This project aimed to capture the memory engraved on the walls of the street that was the main protagonist of the demonstrations during the Social Uprising or Social Awakening in Chile –Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins Avenue, commonly known as the Alameda–, exposing almost 2.4 km of its extension as a piece of art in itself. The record, made on the 36th day of the outburst and consisting of 136 contiguous photographs of the southside of la Alameda –between Seminario and Nataniel Cox streets, in front of Palacio de La Moneda (the government palace).
This artwork is an invitation to travel along this path to read the parchment of façades formed by loose texts written in the city, so that everyone can choose and create their own interpretation. It is also a possibility for people, both Chilean and foreign, to experience this continuous flow of citizens shouting, painting, jumping, and marching throughout the demonstrations. In addition, a free download bilingual Digital Book was designed, where the complete project is presented in its first version (link in the main menu).
Available to everyone, this photographic journey immortalizes the history of our country. The value of the archive record -not only of this social crisis- makes possible to generate research, projects and multiple analyses of this ‘megacrisis’ from different disciplines and fields of knowledge, especially since it offers itself as a material freely accessible globally.
In this context, the appropriation of the street and of public space has been the setting for the protests and the best expression of Chilean society as a whole. The street, as a shared space, has turned into a place to meet, talk, and dance, a place for barricades, trenches, and commerce; a multipurpose court for everything… and also, it has become an open book. Its façades have become the pages of this book, the canvas where the demands, events, statements, characters, news, codes, and many others, have been drawn; fixing these messages almost like in a diary of the contingency that accompanies the citizens’ daily lives. But these walls is not enough, and it expands organically over bus stops, pavements, fences, urban furniture and even over the ground itself, which today forms part of this unique graphic record that reflects the local imagery of the historical period that the nation is living. Creativity, eloquence, humour and violence have awakened in people to reflect all the discomfort accumulated after so many years of constant abuse of people.
The manual and digital work that I carried out during five months thanks to the record of a photographer and friend, Daniel Corvillón, allowed me to create this kilometric anonymous canvas immortalising the demands, slogans, phrases, characters, and messages, among others, that were chanted and defended in the streets and that now have been erased not only by layers of paint but also by the pandemic context of COVID-19. The invitation, then, is to experience or revive the feeling of walking along the streets of Santiago on the 36th day of the Social Uprising.
To conclude, I would like to thank all those who participated in this initiative that started with the sole intention –and question– of how to contribute from my field of knowledge to this social crisis that affects us all. This completely ‘self-managed’ project has been possible thanks to the collaboration of multiple people who are not only in Chile but also abroad, who wanted to contribute to the memory of our territory. Thank you for helping me to carry out this valuable project that seeks to be a contribution within the field of Chilean graphics and our history as a country.
CAROLA URETA MARÍN
On October 18th, 2019, Chile experienced what was called ‘El Estallido Social’ (the Social Uprising); one of the greatest political crises in its history, a ‘megacrisis’ as Gastón Soublette refers. Triggered by a subway fare rise of 30 CLP (USD ~0,042) in the capital, it was an explosion of demands and of social discontent as a result of years of citizens’ rights infringement. The most transversal claim was the concept of “dignity”, that is, the struggle to achieve a dignified life for all Chileans where rights and basic services –such as health, education, housing and pensions– were guaranteed for all without distinction. After a few days of demonstrations all the promises of almost 30 years of post military dictatorship governments were broken, and the “normality” in which Chileans were assumed to live was no longer going to be accepted. Within this scenario no person, institution, discipline or corner of the country was left out of the debate.
First of all, I would like to thank photographer Daniel Corvillón for his confidence, who believed in the project from day one and with whom we designed a method for the day of the photographic record, being able to capture all the necessary images that compose the final montage. Secondly, I am thankful for the motivation and professionalism of Felipe Sologuren who, with his digital mastery, developed the website making tangible the conceived design and suggesting many technical solutions to even make the dream of the laser beams come true. To Andrés Larraín who, with his expertise as a photographer, guided me through parts of the image assembly process, and to María Jesús Villa who, with her patience and eye for detail, contributed with the double page photo sequence. To Paula Pavez, Jude Richardson, James W. Venner, Nicolás Adriasola, Mathias Klenner and María Eugenia Hernández who translated the texts into English in order to expand the scope of the content. To Nicolás Bascuñán and Felipe Morandé for their essential contribution in charge of the project’s communication, both in Chile and internationally, and to Daniela Bussenius for contributing to its visibility in regions. To Gustavo Gaptone for giving the first look to the website and to Franco Bertozzi for his audiovisual work that supported social networks. To Rocío Valdez for her precise style editing, and the national graphic artist Vicente Larrea for his belief in the project and for motivating other great collaborators to write. To my soul sister Sandra and Florencia, who always help me and give me the strength to persevere in my ideas. To my dear friend Marcos Chilet, a loyal colleague in whose advice and criteria I deeply trust. Finally, thank the footnotes authors and the other collaborators of the Digital Book who surprised me with their beautiful texts so different, unique and that can generate multiple reflections from this common platform that was the Alameda on the 36th day. Thank you for collaborating and dedicating a little of your time to The City as Text.
36th day of the Social Uprising | Santiago | Chile