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James Reynolds in Chile
Outside the glasshouse onlookers argue and wait in vain for a glimpse of its sole inhabitant
 real 28k

Saturday, 29 January, 2000, 15:16 GMT
Uproar over glasshouse girl's public shower

The project has attracted plenty of interest

By James Reynolds in Santiago

All it takes to create some controversy is a young woman and some glass walls.

In the centre of the Chilean capital Santiago an actress has decided to live for two weeks in a house made of glass.

Daniella Tobar was forced to suspend her stay

It's part of an art project which has attracted tremendous attention in Chile, not least because the actress has performed many usually private duties in public.

The house - just 6m by 2m has three rooms: a bathroom, a kitchen and a bedroom.

It's been put up at the back of a small plot of land behind a high fence.

The house is right in the centre of town - it is opposite a church and is just a few streets away from the presidential palace.

Showering attention

The project really caught the public's interest on its first day when Daniella Tobar decided to take a shower in full view of several photographers and a number of rather astonished passers-by.

Protesters have made their opposition felt

The photographs were then printed on the front page of most Chilean newspapers.

And from then on, hundreds of people - mostly men - began to gather outside the house.

For many Chileans the glass house has come as a shock.

This is a conservative country in which many of the censorship laws passed during the military government still survive.

In Chile we have a Victorian morality
The sight of a woman living in full public view has pleased some - who say it is a sign of a free society.

"It's a good idea because in Chile we have a Victorian morality," says one onlooker outside the house.

"And this is a very great shock for everybody. It will help us to progress as a country."

"This could never have happened during the dictatorship," adds a young man.

"Soldiers would have taken the house down in five minutes!"


But the project has angered others who say it's a sign of moral degradation.

Shower in your own home
Across the road from the house, outside the church, a handful of protestors wave placards in disapproval.

One woman holds up a sign which reads: "Daniella - go and shower in your own home not outside my home - signed Jesus.

"And authorities - put the glass house somewhere else not in front of our church !"

The organisers say the project is designed to show an ordinary person living a day-to-day life - a life no different from anyone else's except for the fact that it's lived behind glass walls not brick walls.

No more showers

Such has been the interest in the glass house that Daniella Tobar has been unable to return since Wednesday - for fear of harassment from the crowd.

The actress also has her admirers

In an attempt to calm a rather heated atmosphere, the project's organisers have said that she won't take any more showers in front of the public.

Some now say that what started as an attempt to prove the country's liberation has ended up as a circus.

Soon, the glasshouse will be dismantled and taken across the Andes mountains to the Argentine capital Buenos Aires.

And the debate about a life lived in public will begin all over again.

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