Long before 9/11 became a synonym with the World Trade Center and an opportune excuse to invade other countries and violate civil rights, it was the date of another tragic anniversary. On September 11th, 1973, the democratically-elected socialist president of Chile, Salvador Allende, was overthrown by a C.I.A.-backed military coup that lead to the totalitarian dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and subsequently, the death and disappearance of thousands of Chileans… and the exile of many others.
Lots of Chileans escaping from the horrors of their hometown during the mid-seventies were welcomed and made their new homes in the progressive Bay Area. Today, there’s a still a tightly knit Chilean community in San Francisco and Berkeley: political exiles, their children, and lots of recent immigrants, many of whom besides sharing their despise for the murderous dictatorship, use art as a way to express their painful memories of a past time that they don’t want to be forgotten.
On 9/11/08, a multidisciplinary group of Chilean artists gathered in San Francisco’s Mission District to commemorate the date with a special event called Reconstructing The Empire’s Memory. With live music provided by the young Andean folklorists Los Materos and art pieces by artists like Tania Figueroa, Pescador, Yael Martinez, Dennis Maxwell, Ester Vines, Monica Alvarez, Fernando Torres and many others. Click here for photos from the event.
(The event goes on until Saturday, September 13th at Workspace Limited, 2150 Folsom St)