Students Examine a Brutal Dictatorship Through Art

“Memorias,” a show in Lamarche Gallery through the end of May, explores a tumultuous and painful decade in Chile’s history.

Students in Allen Wells’ Latin American Revolutions course have created a unique political, historical, and artistic guide of sorts to a current art show at Bowdoin.

The show, “Memorias: Geography of a Decade, Chile 1973-1983,” is in Smith Union’s Lamarche Gallery through May 31. Bowdoin is just one stop in its international tour. According to Wells, the exhibit “captures a tumultuous moment in Chile’s history,” from the overthrow of Salvador Allende in 1973 to the first years of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Wells, who is Bowdoin’s Roger Howell, Jr. Professor of History, specializes in Latin America. He and Jenny Baca, a postdoctoral fellow in Latin American Studies, arranged to have the show come to Bowdoin.

Wells’ Latin American Revolutions class studied four revolutionary movements, including Salvador Allende’s democratic socialist experiment, which came to a brutal end on September 11, 1973.

In Baca’s class Environmental Politics of Latin America, students examined Latin America through its global interconnections of commodities, representations, and identities, from colonialism to the present. Baca said the Memorias exhibition culminated her Chile unit, which explored the country’s recent political history through the lens of working class and Mapuche struggles with the forest industry.

The Memorias exhibit is made up of prints by renowned Chilean painters who went into exile, and of posters that retrace a decade of European expressions of solidarity and resistance with the Chilean people. The show also includes photos of the 1973 coup from the Gamma press agency, and a photo-reportage of an exiled group called the Théâtre de la Résistance-Chili.

Wells’ students each selected one or several of the pieces of art to analyze, grounding their analysis in the course readings. In the slideshow below are excerpts from some of those student papers.

Funding for the Bowdoin exhibit came from the Crandall Fund, the Museum of Art and the following departments and programs: Latin American Studies, History, Romance Languages and Literatures, Visual Arts, Government, and Art History.

thumb: