The island was a huge ground where everyone could be seen, ever.
More than sixty years closed, the old jail seems erased from the memory, forgotten stories, just rebuilt, and a lost file, burned in one of the many fires, speak very little of what happened. But still, no one seems to escape.
Colonize and establish parcels of sovereignty. These were the State’s objectives when they approached “this territory at risk”. Adriana Bustos recalls these circumstances. Argentina simply followed the example of Australia – an interesting link, as it is also an island.
As she recalls:
Since the end of the eighteenth century, England and France had already used the transport of prisoners to populate distant islands with convicted felons. This model used by developing modern cities, was an appealing way to decongest the increasing criminal population, by simply removing them from the urban centres.
The prison is also the story of Ushuaia. The prison gave birth to the city and with it life in confinement. This symbiosis is part of the enduring question of the relationship between inside/outside. Surrounded by physical obstacles, imprisonment makes escape an almost impossible experience. And even though the prison closed its doors in 1947, and reopened then as historical museum in 1984, the building still seems to emanate the sense of its original purpose, evoking its isolated setting at the end of the world.
Bustos proposal was to take up again the history, which had silently crept into the life of the inhabitants of the island, and to create a flying object in order to escape. A home-made machine “modernized as if it were a new Icaro, escaping always in summer, but frustrated and unachievable due to adversity of the implacable outdoors, surrounded by immense mountains, impenetrable forests, and a temperamental, cold sea.”