A Certain Type of Hidden Force: Notes on the Outbreak in Chile

A Certain Type of Hidden Force: Notes on the Outbreak in Chile

Paulina E. Varas

Translation by Eva Marxen

The current effects of the neoliberal system are unimaginable. I write from Chile in the midst of weeks of a popular and social uprising of an unimaginable intensity. Its actions and repression have been visible all over the globe. Multiple expressions in the street show the discontent of the great majority of Chilean society with the system we live in, and betting on a collective creativity as manifested on the grated walls, graphic images, collective performance, etc. that have accompanied the uprising. All this coexists with police violence and a government deaf to citizen demands. A grated wall grabs my attention these days: “Chile: Where Neoliberalism was Born and Died”. Can we imagine, and live, a period of social and political transformation that might bring about such a decisive structural change? How will this social situation affect our practices and reflections in direct connection with our existence? We also touch our fragility and vulnerability in these episodes of insurgency. Alarms are activated in our subjectivity, facing an uncertain future. When social life forms are in question, a certain type of hidden force reverberates in our body. After decades of subjective repression the bodies in the street march together, touching each other in the great demonstrations that are organized every day. These are spaces of subjective composition and recomposition where collective creation practices can acquire a new meaning. It is this moment that informs and defines our existence, where art and politics can play an active role in new forms of relationship with the world. I share here a text and a graphic announcement by the Red Conceptualismos del Sur (Network Conceptualisms South), which is still active and from which images have been generated that accompany the Chilean social process in connection with other social uprisings around the world.

Outbreak [1]

Mass evasion. The high school student’s shout of “mass evasion, not paying is another way of fighting” that launched the social unrest in Chile was not only a rejection of the precarisation of life in the Latin American country where neoliberalism has established its deepest roots. It also enhances, transforms and returns from below the evasion that those above them already had license to benefit from. This is a revolt of those who remain tied to dispossession, tied to an un-payable debt, against those who enjoy unimaginable riches. This fugitive, lawless spark, this untrammelled rage that multiplied itself through the underground tunnels and through the urban spaces of Santiago, from which it moved to one city after another throughout the country, provided an escape route for disobedience, one that has provoked a profound and irreversible schism.

We energetically denounce and repudiate the decision of the Chilean government to allow the military on the streets. The behavior of the right in government is not the product of any “clumsiness”. It is clear that the claim by the president that what is going on in Chile is a “war” was aimed at mobilizing a politics of shock that is well-known to us, producing an internal enemy that allows them to split the good citizens from the bad in order to justify terror, to justify death. This is the response of a government that defends the interests of economic elites through extractivist policies and the privatization of common goods and services. A government that exercises daily violence by reproducing a structural inequality that has become unbearable to most Chileans.

Something has cracked. Something has broken off from the call to order, making us inhabit a state of disorientation that forces us to move, something that also manifests itself as solidarity and joy. We hear a deafening murmur that is impossible to ignore.

Inequality and structural violence are replicated and resonate in the explosions of resistance in Ecuador and Perú, in Catalonia, France, Hong Kong and Lebanon, in Puerto Rico, Argelia, Indonesia, Sudan, Colombia, Haiti, and Honduras in a way that allows us to touch for a moment the indomitable outside of the structures we live in, and that live within us.

We call for international solidarity and for demonstrations in all Chilean embassies and consulates

We call for the repudiation of all forms of militarization and repression.

We call for the end of the media blackout.


We call for a graphic campaign that will allow us to disseminate and visibilize information. Works to be downloaded and activated in every context given the vertiginous turn of events. This call is aimed at artists, collectives, amateurs and anyone interested.

  1. Each artist or collective can send an unlimited number of images.
  2. Work could be in any medium.
  3. We recommend that images are easy to print and in a resolution of 300 dpi, either in color or black and white.
  4. Images should be sent as attachments to redcsur@gmail.com, including the following details: Name of the author or collective/town and country/e-mail/title/technique/format/year.
  5. The images will be uploaded to the RedCSur website, where they can be downloaded. 

Examples of images received thus far

Lucía Bianchi y Silvana Castro, Buenos Aires, (2019)

Macarena Olivera, Argentina/Madrid España, (2019)

Alejandro Thornton, Democracia ideal irreal/Ideal, unreal democracy (2019)

Macarena Olivera, Argentina/Madrid España, (2019)

Macarena Olivera, Argentina/Madrid España, (2019)

You can see more of the images here:

First collection: https://redcsur.net/es/2019/10/25/estallamos-campana-grafica-por-chile-primer-envio/

Second collection: https://redcsur.net/es/2019/10/27/estallamos-campana-grafica-por-chile-segundo-envio/

Third collection: https://redcsur.net/es/2019/10/31/estallamos-campana-grafica-por-chile-tercer-envio/

Four collection: https://redcsur.net/es/2019/11/10/estallamos-campana-grafica-por-chile-cuarto-envio/

