Tuesday, 23 April 2024

Textile Details

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


Title of Textile:La cueca sola / Dancing cueca alone
Maker: Violeta Morales
Country of Origin: Chile
Year Produced: 1989
Size (cm): 44cm (w) x 33cm (l)
Materials: Scraps of material hand sewn onto burlap
Type of Textile: Arpillera

The detention and disappearance of Violeta Morales' brother Newton on 13th August 1974 catapulted her into an unfamiliar world of searching prisons for news of his whereabouts and denouncing the Pinochet regime at every opportunity.

Her resistance took many forms. She was an active member of the Association of Detained and Disappeared (AFDD), founder member of the Folkloric Musical Ensemble of Relatives of the detained-disappeared and Co-ordinator of the group Movement Against Torture Sebastián Acevedo.

This arpillera – another form of resistance by Violeta - shows women solo dancing the traditional Cueca, Chile's national dance. It represents the different emotions and stages of romance and 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. By dancing the Cueca in this manner they denounced the government's actions in a public space.

For Violeta and her comrades: "the Pinochet dictatorship made us exist, but not live… [It]forced us to renounce everything and to struggle against torture and human rights violations, as well as search tirelessly for our loved ones".

Her aspiration, voiced in 1994 that: "the arpilleras serve as a testimony for other generations, not only in Chile but also in the whole world" continues to be realised as this and other arpilleras from her generation broadcast their message of denouncement worldwide. Agosin, M., (2008) "The Arpillera Movement in Chile – Second Edition" p.93.

3,216 people are currently recognised by the Chilean state as having been killed or disappeared by the dictatorship. A new state search initiative, announced in 2023, considers 1,469 of them to be still missing. Observatorio de Justicia Transicional, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile (2023).

Sting 'They Dance Alone'. Amnesty International Concert, Chile, October 13, 1990

Owner: Conflict Textiles collection
Location: Conflict Textiles store
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Martin Melaugh
Provenance: Donation from Oshima Hakko Museum.

Textile exhibited at: Meeting Chilean Arpilleras, 3/05/2013 - 31/10/2013
Threads, War and Conflict, 3/04/2019 - 29/04/2019
II encuentro internacional de arte textil y resistencia, 22/08/2019 - 24/08/2019
Tras las huellas de los/as desaparecidos/as , 29/08/2019 - 31/08/2019
Poesie des Nähens / The Poetry of Stitching, 17/01/2020 - 8/03/2020
Tras las Huellas de las Arpilleras / Following the footsteps of the Arpilleras , 27/04/2021 - 27/04/2021
Tras las huellas de los/as desaparecidos/as, 10/01/2022 - 5/02/2022
Narrativas textiles: Tramas de dolor y empatía en América Latina / Textile Narratives, 5/09/2022 - 8/09/2022
Transformative Memory International Network 2022 MemoLab: Northern Ireland, 17/10/2022 - 6/11/2022
PILAS Conference 2023: Coloniality, Autonomy, and Emancipation in Latin America, 29/03/2023 - 29/03/2023
Arpilleras Poéticas, 7/12/2023 - 12/02/2024
Diásporas textiles: Diálogos con la Colección, 12/02/2024 - 17/03/2024

Textile Detail Image(s)

  'La cueca sola / Dancing cueca alone' - Detail 1, by Violeta Morales. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)  'La cueca sola / Dancing cueca alone' - Detail 2, by Violeta Morales. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)