Følgende tekst er tatt fra utstillingskatalogen til Actions of Art and Solidarity, kuratert av Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA). Vi jobber fortløpende med å oversette teksten til norsk.
The now legendary Operación Verdad (Operation Truth) was launched in Chile in 1971 by the newly elected socialist democracy government of Salvador Allende, to resist an international and defamatory campaign by US-backed right-wing opposition forces. Reflecting Allende’s commitment to the centrality of art in society (and the rights of the working classes to access culture), Operación Verdad was an unprecedented move conceived to counter disinformation and resist the attack. Through it, Chile opened its doors to international journalists, intellectuals, artists and others interested in witnessing and bringing testimony globally to the democratic reality of the country. One such visitor was the Spanish art critic José María Moreno Galván who, while on his trip, came up with the idea of creating a museum based on the donations of artists wishing to express solidarity with Chile’s new democracy. Joining forces with the Brazilian art critic and curator Mario Pedrosa, then in exile in Chile, they took the idea to President Allende. The Museo de la Solidaridad was born soon afterwards.
Chaired by Pedrosa, the Comité Internacional de Solidaridad Artística con Chile (CISAC) (International Committee of Artistic Solidarity with Chile) was mandated to initiate the Museum’s collection. It did so by launching an open global call that rapidly generated hundreds of donations by a wide range of European, Latin American and US artists, aided by local art critics and intellectuals in liaison with Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and their outposts in Mexico, Spain, France, Argentina and the UK, among other countries.
The US-backed military coup d’état of 1973, and Allende’s death as a result, brought a violent end to Latin America’s first socialist democracy and ushered in the right-wing dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, who held power until 1990. All those working with the MSSA, as well as large parts of the collection, were forced into immediate exile in Cuba, Mexico and France, amongst other locations. In the process many pieces were lost, confiscated by the Pinochet government or destroyed, while others that had been held at embassies or in customs were returned to the donors for their safety.
Between 1975 and 1990, the Museum was transformed into the Museo Internacional de la Resistencia (MIRSA) – International Museum of Resistance Salvador Allende. This decision was made to bring greater visibility to the resistance movement by Chilean exiles and their allies globally. In its new form MIRSA constituted itself as a museum in exile, exhibiting parts of its collection internationally. Its radical practice was an inspiration to other projects such as ‘Art Contre/Against Apartheid’ (1983) and the Plastic Art Section of the PLO’s exhibition in Beirut (1978). Different organisations launched support committees to help continue the collection of artworks in exile as a symbolic support for Chilean democracy. The Coordinados desde Casa de las Américas (Cuba) (Coordinators from the House of the Americas) were among the first to do so, with similar initiatives following in Panama, Colombia, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Algeria and other countries.
The Pinochet regime did its best to erase the material and symbolic power of the Museum globally, given its power as a symbol of solidarity and democracy in Chile (both hallmarks of Allende’s ideology). However, a sustained international outcry in response to the dramatic turn of events led to a number of important displays of solidarity with the people of Chile. Amongst them was the Venice Biennale whose 1974 edition was called ‘Libert. per il Cile’ (Freedom for Chile), and the newly formed Artists for Democracy group founded by Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña, Argentine artist David Medalla, British artist John Dugger, and British critic Guy Brett who in 1974 organised the ‘Arts Festival for Democracy in Chile’ at The Royal College of Art in London.
With the end of Pinochet’s dictatorship, MIRSA was able to return to Chile in 1991 to fulfil its original mission, transforming into the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende (MSSA), and has operated in this form until today. In 2005, MSSA created the Fundación Arte y Solidaridad (FAS) (The Art and Solidarity Foundation), which took charge of the administration, dissemination, investigation and safeguarding of the collection.
Whilst containing major works by well-known artists like Alexander Calder, Lygia Clark, Roberto Matta, Joan Miró and Frank Stella, the MSSA’s collection is mostly composed of works by artists outside of the western art canon. The utopian idea of creating a museum based on donations organised on the rationale of solidarity distinguishes the Museum from the neoliberal and market logics that increasingly structure museums today. Instead, the MSSA offers an enduring and resilient model of alternative museological standards in which a major art institution can organise and structure itself around a radical dedication to democracy, equality and social justice.