Fifth collection: https://redcsur.net/es/2019/12/06/quinto-envio-estallamos-campana-grafica-por-el-pueblo-chileno/

Sixth collection: https://redcsur.net/es/2020/01/20/estallamos-campana-grafica-por-chile-sexto-envio/

[1] This text is available on-line in both Spanish and English: https://redcsur.net/en/2019/10/25/outbreak/

Paulina E. Varas has a degree in Art from the University of Playa Ancha, Valparaíso (Chile), and holds a PhD in History and Theory of Art from the University of Barcelona. She is a research professor of the Creative Campus of the Andrés Bello University in the headquarters of Santiago and Viña del Mar. She coordinates with others the CRAC project, a cell of actions and critical reflection located in the city of Valparaíso. Since 2007, she has been a member of the Network Red Conceptualismos del Sur [Conceptualisms of the South] where she has participated in a number of publications, public presentations, and support actions in Chile, Spain, Argentina, Peru, among others. She has co/authored the following books: CADA. Astucia práctica y potencias de lo común (Santiago, 2019); Luz Donoso. El arte y la acción en el presente (Santiago, 2018); Guillermo Deisler. Archivo, textos e imágenes en acción (Santiago, 2013), among others. Amongst her curatorial projects, she has notably co/curated: Subversive Practices, Art Under Conditions of Political Repression (Stuttgart, 2009); Valparaíso: Intervenciones (Valparaíso, 2010); Una acción hecha por otro es una obra de la Luz Donoso (Santiago, 2011); Artist for Democracy: The Archive of Cecilia Vicuña (Santiago, 2014); Poner el cuerpo. Llamamientos de arte y política en los años ochenta en América Latina (Santiago, 2016). She is currently developing a project on diaspora and women (with Lucía Egaña) and a project on cross-cultural cultural coordination during the military dictatorship (with Javiera Manzi).

Spanish Language Version

Un cierto tipo de fuerza escondida. Notas sobre el estallido en Chile

Paulina E. Varas

Los efectos actuales del sistema neoliberal son inimaginables. Escribo desde Chile cuando llevamos semanas de un levantamiento popular y social de una intensidad inimaginable y cuyas acciones y represión han sido visibles en todas las partes del globo. Múltiples expresiones en la calle demuestran el descontento de la gran mayoría de la sociedad chilena con el sistema que vivimos apostando por una creatividad colectiva en los rallados en los muros, imágenes gráficas, performance colectivas, etc. Todo esto coexiste con la violencia policial y con un Gobierno sordo a las demandas ciudadanas. Un rallado en el muro llama mi atención en estos días “Chile: donde nació y murió el neoliberalismo”, ¿Podemos imaginar y vivir un término de ciclo social y político, un cambio estructural tan determinante? ¿Cómo irá afectando esta coyuntura social a nuestras prácticas y reflexiones en vínculo directo con nuestra existencia?. También tocamos nuestra fragilidad y vulnerabilidad en estos episodios de insurgencia. Se activan en nuestra subjetividad las alarmas frente un devenir incierto, cuando las formas de vida social están en cuestión, reverbera en nuestro cuerpo un cierto tipo de fuerza escondida. Después de décadas de represión subjetiva los cuerpos en la calle marchan juntos tocándose unos a otros, en las grandes manifestaciones que cada día se organizan. Estos son espacios de composición y recomposición subjetiva donde las practicas de creación colectiva pueden adquirir un nuevo sentido, es aquel presente que impacta la existencia donde el arte y la política puede tener un rol activo en nuestras nuevas formas de relación con el mundo.

Comparto acá un texto y una convocatoria Gráfica elaborada por la Red Conceptualismos del Sur, que aún sigue activa y desde la que se han ido componiendo imágenes que acompañan el proceso social chileno en conexión con otros levantamientos sociales en el mundo.


Traducción: https://redcsur.net/es/2019/10/23/estallamos/

Pueden verse más imágenes enviadas acá:

Primer envío https://redcsur.net/es/2019/10/25/estallamos-campana-grafica-por-chile-primer-envio/

Segundo envío https://redcsur.net/es/2019/10/27/estallamos-campana-grafica-por-chile-segundo-envio/

Tercer envío https://redcsur.net/es/2019/10/31/estallamos-campana-grafica-por-chile-tercer-envio/

Cuarto envío https://redcsur.net/es/2019/11/10/estallamos-campana-grafica-por-chile-cuarto-envio/

Quinto envío https://redcsur.net/es/2019/12/06/quinto-envio-estallamos-campana-grafica-por-el-pueblo-chileno/

Sexto envío https://redcsur.net/es/2020/01/20/estallamos-campana-grafica-por-chile-sexto-envio/


[1] Texto disponible online en español e inglés https://redcsur.net/en/2019/10/25/outbreak/