El perchero (The Clothes Rack)

Carlos Leppe

Santiago de Chile, Chile, 1952 - 2015
  • Date: 
    1975 / Later print, 2011
  • Material: 
    Wood (clothes rack and hangers)
  • Technique: 
    Gelatin silver print on paper
  • Descriptive technique: 
    Installation originally consisting of three photographs hung up on a coat rack
  • Dimensions: 
    Overall: 173 x 180 cm / Each part: 173 x 58 cm
  • Edition/serial number: 
  • Category: 
    Photography, Action
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

The early years of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship of the 1970s generated some of the most militant artistic demonstrations in Latin American conceptual art. Carlos Leppe used the reference points of Conceptualism, such as its hermeticism and precariousness to demonstrate the absolute breakdown of human rights in an extremely repressive dictatorship.
Although Leppe began by using the conventional plastic media, his evolution was based on a complex analysis of the contemporary situation using the body and theatrical settings. Carlos Leppe’s actions offered a critical vision from a variety of perspectives from within Pinochet’s Chile. The body used as a support for artistic expression was seen to be a powerful medium for political condemnation. In 1975 he created El perchero (The Clothes Rack), the original mounting of which consisted of three folded life-size photographs hung on a structure with three coat-hangers. The photographs depicted the artist’s body dressed in women’s clothing, exposing and concealing symbolically loaded body parts. The piece as a whole dared to confront the question of the representation of living flesh, in a clear reference to tortures used by the Chilean military regime. Like other artists under the dictatorship, such as the Colectivo de Acciones de Arte (Art Action Collective or CADA), Carlos Leppe’s art practice is political in its poetic tone and poetic in its political tone, articulating a new version of Conceptualism from the South, beyond neutrality and linguistic formalism.

Concha Calvo Salanova