Monday, 27 May 2024

Textile Details

'Queremos Democracia / We want democracy', Anonymous, Vicaría de la Solidaridad workshop. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)
'Queremos Democracia / We want democracy', Anonymous, Vicaría de la Solidaridad workshop. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)


Title of Textile:Queremos Democracia / We want democracy
Maker: Anonymous, Vicaría de la Solidaridad
Country of Origin: Chile
Year Produced: 1988
Size (cm): 47cm (w) x 37cm (l)
Materials: Scraps of material hand sewn onto burlap
Type of Textile: Arpillera

This arpillera, from a Chilean church community workshop, depicts the "people's power" in insisting on their rights to a peaceful, non-violent society. The bright colours of the houses and the women's clothes convey hope; however, the presence of the police car reminds us that overcoming the barriers to poverty and peace are not easy, and without freedom even peaceful demonstrators are under threat. In this difficult context they carry a banner that reads "democracy" hoping that if this is achieved, things will change. They want to be part of the process.

The police presence pictured echoes photos and recollections of the 1983 National Days of Protest, when citizens, at first in Santiago and later all over the country, took to the streets campaigning for the reinstatement of political liberties. When police arrived, they attempted to repress protesters violently, resulting in hundreds of arrests and several deaths.

Note that the figures are all women, who predominantly made up the membership of certain pro-democracy movements such as the Association of Families of the Detained- Disappeared and the Chilean women’s movement with the slogan ‘Democracia en el país y en la casa’ (Democracy in the nation and in the home’). As well as protesting against the ongoing atrocities of the regime, the arpilleristas also directed their energies towards the future, towards the type of society they wanted to shape and be part of.

In 1988 a plebiscite was held to determine if Pinochet’s leadership would continue for another 8 years. Following a 56% NO vote, Pinochet agreed to step down when he swiftly lost the backing of the military junta. Presidential elections took place in 1989, and the democratic election of Patricio Aylwin brought an end to almost 18 years of dictatorship.

Despite this, Agosin (2008) maintains that women were not given due recognition in the new democracy: "democracy has not acknowledged the significance of the arpilleristas and other women's groups who had a fundamental role to play in the return of democracy."

Updated by Helen Maguire 27 th March 2024

Owner: Conflict Textiles collection
Location: Gabriela Cruz & Soledad Montañez, Glasgow University
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Martin Melaugh
Provenance: Sean Carroll, USA

Textile exhibited at: Arpilleras / Quilts that cry out, challenge and question, 12/11/2008 - 14/11/2008
The Politics of Chilean Arpilleras II, 2/03/2009 - 31/03/2009
Stitching Peace: An exhibition of Arpilleras and Quilts, 16/02/2011 - 18/03/2011
Stitching Peace: An exhibition of arpilleras and quilts, 17/05/2011 - 25/05/2011
Arpilleras e resistência política no Chile , 30/07/2011 - 30/10/2011
Transforming threads of resistance, 27/02/2012 - 9/03/2012
Arpilleras of Chilean political resistance , 22/03/2012 - 5/06/2012
Stitching and Unstitching The Troubles-phase 1, 5/09/2012 - 29/09/2012
Arpilleras in contested spaces, 3/09/2013 - 6/09/2013
RETAZOS TESTIMONIALES: arpilleras de Chile y otras latitudes, 28/09/2013 - 10/11/2013
SMALL Actions BIG Movements, 1/07/2014 - 11/07/2014
COSIENDO PAZ: Conflicto, Arpilleras, Memoria , 26/03/2015 - 30/09/2015
COSIENDO PAZ: Conflicto, Arpilleras, Memoria, 8/10/2015 - 4/04/2016
COSIENDO PAZ: Conflicto, Arpilleras, Memoria , 13/04/2016 - 12/06/2016
Stitched Voices / Lleisiau wedi eu Pwytho, 25/03/2017 - 13/05/2017
Stitched Voices: Knowing conflict through textiles, 17/11/2017 - 20/12/2017
Stitched Voices - textila berättelse om politisk våld och motstånd , 29/08/2018 - 21/04/2019
(Des) Tejiendo Miradas / (Un-) Stitching Gazes , 15/01/2021 - 1/03/2021
Stitching Memory: Commemorating 50 years of solidarity in Scotland, 20/05/2024 - 31/05/2024

Textile Detail Image(s)