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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

ARTIST STATEMENT

We remember freedom
We remember justice
We remember joy
We remember earth
We remember water
We remember one another
We remember
and begin again
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There is freedom in the spaces between us.  
Freedom we make in relation to one another,  
rooted in collective memory,
practiced in the present moment.  
It is the fertile ground for the emergence of our collective vision of new futures.  
 
These freedoms are in the making. They remind us that while we aren’t always able to achieve our goals, together, our political practices become spaces for cultivating freedom.

I witnessed this from afar when mass mobilizations swept Chile in October 2019. Catalyzed by high school students protesting metro fare hikes, mobilizations drew millions into the streets to protest systemic economic inequities rooted in the neoliberal economic policies of the military dictatorship.  As the protests grew, so did the visible web of interconnected struggles-- pension plans for the elderly, access to quality health care and education, indigenous sovereignty, violence against women, state violence, extractive land practices, LGBTQ rights, etc.  “Chile Despertó!” people chanted as they reclaimed public spaces throughout the city and across the country and made them spaces for public dialogue and collective action. A collective remembering of past movements fused with the present moment fueled an awakening.

One outcome: a new constitution written by an elected council of ordinary citizens to replace the one written under military rule. Chileans are writing their future one step at a time, beginning with closing the chapter on the military dictatorship. It is happening in a space held for reimagining and co-creating a democracy where human and social rights are fundamental.

This poster reflects on this process. Images of contemporary social movements are woven together with images from the Unidad Popular to create a collective “we” across space and time.  The colors of the Mapuche flag remind us Chile is on unceded Wallmapu territory and that we need to center the voices of indigenous communities in today’s movements for dignity and change. The circle of circles represent the collective and sacred spaces where we create freedom together.

ARTIST BIO

Javiera Benavente is a facilitator, educator and artist interested in the practice and imagination of collective freedom and what this teaches us about creating new futures of care. She was born in Santiago, Chile (Wallmapu) three months before the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende abruptly came to an end as a result of a military coup. She has been preoccupied with the legacy of this utopian political project, and it’s failure, ever since. Javiera received her B.A. in Latin American Studies and Community Studies from UC Santa Cruz and was mentored by a Chilean women’s collective that organized against the military dictatorship, while addressing issues of economic survival and women’s rights. They taught her that political organizing can be woven into the fabric of friendship and daily life.  Javiera received her artistic training in physical theatre, improvisation and living culture at Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield, MA. She directs the Ethics & Common Good Project at Hampshire College.  Javiera lives in Amherst, MA with her partner, young daughter, and dog on unceded Pocomptuc land.  

 


We Remember (Recordamos); acuarela, tinta e imágenes sobre papel; 2020.

Recordamos la libertad
Recordamos la justicia
Recordamos la alegría
Recordamos la tierra
Recordamos el agua
Recordamos los unos a las otros
Recordamos
Y empezamos de nuevo
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En los espacios entre nosotros hay libertad.
Libertad que construimos en relación con otros, con otras.
Libertad arraigada a la memoria colectiva,
hecha realidad en el momento presente.
Es el terreno fértil donde crece nuestra visión de porvenir.

Son libertades en ciernes. Nos recuerdan que, aunque no siempre logremos lo que queremos, todas nuestras prácticas políticas juntas se convierten en espacios para cultivar la libertad.

Esto lo vi de lejos en octubre de 2019, cuando grandes movilizaciones sociales se apoderaron de Chile. Catalizadas por las manifestaciones estudiantiles contra el alza de tarifas de autobús, millones de personas salieron a las calles para protestar contra las desigualdades económicas sistémicas originadas por la política económica neoliberal de la dictadura militar. Con el aumento de las manifestaciones, creció la red visible de luchas por diferentes causas: planes de jubilación para ancianos, acceso a atención médica y educación apropiadas, soberanía indígena, violencia contra las mujeres, violencia estatal, prácticas extractivas en tierras y derechos de la población LGBTQ, entre otros. “¡Chile despertó!” cantaban las personas mientras recuperaban espacios públicos por toda la ciudad para convertirlos en espacios de discurso público y acción colectiva. La fusión de la memoria colectiva de movimientos sociales pasados con el momento presente impulsó este despertar.

Un logro: una nueva constitución escrita por un consejo electo de gente común para reemplazar la hecha por el gobierno militar. Paso a paso, la población chilena escribe su futuro y empieza a cerrar el capítulo de la dictadura militar. Esto ocurre en un espacio para reinventarse y crear una democracia colectiva en la que los derechos humanos y sociales son fundamentales.

Este cartel reflexiona sobre dicho proceso. Las imágenes de movimientos sociales contemporáneos se entrelazan con imágenes de la Unidad Popular para formar un “nosotros” a través del espacio y el tiempo. Los colores de la bandera Mapuche nos recuerdan que Chile está en territorio Wallmapu no cedido y que la voz de las comunidades indígenas necesita estar en el centro de los movimientos que luchan por dignidad y cambio en la actualidad. El círculo de círculos representa los espacios colectivos y sagrados donde creamos juntos la libertad.

 

Javiera Benevente's poster, "We Remember". A collage of images has been painted over to look like the Mapuche flag. Blue on top, green on the bottom, and yellow dots in a circle in the center. The collage of photos in the middle are of various crowds protesting and holding up signs.

We Remember, 2021

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