This project arises from the direct observation of what is happening in the streets of Santiago, Chile. I belong to a generation that reinterprets the idea of the collective; I am 52 years old and I believe in the deepest part that a favorable economic-political-social change for our country is possible
What happened on the streets since October 18 was shocking: this is great, -I thought-.
It reminded me of the resistance and struggle that took place 40 years ago against the Pinochet dictatorship. You have to be there to tell it, -I told myself-, to live what happens. Thus, from Saturday October 19, 2019 at approximately 3:00 p.m. I began to record audios, videos and take photographs.
In the beginning, the images were captured from a Sony XPERIA M4 Aqua cell phone, E 2306, with a 13 mega-pixel camera. The truth is that it did not have a great resolution, the images were fuzzy. I thought I should take better shots, I don’t know much about photography but I set out to learn.
On November 9, 2019 I bought a Nikon 5,600 camera (18-55 lens) and rescued the Go Pro Hero 5 Black, 4K I had. I jumped in, I learned as I went, asking, talking, looking, taking risks.
A week after being in the field and taking the first takes, I took more risks.
At the end of November, in one of the demonstrations in the Plaza Baquedano / Italia / Dignidad axis, a few meters from the Argentine embassy nearly from Vicuña Mackenna, a tear gas passed near my body and the police marched towards the protesters.
I stared at how the Carabineros Special Forces pickets advanced.
They crossed, glancing at me, I saw the tear gas cartridges on the cement, metallic color with blue letters, Condor Brand GL 202. I walked a few meters, approached, picked up the tear gas cartridges and took a photograph of them. I looked at them, then I observed, the shots were heard in the distance and the idea was illuminated: the objects, the evidence, the rubble, it has a lot of importance.
I discovered that, along with taking photographs and videos, I had to rescue the artifacts around what was happening on the ground.
I opened my mind and for days, nights, weekends, early mornings, I went to look for all kinds of objects that were scattered and in certain settings and territories of the binding protest to the social outbreak-revolt in Santiago de Chile for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Rubble, objects and materiality manufactured and circumstantially constructed to perform some specific function (an artifact), something that by itself did not make sense, but linked to a context, had meaning.
Artifacts of control, intervention, deterrence, clearance, dispersal, detention and repression, resistance (defense), rebellion (advance), containment (defense). Fighting artifacts, various artifacts that people leave or lose along the way. Artifacts as silent witnesses of what is happening in the demonstrations.
Give value and resignify those objects and vestiges in the context of protest and mobilization (in three stages: before, during and after) in a certain street –for example, Carabineros de Chile between Vicuña Mackenna and Ramón Corvalán Melgarejo–.
These symbols of concrete, real, repetitive police violence with common patterns, verified empirically on the ground, have been constituting a specific territorial landmark in those streets.
In the southeast corner, for example, we find 22 pellets and steel pellets embedded in the trees. In the palm trees and cork oaks, pellets are recorded up to 1.75 meters from ground level.
These research and rescue exercises contribute to the construction of a collective historical memory, which is reinforced, ratified and complemented by the compilation of oral accounts of the different social actors that coexist in the middle of the protest scene, conversations with various protesters, economically, socially, age and culturally; young people, women, adults and adolescents.
The dynamic of active and participant observation facilitated the process of listening and talking, for example, with the so-called first line, in which different defensive and offensive roles and functions are recognized in the dynamics of the protest: squires, “peñasqueros”, anti-gas or “apagalacris” , slingers, pointers, hydrators or sprinklers, miners or “pirquineros”.
Also, among the protesters, I observed construction workers, office workers, administrative workers, supermarkets, private homes, unemployed workers, in informal employment, entrepreneurs, health officials (higher level technician), ordinary people, kindergarten educators, students university students, secondary school, children and young people from the National Service for Minors (Sename), people, women, men from popular sectors, educated people, with university studies and better social position, it was transversal, there were many Chiles in that Chile
A source of information was also Carabineros de Chile, both officials of the Special Forces (FF.EE) who control public order with the full range of actions that they generated in their work dynamics, conversations, participant observation with traffic police officials
The work of observation, registration and interaction was carried out in the days before, during and after the protest, thus there was contact and link with cleaning and cleaning workers, homeless people and people in street situations, collectors and recyclers, workers who circulate around the perimeter of Plaza Italia and surroundings.
The link with municipal cleaning workers, homeless people and car attendants was particularly important, given that they contributed significant wealth both in their stories and in the collection of artifacts.
These people who gave confidence, solidarity and their own view of what was happening in the streets.