In an installation that stood for peace, artist Sebastian Errazuriz transformed a football stadium into a public park. Chile’s National Stadium was once the site of horrific genocide, a place where former dictator Augusto Pinochet imprisoned and killed thousands of political prisoners in 1973. To honor those lives lost, Errazuriz took over the playing field and planted a 33 foot magnolia in its center, opening the space as a temporary public park he called “the Tree Memorial of a Concentration Camp”.

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For one week, visitors and locals could take advantage of the grassy splendor of the National Stadium. Rather than limit the space to soccer games, guests were invited to lounge, picnic, or sit under the lush bows of the sprawling magnolia tree. As they relaxed, they were also asked to remember the souls that were held captive in the very same space that is now at the heart of soccer in Chile.

The national sport was even returned to the stadium during the art installation occupation. With 20,000 fans watching, a traditional soccer match was held, with players kicking and running around the symbolic magnolia, treating it as if it were just another member of the opposition.

After two years of petitioning and writing in for proper permits, Errazuriz finally gained access to the stadium for his installation. Entirely funded by the artist, the living tree was transported on sight, where it was planted in the center of the playing field. The settling of the magnolia marked the opening of the new temporary park, and guests were asked to experience the sports field in a different way: honoring the fallen citizens of their past.

+ Sebastian Errazurriz