A Chile (To Chile)

Elías Adasme

Illapel, Chile, 1955
Recent acquisition
  • Date: 
  • Technique: 
    Digital print on cotton paper
  • Descriptive technique: 
    Record of an Art Action consisting of five photographs
  • Dimensions: 
    175 x 113 cm (each one)
  • Edition/serial number: 
    2/5 + 1 A.P.
  • Category: 
    Photography, Action
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

A Chile (To Chile, 1979-1980) is one of the pieces that best represents Elías Adasme’s body of work. It was exhibited at the Paris Biennale in 1982, but never in his own country, as the artist fled in exile to Puerto Rico in 1983 following several arrests and death threats from the Pinochet regime. Adasme belongs to the group of artists that author Nelly Richard called the "Advanced Scene", by which she referred to a series of practices that emerged in Chile during the military dictatorship on the unofficial edges of the art world. These artists developed strategies of artistic activism and counter-narratives which were carried out through performance and intervention in public spaces. Four of the five panels that make up the work show actions performed by the artist between December 1979 and December 1980. The fifth describes the public places where the images of the photo-performances were displayed and the amount of time that these remained in the streets of the city of Santiago, as frequently they were quickly ripped down by citizens who supported the regime or by the police. Together, the images trace a map of pain, represented by the artist’s semi-nude body, standing straight up or hanging upside-down, next to the longitudinal map of Chile, used, in Adasme’s words "as a metaphor and in opposition to the space socially 'constructed' as: private - public - intimate." The presence of the artist's injured body brings to mind the torture and disciplinary subjugation imposed by the Pinochet regime. The location of one of the actions in the Salvador station in Santiago de Chile also brings to mind the frustration of those who put their trust in the mired-down government of Salvador Allende.

Lola Hinojosa