Sunday, 12 July 2020
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  • 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.

    Owner: Oshima Hakko Museum collection, Japan. In the care of Conflict Textiles collection
    Location: Roberta Bacic, Northern Ireland
    Original / Replica: Original
    Photographer: Martin Melaugh

    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

    Textile Detail Image(s)