, and there can be conflicting identities. National identities are still in the process of becoming, which makes it difficult to establish fixed and invariable criteria for that which is "authentic." We must accept the diverse composition of identity in our countries, which is not hierarchically inferior to the homogeneity of other cultures. As such, we must recognize the values of the majorities and the minorities, not only of the dominant cultures, but also of the methods to resist those forces. The different currents that make up a society can be read differently depending on time and space, but are equally valid, and must be considered at the time when authenticity is judged. AUTHENTICITY AND MESSAGE The meaning of the word authenticity is intimately linked to the concept of truth. That which is authentic is also that which is true, that can be considered certain, that presents no doubt. Buildings and sites carry a message or an argument whose value within a specific socio-cultural context, and given its understanding and acceptance by the community, converts them into patrimony. Based on this principle, we may affirm that a resource is authentic when there is correspondence between the material object and its meaning. It is worthwhile to insist on the topic of meaning and message of the cultural resource. The goal of preserving memory and its cultural manifestations must be approached by aiming to enrich humanity spiritually, beyond the material aspect. The tangible support must not be the sole goal of conservation. We must conserve the original message of the resource when it has not been transformed, and thus, has survived in time; as well as the different layered messages that are equally rich to the original and that resulted from the interaction between the resource and new and diverse cultural circumstances. This means adopting a dynamic and

UNITED STATES NATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL ON MONUMENTS AND SITES COMITÉ NATIONAL DES ETATS UNIS DU CONSEIL INTERNATIONAL DES MONUMENTS ET DES SITES

PROCEEDINGS OF THE

INTERAMERICAN SYMPOSIUM ON AUTHENTICITY
IN THE CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF CULTURAL HERITAGE

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, USA MARCH, 1996

evolving process. Therefore, authenticity addresses also those vicissitudes undergone by the resource throughout its history but that have not eradicated its nature. It is imperative to make all communities aware of the meaning of authenticity in the cultural heritage, by providing the means for its correct knowledge and evaluation, its protection and conservation; and by promoting its artistic and spiritual enjoyment as well as its educational use, where historic memory, testimonials and cultural continuity are the common root. AUTHENTICITY AND CONTEXT Conserving the authenticity of urban districts with heritage value includes the retention of its socio-cultural content, improving the quality of life of their inhabitants. The equilibrium between building and context is fundamental, both in an urban and a rural setting. A rupture in this relationship would threaten authenticity. Therefore, it is necessary to create special norms that will maintain the primitive setting whenever possible or generate harmonious relationships among massing, texture and color. AUTHENTICITY AND MATERIALS An important portion of our heritage, especially in our traditional and vernacular architecture, is made of materials that are by nature ephemeral, such as earth, vegetable elements, wood, etc. In these cases, the renewal of evolving practices with cultural continuity, such as the substitution of certain elements by using traditional techniques, constitutes an authentic response. We also consider this a valid action in areas or zones with seismic or climatic risk. DEGREE OF AUTHENTICITY Another aspect that must be taken into consideration is the degree of authenticity in a resource, and the qualification of its authenticities in relation to the forces that gave it its origin : in the spatial, functional, constructive , and decorative aspects, etc. It will vary, for each architecture: colonial, industrial, academicist, eclectic, modern, etc., but always will be sustained through the correct interpretation of the resources on the basis of research, consultation and discussion. CONSERVING AUTHENTICITY In defining parameters for a strategy to conserve authenticity, we must bear in mind the identification of local cultural traditions; respect and valorization of these traditions, in a general way and for its specific components, and the study of the most adequate techniques to preserve all its authenticities. Contemporary treatments must rescue the character of the building or site, reinforcing its authenticity without transforming its essence and balance, avoiding extraordinary actions and enhancing its values. The introduction of new uses in heritage buildings is feasible inasmuch there exist a previous recognition of the building as such, plus a precise diagnostic as to what treatments the building can bear and accept. In all cases, the quality of the treatments is fundamental, and all new elements introduced must be both reversible and harmonious with the whole. In heritage buildings and sites, façadism, theatrical effects, fragmentations, collages and internal gutting are not recommended, as they lead to the loss of the resource's intrinsic authenticity.

UNITED STATES NATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL ON MONUMENTS AND SITES COMITÉ NATIONAL DES ETATS UNIS DU CONSEIL INTERNATIONAL DES MONUMENTS ET DES SITES

PROCEEDINGS OF THE

INTERAMERICAN SYMPOSIUM ON AUTHENTICITY
IN THE CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF CULTURAL HERITAGE

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, USA MARCH, 1996

FINAL REFLECTIONS Submerged in the post-modern culture, and characterized by globalization and homogenization, mass consumerism, superficiality and segmentation, these past decades have resulted in a strong mass culture that weakens our national and our regional identities. This situation presents enormous challenges in preserving the authenticity of our architectural;, urban and rural heritage, that we must meet to guarantee that this legacy of messages and products will reach those that will come after us. Brasilia, 8 December 1995 Signed: Maria de las Nieves Arias Incolla, ICOMOS Executive Committee Member Maturino Luz, Delegate of ICOMOS Brasil Paulo Ormindo, Vice President, ICOMOS Brasil Carlos Moreno, Delegate, ICOMOS Argentina Maria Teresa Gaona, President ICOMOS Paraguay Jose Luis Livni, Delegate ICOMOS-Uruguay (Committee under organization) Edwin Binda, President ICOMOS Chile

UNITED STATES NATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL ON MONUMENTS AND SITES COMITÉ NATIONAL DES ETATS UNIS DU CONSEIL INTERNATIONAL DES MONUMENTS ET DES SITES

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