Records of Resistance: Documenting Global Activism 1933 to 2021, Princeton University Library’s latest exhibition, includes images that range from sacred Passover Haggadot that embody Jews’ spiritual resistance to their oppressors during and immediately after the Holocaust, to dramatic photographs of marchers on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965, to vibrant posters, pamphlets and photographs created by protesters taking to the streets of Lahore, Pakistan and Santiago, Chile, only a few years ago.
The exhibition content originating in Chile relates to the nation-wide mass protests known as the Estallido Social (social outburst), a series of nation-wide mass protests that went on steadily from October 2019 to March 2020 and made painfully visible the deep social discontent of broad sectors of Chilean society.
No abandonamos la calle. La primera línea dando cara a la historia (We are not abandoning the streets. The front-line confronting history), 2019-2020. Poster. Artist unknown. Latin American Ephemera Collection.
The posters included in the exhibit evoke the wide ranging nature of the social demands that surfaced during the protests as more people, representing increasingly broader sectors of society, joined the student activists that initiated the Estallido.
Muchas luchas, un mismo corazón (Many struggles, a single heart), 2019-2020. Poster. Artist unknown.
Latin American Ephemera Collection.
One of the most striking posters in the exhibit, Por un cambio medular! Una nueva constitución (For a fundamental change! A new constitution), encapsulates both the general sense of anger and frustration felt by many in Chile as well as specific grievances towards distinct aspects of the existing economic and political model.
Por un cambio medular! Una nueva constitución ( For a fundamental change! A new constitution), 2019-2020.
Poster. Artist unknown. Latin American Ephemera Collection.
Some of the pieces on display powerfully depict grievances and demands of the Mapuche people, the largest group among Chile’s historically marginalized indigenous population. For example, in the following print, Mapuches forcefully demand the exit of the Chilean state from the Wallmapu—the name in Mapundungun (Mapuche language) of their ancestral lands in southern Chile and Argentina.
Estado genocida. Fuera del Wallmapu (Genocidal state. Out of the Wallmapu!), 2019-2020. Latin American Ephemera Collection.
Also included in the exhibit are several photographs from the Colección Archivo Fotográfico de la Protesta en Chile 2019, a collection of digital photographs compiled by Princeton graduate students Alejandro Martínez Rodríguez (Spanish & Portuguese) and Camila Reyes Alé (Architecture). The collection documents visual expressions of resistance that appeared during the early months of the protests, from graffiti to larger-scale interventions and performances, many of which were subsequently modified or destroyed.
Exterior wall of the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM), Santiago, Chile. December 18, 2019. Photographer: Camila Reyes Alé. Colección Archivo Fotográfico de la Protesta en Chile 2019.
The following photo, along with other pieces of ephemera on display in the exhibit, serves to portray the centrality of women’s voices during the Estallido. The aerial view shows a multitudinary performance of “Un violador en tu camino,” a song and choreography by the feminist collective Las Tesis that denounces the state’s complicity in the perpetration of violence against women. The piece quickly became a powerful feminist anthem performed across Chile and in cities around the world.
Protest performance “Un violador en tu camino” (Protest performance “An abuser in your path”), December 4, 2019. Photographer: Tomás Bravo Urízar.
Colección Archivo Fotográfico de la Protesta en Chile 2019
Watch below a video of the December 4, 2019 protest performance of “Un violador en tu camino” at the National Stadium in Santiago.
The Chile’s Estallido Social of 2019 section of the Records of Resistance exhibition was curated by Gabrielle Winkler and Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez. The exhibition will run from September 7 through December 11, 2022.
¡Felicitaciones Gabrielle y Fernando! Y Gracias! for curating and for providing an enlightening frame for the Latin American part of this important exhibit. Such powerful images of both violent repression and resistance! Memory and Hope.