Hemispheric Photographic Collaborations: Susan Meiselas, Chile from within (1990) and Chile desde adentro (2015)
Ángeles Donoso Macaya
(BMCC - City University of New York)
Paper short abstract:
My presentation considers the dissemination, (re)contextualizations, and reception of Chile from within, a collective project that documents life under dictatorship in Chile. The book was edited by Susan Meiselas in collaboration with the photographers who made the photos in Chile in the 1980s.
Paper long abstract:
In 1988, MAGNUM photographer Susan Meiselas traveled to Santiago, Chile to document the Yes/No referendum that eventually put an end to Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship (1973-1990). In Santiago, she met a group of photographers who had been documenting life under dictatorship for over a decade; Meiselas started to work with them on a book of photographs. Since its conception, Chile from within was formulated as a collaborative documentary project. This collaborative endeavor was "created entirely from within, by witnesses who lived what they focused on," as Chilean writer Marco Antonio De La Parra indicates in the book's introduction, eloquently titled "Fragments of a Self-Portrait." Indeed, one of Meiselas's motivations this project was that the world (the North) could see Chile (the South), not through eyes from afar, but through eyes trained "inside." In 2015, Chile from within was translated into Spanish and published in Chile for the first time. My presentation, for which I interviewed many of the photographers who participated in this project, considers the production, modes of dissemination, (re)contextualizations and reception of Chile from within, both in the U.S. in the 1990s and in Chile in the 2010s. This collective project made "from within" not only allows us to consider the questions this panel seeks to address from a different angle—for instance, the relationship between photographic portraiture and political belonging from a collective point of view—but it also illustrates how photographers such as Meiselas can help building frameworks without necessarily producing images.
Photography and Political Belonging