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  • Writer's pictureMarce Paz

Volunteer Park Exhibit

From July 26th to August 7th, 2020.

This year we hosted our second exhibit, It felt amazing to bring this art and photos at the Volunteer Park this pasted July! We loved the process of this project and we're proud of doing resistance from Seattle✊🏽💜. Here a little of context for this great exhibit.

Since October 18th 2019, Chile has experienced a social and political crisis of unmatched intensity since the dictatorship under Pinochet. Protests for social justice sprung up all over the country, gathering millions of people for the largest demonstrations in Chile’s history and uniting a wide variety of communities in a common struggle for urgently needed changes. Over the course of six months, people took to the streets for cacerolazos, banging pots and pans with wooden spoons, marching, singing, and dancing. Street walls became the people's bulletin boards where they used humor and talent to present their demands: economic and social equality, improved educational, medical, and social services, proper retirement and care for the elderly, respect for children’s, women’s, and human rights, respect for native cultures, environmental justice, rights for water… issues that had been brushed off during the thirty years of so-called “democratic transition”. These problems have only recently begun to be addressed by congressional representatives, resulting in changes such as revisions to the 1980 Constitution of Chile, which was authored to expand and legitimize dictatorial power.

Walls are nonetheless whitened, and then written over again, and whitened and written on again. They have become a stubborn, reincarnating palimpsest that is also a symptom of a polarized society. Demonstrations have been repressed and confronted with the most disproportionate police brutality. Meanwhile, President Piñera’s administration has remained deaf to the people’s demands, even denying the ongoing health and humanitarian crisis, rejecting Human Rights Reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN that expressed concern for the systematic and generalized abuse of the police forces, that have not only illegally detained, tortured, sexually abused and injured hundreds of persons, but also have caused an ophthalmological crisis with no precedents in human history, causing severe eye trauma to over 450 civilians with anti-riot guns.

Chile Woke emerges from this context, as a curatorial platform created with the purpose to show, on one hand, what the media are not showing, by recognizing the valuable work of photographers that risk their physical integrity by participating in these events and documenting what is going on – from the beauty of a society coming together for common good, to the repression and violence that must be denounced. The photos here presented are a small sample of the varied expressions that have taken form during this revolt, as well as portraying a variety of individuals that embody this collective struggle.

On the other hand, understanding the importance of all art forms, we observe they become particularly relevant in situations of social turmoil – especially when combined with a generalized disbelief in political parties and representatives. Given its means of design, reproduction and circulation, and having abandoned its advertising value and assuming a political role, posters tell stories, represent the hopes, dreams and failures of a society . Art has the power to synthesize collective emotions, to call upon the public, and engage in a reflexive exchange. What can be more charged of emotion and complex in levels of affection than life in a society that is questioning its political structures? Graphic artists are managing to process and give a visible form to the multiple dimensions that have been affected by this collective awakening, a work that we feel must be taken into account, valued and shared as a means of reimagining society.

Finally, our intention is to promote dialogue, to motivate further conversations on the deep implications of what it means to live together, not just in a country, but in a world that is aching for changes, where old political models seem to have reached their obsolescence, and we no longer know what to think or do about it. We are observing the emergence of what seemed to be a long-lost community, of the people that have come together imagining new ways of organization and understanding, while marching the streets or sitting down in cabildos (assemblies) for long conversations. Being mindful of our social and natural environment, listening to each other, freely expressing dissent, sharing and respecting diverse ways of learning, loving and living: that is how we want to design the future.

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