Friday, 19 July 2024

Textile Details

'La revuelta de los $ 30 chilenos / The $ 30 Chilean pesos revolt', by Aurora Ortiz. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)
'La revuelta de los $ 30 chilenos / The $ 30 Chilean pesos revolt', by Aurora Ortiz. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)


Title of Textile:La revuelta de los $ 30 chilenos / The $ 30 Chilean pesos revolt
Maker: Aurora Ortiz
Country of Origin: Chile
Year Produced: 2020
Size (cm): 48cm (w) x 38cm (l)
Materials: Scraps of material
Type of Textile: Arpillera

Images of black silhouetted protestors brandishing flags, leaping reddish orange flames, a clouded blue-grey sky, enormous eyes with pupils dilated - some dripping blood - hold our gaze, and draw us into the layers of this textile.

Through these striking images Aurora, who completed this piece in February 2020, depicts the demonstrations that began on 18th October 2019 in the public space Plaza Dignidad in Santiago (former Plaza Baquedano). She conveys the determination, the carnage and the reprisals that accompanied these mass protests sparked by a 30 peso increase in metro fares. This was the tipping point in a long litany of price hikes which galvanised people into action, demanding reform of the 30 years of neoliberal policies which curtailed the economic and social rights of ordinary Chileans.

The black, flag-bearing silhouettes denote the broad spectrum of protesters: the students’ movement who instigated the initial demonstrations; the general public; and the anarchist movement with their “Negro Matapacos” symbol - the black Chilean dog who gained notoriety in the student protests of 2010/2011. The vibrant flames against the clouded sky convey the urban fires, the subway stations in flames, the sense of urgency and the refusal of the protestors to be intimidated.

Chile’s National Institute of Human Rights (NHRI) maintains that the heavy handed response by the Piñera government has resulted in the most serious human rights violations since the military dictatorship. (23 December 2019), Aljazeera news

A report (December 2019) by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) states that almost 5,000 people were injured during October and November (approximately half civilian, half police). Twenty six people died and 28,000 were detained. There is evidence that "the police … repeatedly breached their obligation to distinguish between violent protesters and people demonstrating peacefully". (p8). Allegations of rape, torture and ill treatment of detainees are under investigation. (OHCHR) Report of the mission to Chile, 30 October – 22nd November 2019 (Full report)

Aurora depicts the more than 445 people who suffered eye injuries or lost an eye, from police fired pellets and tear gas through various images in the pupils, each referring to an injured person. The dripping blood signifies the horrific life-changing injuries. Overall, their size and outward gaze symbolises an awakened Chile as articulated by the protesters’ common slogan “Chile woke up”. (16 March 2020), Aljazeera news

Despite the revocation of the metro price hike, assurances of economic reforms, and the promise of a new constitution, people continue to demand truth and justice for the recent human rights violations and more radical measures to increase pensions and wages.

The sun and mountains, common features of early and contemporary Chilean arpilleras is absent. Perhaps it is a reminder that a new era of awakened Chileans has dawned.

Owner: Conflict Textiles collection
Location: Conflict Textiles store
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Martin Melaugh
Provenance: Acquired from Aurora Ortiz by curator Roberta Bacic in Santiago de Chile, February 2020

Textile Detail Image(s)

  'La revuelta de los $ 30 chilenos / The $ 30 Chilean pesos revolt', by Aurora Ortiz (Detail). (Photo: Martin Melaugh)