Wednesday, 21 February 2024

Textile Details

'¿Dónde están nuestros hijos? / Where are our children?', Anonymous. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)
'¿Dónde están nuestros hijos? / Where are our children?', Anonymous. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)


Title of Textile:¿Dónde están nuestros hijos? / Where are our children?
Maker: Anonymous
Country of Origin: Chile
Year Produced: 1979
Size (cm): 68cm (w) x 63cm (l)
Materials: Scraps of material hand sewn onto burlap
Type of Textile: Arpillera

This arpillera made in 1979, in one of the Vicaria de la Solidaridad workshops in Santiago, depicts the despair of a mother whose children are missing. A handwritten note hidden in a small pocket at the back of the arpillera gives us a glimpse of the depth of this mother's grief. Her message, penned from her personal despair, is on behalf of all Chilean women who endured the repression and human rights violations of the Pinochet regime at that time. In this note, the writing is extremely poignant:

"This represents our children ...where they are now.., under the eye of the 'dina' [political secret police]; while we, the mothers, cry to one day hear about them". An anguished mother in pain, Chile, 1979.

In this piece, the mountains and sun, common features in all arpilleras, are missing. Against a bleak background we see a crying mother kneeling with another woman, flanked by two police men. Above, large hands framed in a heart shape are encased by two large interrogating eyes. In the midst of this desolate scene the peace doves seem to be falling to the ground.

Jacquie Monty bought this arpillera, and several others, in the early 1980s whilst working for Oxfam on an exhibition focused on El Salvador and Chile. She donated it and two others (Panfleteando en el 1979 en Santiago / Leafleting in Santiago in 1979; Violencia en las calles de Santiago de Chile durante toque de queda / Violence in the streets of Santiago de Chile during curfew) to Conflict Textiles curator Roberta Bacic after meeting her at the exhibition The politics of Chilean Arpilleras organised by the Centre of Latin American Studies (CLAS), University of Cambridge (2008). After carrying out conservation work on the arpillera and restoring the backing to its original colour Roberta discovered the hidden pocket; true to its purpose it eluded easy discovery.

Owner: Conflict Textiles collection
Location: c/o Alejandra Wolff Rojas, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chile
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Martin Melaugh
Provenance: Jacquie Monty, England (deceased).

Textile exhibited at: Stitching Resistance, 12/10/2010 - 16/01/2011
Arpilleras e resistência política no Chile , 30/07/2011 - 30/10/2011
Arpilleras of Chilean political resistance , 22/03/2012 - 5/06/2012
Stitching and Unstitching The Troubles-phase 1, 5/09/2012 - 29/09/2012
RETAZOS TESTIMONIALES: arpilleras de Chile y otras latitudes, 28/09/2013 - 10/11/2013
Disobedient Objects, 26/07/2014 - 11/02/2015
Conflict Textiles collection: Tower Museum and Guildhall, 11/07/2016 - 16/12/2016
Art and Human Rights Network Day , 20/06/2017 - 20/06/2017
Arpilleras Speak Truth, 25/09/2017 - 28/10/2017
Threads, War and Conflict, 3/04/2019 - 29/04/2019
Chile 1973 , 22/02/2020 - 22/02/2020
Conflict Textiles collection: Magee Campus Library, Ulster University, 25/08/2020 - 3/12/2020
Abrazo Entramado (Woven Hug), 16/02/2022 - 7/04/2022
Conflict Textiles as Counter Archives in Truth Commission Processes, 26/05/2022 - 26/05/2022
Woven Hug (Abrazo Entramado), 15/06/2023 - 26/08/2023
Arpilleras Poéticas, 7/12/2023 - 12/02/2024
Archivos Textiles: memorias que persisten, 12/02/2024 - 17/03/2024
Threads of Empowerment: Conflict Textiles’ International Journey, 21/06/2024 - 31/03/2025

Textile Detail Image(s)

  '¿Dónde están nuestros hijos? / Where are our children?' (reverse side), Anonymous. (Photo: Colin Peck)  '¿Dónde están nuestros hijos? / Where are our children? - handwritten note from a small pocket at the back of the arpillera', Anonymous. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)