“Portraits of memory”: a general plan of our Chile


“Photography and writing are an attempt to capture those moments before they fade. They set reminders to give life meaning.

Isabel Allende

Despite technological advances, we continue to believe that a photograph holds, in addition to memories, that unrepeatable moment we share, and for this reason we give it a value that only memory can contain, since it is the one that clearly shows what we already know, it was, as Marcel Proust states in his book “In Search of Lost Time”, when he says that “it is better to dream your life than to live it, even if living it is also dreaming it”. What sometimes seems like a play on words is nothing more than what photography achieves, covering even the most banal moment with that particular halo.

This is exactly what “Retratos de la memoria” is looking for, which on this occasion celebrates its 15th anniversary, saving the diversity of our territories, through a selection of photographs shared by the community, taken between 1890 and 1990, with a in which, unlike other deposits of visual documents, he places the emphasis on the Chilean municipality who makes use of the family album, letting it be known that day that he knew the sea, the snow or when he had to work at 17 in the Medicine of Ronda, which in 1978 was a vital aid to the inhabitants of Colchane, on the Chilean-Bolivian border at an altitude of 4,500 meters in the Tarapacá region, or perhaps you are remembering your first communion with your brothers, or you are part of a parade school in the city of Portezuelo.

An incomparable heritage that accounts for the daily rituals in which we live, and of which there is almost no trace or vice versa, is an invaluable photographic material, little considered but which, the Mediation and Education Area of ​​the Museum of Fine Arts of Santiago, year after year it saves through an open tender where the protagonist is the people, since the central idea is to give it a founding character that manages to articulate a genealogy, geography and chronology of a somewhat misunderstood Chile, and as María affirms José Cuello González, mediation professional: “This roundup is an opportunity to talk about the stories of anonymous people, mentioned as ‘non-celebrities’, who are left out of official accounts, but who deserve to be told.”

“Portraits of Memory”, also fills an important gap in making the registry visible and democratizing, and this is demonstrated by the more than 3,000 participants, who have joined from the most remote corners of the country, adapting to themes as dissimilar as: Games and toys , Environment, immigrants and indigenous peoples, Music and dance, School stories, Our daily life in times of social transformation, just to name a few that certainly reveal a spectrum that, expanding, shows us more emotion than that anonymous Chilean, like you or me, who is part of a context in which not only the remote past participates, nor the recent one – known to all – and who in one way or another takes charge of other scenarios, because as one reads in an inscription in the National Stadium: “A city without memory is a city without a future”.

The interesting thing is that with “Portraits of Memory” the museum opens up to the possibility of public participation by co-constructing a common story-portrait that stands out for its simplicity and spontaneity, recovering what often ends up being forgotten, or Persian fair and which is lost as a record or which simply passes without pain or glory, but although it may not seem like it, it is part of this historical continuum which is built as a community through a collective exercise of heritage memory, which, as already mentioned, does not obeys one or another moment in time, but is rather the result of an exhaustive exploration, as varied as it is ductile, and which ultimately does not provide signs that prefigure the identity axis of a nation, which allows us to recognize ourselves in our simpler affairs. Each of which is reflected in a book and an exhibition that narrates this journey.

Likewise, the fact of inviting new possibilities constitutes a contribution, since other aspects can arise from this practice which allow us to feel more closely that Chile which, above the territory, builds itself through transformation and permanent inclusion , and surely that As this “Portrait of Memory” progresses over the years, it will show a different, and much more diversified, face.

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  • The content expressed in this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of The meter.



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