Art can be a powerful avenue of resistance to oppressive governments. During the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile, some of the country's least powerful citizens-impoverished women living in Santiago's shantytowns-spotlighted the government's failings and use of violence by creating and sellingarpilleras, appliquéd pictures in cloth that portrayed the unemployment, poverty, and repression that they endured, their work to make ends meet, and their varied forms of protest. Smuggled out of Chile by human rights organizations, thearpillerasraised international awareness of the Pinochet regime's abuses while providing income for thearpilleramakers and creating a network of solidarity between the people of Chile and sympathizers throughout the world.
Using the Chileanarpillerasas a case study, this book explores how dissident art can be produced under dictatorship, when freedom of expression is absent and repression rife, and the consequences of its production for the resistance and for the artists. Taking a sociological approach based on interviews, participant observation, archival research, and analysis of a visual database, Jacqueline Adams examines the emergence of thearpillerasand then traces their journey from the workshops and homes in which they were made, to the human rights organizations that exported them, and on to sellers and buyers abroad, as well as in Chile. She then presents the perspectives of thearpilleramakers and human rights organization staff, who discuss how thearpillerasstrengthened the resistance and empowered the women who made them.
Subjects: Art & Art History, History
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