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Arpillera Exhibition in Sendai

Simple stories

· Museums,History,Events

Human nature has a great ability to transmit our knowledge and our memories to the next generations. Our memories of the past, our unique experience can be preserved and transmitted in many forms - written text, photographs, drawings - and every way of preserving and transmitting one’s experience has its’ own advantages.

Some of the memories are easy to tell. Bright, this-happens-to-everyone-type of stories don’t require any special means to present them to the world. But there are other memories. Memories so painful, so unbelievable, that it takes a great strength to start talking about them. And it is even harder to choose the right form for the story - the one that will make the reader/listener etc. to feel the experience of the storyteller, to live one more small life in the shoes of someone else. 

In Chile, years 1973-1990 were harsh and violent. Pinochet’s military regime brought about severe human rights violations, including killings and torture, and Chile’s economy was rapidly falling apart. Women of Chile, especially those from working-class households, were struggling to survive and feed their children, while their husbands, parents, children disappeared without a trace. In this atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, Vicariate of Solidarity, Catholic organization inspired by liberation theory, organized patchwork workshops, where woman gathered to share their experiences , tell their stories and create simple pictures based on them by sewing together pieces of old clothes. The resulting works were sold overseas both to provide some income to struggling Chilean households and to testify the atrocities of the military regime. This is the beginning of Arpilleras - brightly colored patchwork pictures that depict Chilean women experience of life under military dictatorship.

Arpillera are very simple in form. Mostly produced by amateurs, they present stories that could be understood by everyone. Beautiful Andean landscapes. Women marching and soldiers with rifles confronting them. Small towns with pretty little houses. People being killed. People disappearing to never come back to their families. Bright blue skies.

These priceless memories of the past that happened not so long ago will be on display in Sendai from May 30 to June 16th in Tokyo Electron Hall.

There are many ways to tell a story. There are many ways to know the story. Discover one more story of violence and resistance to violence here, in Sendai.

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