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The platform is planning to do a similar work into cities like Valparaiso and Antofagasta, which have also been pulled into social unrest.
The walls of Chile’s capital Santiago are bearing witness to the biggest wave of protests in the country’s democratic history, becoming makeshift canvasses for dozens of artists looking to reflect the social discontent through the medium of street art.
An interpretation of Pablo Picasso’s Guernica on the outer wall of the Veracruz Church in the Lastarria neighborhood of the capital is among the murals that have caught the attention of passersby.
The bull, the horse and the mother cradling dead son in her arms - subjects found in Picasso’s original piece from 1937 depicting a bombing during the Spanish Civil War - have been swapped out for disfigured eyes, tear bombs, burned subway stations and “pacos,” the colloquial name given to Chile’s police, which faces serious accusations of human rights violations including violence, rape, and kidnapping.
“This work by Miguel Angel Kastro synthesizes the horror we have experienced in the last two months,” said Juan Pablo Prado, one of the founders of Dignity Museum, a civic platform that seeks to preserve some of the artworks born from the protests.
Inspired by open-air exhibitions like the East Side Gallery on the remnants of the Berlin Wall, the seven members of this museum select the graffiti on the walls of Santiago they deem most representative of the unrest.
Once selected, the works are framed in gilded wood and incorporated into a catalog on Instagram, where the location of the piece, the name of the artist behind it and the techniques used, are detailed for potential visitors.
“Something about the frames makes people stop and think, like a museum,” Prado added. The museum has already curated 14 works and is about to add another dozen or so, all in Santiago.
The first framed work was a collage by Caiozzama, a renowned Chilean graffiti artist who drew Jesus Christ surrounded by police officers with the message: “Don’t forgive them, they know exactly what they’re doing.”
“Santiago has become a public museum. I am fascinated by the representation of (Chilean poet and Nobel prize winner) Gabriela Mistral with a Chilean flag died black as a sign of mourning,” Prado said.
There is hardly a blank space on the walls around Dignity Square - formely known as Italy Square -, the epicenter of the protests in the capital.
“There are times that we find a work we like, measure it to buy the frame, only to return to find that is has gone. That’s the magic of street art,” Prado said. “The walls are the printing press of the people.”
Images of Camilo Catrillanca, an Indigenous man killed by police a year ago, are interspersed with portraits of ousted former president Salvador Allende and former dictator Augusto Pinochet. Some 23 people have been killed so far in the protests, while around 3,000 have been injured.
Massive demonstrations against the Chilean government began in Santiago on Oct. 14 due to a 30-cent increase in the subway fare.
While this measure was revoked by Piñera, social unrest increased in magnitude as the Chileans began to question "30 years" of neoliberal policies, which have implied a systematic withdrawal of economic and social rights for millions of people.