Alfredo Jaar: An Artist for Chile and Beyond

The latest issue of Paula has an interview with the artist Alfredo Jaar. I was delighted to stumble upon this article, especially since I only picked up Paula to get me through the take-off portion of my flight. As the video above demonstrates, Jaar is an arresting speaker and last year in Santiago I had the pleasure of hearing him talk about his project for Chile’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Continue reading

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Footnote: America and the Spanish-English Divide

When all is said and done I’m going to have around 800 footnotes in my dissertation. I love footnotes. It appeases the loyal, “leave-no-man-behind” streak in my personality. Since I’m dealing with Chilean subject matter my bibliography is nearly exclusively in Spanish. I’ve already spent half of my research/writing time translating so I made an executive decision to leave a few words in their natural state—travesía, obra—because the English translations just aren’t up to snuff. All of which I explain in my ~800 footnotes. Continue reading

Ladies with Lots of Last Names

ca. 1860-1873, Santiago

ca. 1860-1873

In Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez’s heroine faces discrimination due to her less than stellar origins: though Fermina Daza’s father is a mule driver, he dreams of catapulting her into the elite through marriage. Fermina’s father succeeded, much to the surprise of the other young ladies vying to be Juvenal Urbino’s bride. Especially since many of these ladies were actually ladies, and part of Juvenal’s social orbit by virtue of their multiple last names. García Márquez communicated this subtle critique of class politics through a lovely visual, like a string of pearls (how suitable), and I was reminded of it today when I read the third installment of “La Mujer Chilena en la Memoria,” a series from the Society section of El Mercurio. Continue reading

Microbus Art

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One of the best things about living in Chile this side of 2007 is that the yellow buses are gone. When I first lived in Santiago in 2005 I avoided this mode of transport: not only were there no formal bus stops, but the buses rarely stopped. Also, people called them micros. Not autobús as I had obediently learned sometime in high school; you could fill tomes with Spanish I thought people spoke. But I digress. This is an important anecdote because in Chile a city bus is called a microbús, abbreviated simply to micro in commuter-speak. Somewhere in this abbreviation this critical terms jumps gender and becomes “la micro,” which to my institutional Spanish sounds like cats screeching every time I hear it. All of this is mingled into my loathing of the yellow micros and all the commuters with nostalgia for the old system are sentimental loons. Continue reading