Hannah K. Grimmer — Tengo el puño esperanza(d)o porque todo cambiará. Artistic Practices and Social Movements in Santiago de Chile for the 18-O
With the socialist government of Salvador Allende (1970–73) and the civil-military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973–90), Chile is a country whose recent past has been heavily contested, particularly during the transition to democracy. A homogenisation shaped the country’s memory discourse based on unification and victimization (Richard 2001), whereas coming to terms with the past and a profound transformation of the social system never took place. Therefore, large sections of society remained dissatisfied with the transition. In the evolution of the protest movements, the demands for change have become increasingly louder and artists play a crucial role for this. It is from the cultural sphere where a contradiction to the official memory discourse of unity and agreement takes place. The artists, especially in the urban sphere, act as memory activists (Gutman/Wüstenberg 2021).
In Chile, we can observe a development of the connection between the fields of art and movement, as well as in the field of memory: During the period of Allende, visual artists supported this political project mainly through painting, posters, and murals. During the dictatorship, artists had to develop conceptual forms of expression to escape censorship (C.A.D.A.) or they carried out their work at great risk (BRP). The social movements – pupil (2006), student (2011), feminist (2018), and the “social awakening” (2019) – were important milestones that led to the growth and amplification of art in the public sphere.
It is equally important that in the revolt of 2019, the revitalisation of solidarity practices and a sense of community of pre-1973 culminates through neighbourhood meetings, ollas communes (soup kitchens) and assemblies (Garcés 2020). At the same time, past struggles and resistance movements against the dictatorship are being remembered more and more (Badilla 2019). In the arts, role models of the past are brought back to life as well as past struggles and previous hopes are integrated in the present.
The aim is to analyse how mnemonic recourses are represented in contemporary urban art, how the artists interpret the past and which events and demands they particularly highlight.
Hannah K. Grimmer is a German cultural scientist and curator with a focus on memory studies and art from Latin America. She earned her master’s degree in Curatorial Studies at Goethe University and Städelschule, Frankfurt (2019), and her two bachelor’s degrees in Cultural Studies and Romance Studies at the University of Leipzig (2016).
Her initial interest in Latin America was sparked while living in Mexico City in 2012. She gained further experience abroad during a semester at the Université Nanterre in Paris and during a year at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Concomitant to researching for her bachelor’s thesis, she was an intern at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago de Chile. Further developing her research, in her master’s thesis she dealt with artistic re-presentation of detenidos desaparecidos in contemporary art from Chile and Argentina.
Throughout her academic career, Hannah was involved in various exhibitions projects, worked as an art mediator, wrote several journalistic articles, and gave lectures at conferences. After a curatorial fellowship at Gropius Bau Berlin in 2019/20, she began her PhD project. She is based in Berlin and works as a research associate and PhD candidate at both the University of Kassel and documenta-Institute. In her PhD project, she investigates the connection between art, social movements, and memory activism. It is supervised by Prof. Liliana Gómez, Dr. habil. Jens Kastner and Prof. Astrid Erll.