In 1973, a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet crushed the project with which Salvador Allende's Popular Unity government had put forward new conditions of collective existence in which culture played a significant role — a project which had attracted a good deal of international interest in the democratic anomaly of the 'Chilean Road to Socialism'. In the wake of the coup, thousands of exiles forged a network of associations with a variety of individuals and institutions working in many different parts of the world, with a view to restoring democracy to Chile.
Meanwhile, inside Chile, many others engaged in strategies of resistance to and confrontation with the repressive machinery of the dictatorship. This was the context in which there emerged an avant-garde scene created by young artists who experimented with the body, the archive, language and the city. A key component of this “advanced scene”, as the cultural theorist Nelly Richard dubbed it, was the Colectivo Acciones de Arte (C.A.D.A.) [Art Actions Collective], formed by the visual artists Lotty Rosenfeld and Juan Castillo, the writers Diamela Eltit and Raúl Zurita and the sociologist Fernando Balcells. C.A.D.A., which was active between 1979 and 1985, set out to challenge with its practices the spurious divisions between art, city, citizenship and poverty, while at the same time questioning the spaces in which artistic creation operated.
This exhibition brings together an extensive selection of materials from the C.A.D.A. Archive and Work, recently acquired by the Museum on the basis of the dialogue with the artists who conserve the original material, Lotty Rosenfeld and Diamela Eltit, and the researches of the Red de Conceptualismos del Sur, besides other complementary materials. The project Para no morir de hambre en el arte [In order not to starve to death in art] (1979) is the core of the present show. In this project C.A.D.A. engaged with measure number 15 of Allende's Popular Unity programme, which affirmed the right of every Chilean child to half a litre of milk a day. On that basis they staged various actions, such as the handing out of bags of milk in a working-class area of Santiago or a polyglot reading of the text 'No es una aldea'/'It's not a village' outside the headquarters of the United Nations. In this way they embraced the plight of a city and a citizenry denied their fundamental rights and went on to proclaim the people's everyday experience as the heart of the production of art as social creation.
In order to activate and reposition in the present the strategies that documents the Archive, one of the group's best-known initiatives has been brought back into circulation in the entrance lobby of the Library.
This is the poster NO+, initiated in 1983. For this occasion, five artists have been invited, each in conjunction with a social collective currently active in the Spanish State, to take part in the production of replicas of NO+: These five interventions bear witness to the continued relevance of the resources of C.A.D.A. Archive and Work and a project that was designed in order to be reappropriated to promote an active negativity.
Juan Enrique Forch, Nelly Richard, Luz Donoso, Eugenio Téllez, Cecilia Vicuña and others
Isabel García Pérez de Arce (Santiago de Chile), Lucía Egaña in collaboration with the association Aprosex (Barcelona), Equipo Palomar in collaboration with the collective Migrantxs Transgresorxs (Barcelona and Madrid), André Mesquita (São Paulo), N.I.E. –Nómadas Insumisas de las Excolonias– in collaboration with the Espacio del Inmigrante Raval and the Sindicato Popular de Vendedores Ambulantes (Barcelona), Diego del Pozo in collaboration with the Vallecas PAH (Platform of People Affected by Mortgages) (Madrid), Firas Shehadeh in collaboration with the Indignados Refugiados collective (Viena and Barcelona), Paulina Varas Alarcón (Valparaíso)