Monday, 27 May 2024

Textile Details

'La Cueca Sola / Dancing Cueca alone', by Gala Torres. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)
'La Cueca Sola / Dancing Cueca alone', by Gala Torres. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)


Title of Textile:La cueca sola / Dancing cueca alone
Maker: Gala Torres
Country of Origin: Chile
Year Produced: 1989
Size (cm): 49cm x 38cm
Materials: Scraps of material, handsewn onto hessian
Type of Textile: Arpillera

This arpillera shows women solo dancing the traditional Cueca, Chile's national dance which represents the different emotions and stages of romance. It is meant to be danced in pairs wearing colourful clothing. Here the women dance alone and in severe black and white, wearing the image of their "disappeared" loved one over their heart. Performing the national dance in this manner was their way of denouncing the government's actions in a public space. This Cueca Sola was made by Gala Torres, an active member of the Association of Detained and Disappeared (AFDD) and director of the Folkloric Musical Ensemble of Relatives of the detained-disappeared, a folk group created by arpilleristas to collectively compose and sing songs about their lives as women alone. For Gala, her activism stemmed from the arrest and disappearance of her brother, Ruperto Torres Aravena in 1973. She recalls: "We women used to have a secondary role in political activities. But after the coup, we realised that we could no longer be spectators, we would have to play a major role in the struggle for our disappeared relatives". (Agosin, 2008)

The boldness, determination and creativity of the women depicted in this arpillera has inspired people all over the world. The Sting song "They dance alone" was based on it and has been performed by many other singers including Joan Baez and Holly Near. In June 1986 Amnesty International sponsored a tour of six benefit concerts which included the song and such famous performers as Sting, Bryan Adams, Peter Gabriel, Joan Baez and the Neville Brothers.

Gala Torres dancing the Cueca Sola with the Folkloric Ensemble of the Association of Relatives of Detained - Disappeared, in the National Stadium, Santiago, Chile, 12 March 1990

Owner: Oshima Hakko Museum collection, Japan
Location: Conflict Textiles store
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Martin Melaugh
Provenance: In the care of Conflict Textiles collection.

Textile exhibited at: 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
Sew to Speak – Human Rights, 12/09/2014 - 14/09/2014
Textile Accounts of Conflicts, 17/11/2014 - 18/11/2014
Textile Accounts of Conflicts, 6/02/2015 - 7/03/2015
Arpilleras: Verhalen over leven / Arpilleras: stories of life and survival, 23/09/2015 - 20/11/2015
ARPILLERAS: verhalen over leven / ARPILLERAS: stories of life and survival, 16/01/2016 - 24/02/2016
Enduring Life: Arpillera Voices, 11/05/2016 - 15/07/2016
Arpillera Voices and Echoes , 6/10/2016 - 14/11/2016
Arpilleras viajeras: Chilenas y de otras latitudes, 16/11/2016 - 12/12/2016
Chile 1973 , 22/02/2020 - 22/02/2020
Colecciones y creador@s creando vínculos: El uso e interés de las colecciones de muse, 23/05/2022 - 23/05/2022
International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances 2022, 30/08/2022 - 30/08/2022

Textile Detail Image(s)