Ethan Madarieta

Creative Resistance and Performances of Memory: Latin America in the Era of Neoliberalism

In1981, seven years into Chile’snearly seventeen-year dictatorship, the Chilean art collective CADA (Art Actions Collective) performed ¡Ay Sudamerica!, in which they dropped400,000 flyers containing a utopian poem over the periphery of Santiago from five military airplanes. The performance was a reference to September 11, 1973, when Chilean military planes dropped bombs on the presidential palace, La Moneda, marking the end of democratically elected president Salvador Allende’sSocialist government. Thisreferential gesturemade the sky a space in which memory could be performed and thus transformed. This transformation requires attunement to the mnemonic imagination, where imagination is the improvisatory space in which memory is given meaning in relation to past and present experience. Instead of bombs the planes dropped poems, and instead of dropping them on the then symbolic center of national politics they flew over the city’s periphery where many indigenous and economically insecure people lived and worked. The poem asserted that the only valid and worthwhile art was that art which expanded livable space and increased the standard of living.  It stated that every single person is an artist whose actions work toward this goal, “even if only in the mind. ”This form of politics reimagines effective social and political change as happening in people’s everyday lives instead of solely in political organizations and institutions. The extraordinary act of memorial transformation in ¡Ay Sudamerica! posits the possibility for disrupting neoliberal social and economic restructuring through performing potentiality alternative to the given knowledges which materially structure our world. It asserts that these performances find in the creative aspect of memory the mutability of social structures and the world.These performances are the manifestations of potentiality happening in the creative processes of meaning making, and are thus effective disruptions of hegemonic “common sense.”  

(Excerpt from Ethan's proposal)