Future remnants of a missing word
April 1 - May 15, 2016
Opening April 1, 7-10 PM
An Exhibition by Shahrzad Changalvaee and Constanza Alarcón Tennen.
Utopia is the no-place where future remnants of a missing world can finally liberate the present from an overloaded history. Wounds are then allowed to turn into scars, scars into hope. The no-place of utopia is a place somewhere in between, where distant voices meet and fertilize. One wipes the tears of the other, while the other inspires the heart of the one. Victor Jara and Ahmad Shamloo probably never met. Shamloo, the Iranian poet came into Jara, the Chilean singer by grace. Something in Chile’s recent history resounded in the Iranian one, and lead the Iranian poet to translate some of the songs of the Chilean singer, which years later, connected us together.
The brutality of History hits in different ways the direct victims and those who, likes us two in Chile and in Iran, grew up as a following generation and lived the long-term consequences. Memory breathes heavily next to your ears, as an amorphous and heavy stepping monster, when culture and society do not face it, nor deal with its underlying presence.
Histories do not mirror each other but analogies recall one another. In 1953, a coup supported by the CIA took place in Iran right after the nationalization of oil. In 1973, a coup in Chile violently divided the nation in two, ending a process of social empowerment that included the nationalization of copper, and replaced it with a military dictatorship that installed torture, terror, and killing as pervasive practices. Victor Jara was killed in the aftermath of the Chilean coup. Ahmad Shamloo was isolated by the ideological regime after the Islamic revolution of Iran in 1979, which is considered a consequence of the 1953 coup.
We want to believe that parallel stories reverberate and we can make something out them, no matter how modest it may be. What has been recorded is barely enough to get a glimpse of the complexities of the places and people whose voices were silenced by violence.
In performing here we attempt to open a lyrical space where our separated geographies converge into a collective memory, both social and political; and where difference surrenders to what may be common: our hopes, sorrows, pains, songs and bodies.
Constanza Alarcón Tennen (Santiago, Chile. 1986) is a multidisciplinary artist.
She graduated from Universidad Católica de Chile (BFA 2009) and from Yale University (MFA 2015). Her work has been shown internationally in groups and solo exhibitions such as Migratorry Patterns (NYC, 2015), Time Item, (New Haven, 2015), Y sin embargo se mueve (Santiago, 2012), among others. She is a founding member of Grupo < >, an organization of female artists of Latin American descent, dedicated to open a conversation around issues of politics, migration and identity of artists connected to a larger America. In recent projects they have shown their work and gave a series of lecture/performances called Subgenera of Contradictions. In 2010 she received a FONDART, a grant to develop the project Y sin embargo se mueve and for the publication of catalogue. She was awarded with a CONICYT scholarship that allowed her to pursue her MFA studies. In 2015 she received the Susan H. Whedon Award for outstanding student in Sculpture when she graduated from her MFA. In April 2016, she will be participating in the AIM program of the Bronx Museum. Constanza lives and works between Santiago and NYC.
Shahrzad Changalvaee (Tehran, Iran 1983) is a multidisciplinary artist.
In her works, she links different mediums, uses studio materials and found images to build narratives around language, desire and the process of making. She received her BA from Tehran University in 2009 and her MFA from Yale School of Art in 2015. Her work has been shown in different exhibitions and venues such as "Video Mixer" (Philadelphia, 2016), "Ksi,Ein and An" (New York, 2015), "Time Item" (New Haven, 2015), among others. Since 2013, she has been working on Two-Headed Imagonacy, an on-going lecture-performance project in collaboration with Iman Raad. The project speaks about the relation between art and history with focus on Persian Script. In 2011 she received the runner-up prize from Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize. Shahrzad lives and works between New Haven and NYC.
Victor Jara was a major protagonist in the latest show, Future remnants of a missing word. His voice singing, “Yo no canto por cantar,” echoed in various sound and video pieces. On Monday, a former Chilean military officer was found liable for his torture and murder. This comes 43 years after Jara’s death.
Please take a moment to watch the piece and read the words from Constanza Alarcón Tennen on the recent indictment.
When Shahrzad and I started working on this project we were aware of the judicial processes that were taking place in order to extradite Barrientos, and we were following the case closely, but the criminal was nowhere to be seen and it seemed that to achieve justice was more in the realm of hop than reality. This was one of the reasons why we felt it was so important to do this project, because the case is still open and because it is a story not fully told yet. The aftermaths of that dark period are still very present in the lives of the people in Chile. But we were to be surprised.
On Monday the 27th a jury found Barrientos guilty for the murder of Victor Jara in a civil lawsuit that took place in Orlando, Florida. Barrientos, a former Luitenant from the Chilean military, was indicted in 2009 for the torture and murder of the Chilean singer, but from the group of 10 military men accused (the 10 indicted for participating in the crime), Barrientos was the only one who fled out of Chile after the end of the dictatorship, becoming a U.S citizen in the early 90´s.
The outcome of the trial, though a gigantic step towards breaking the silence that has characterized the Chilean military- when it comes to facing the brutality of the crimes that took place in that dark era in Chile- is also a reminder of the bittersweet reality of seeking justice. Seeking justice is only a consequence of having to seek justice. In other words, if truth wasn’t hidden, or if human lives and liberties weren´t disrupted, terminated or silenced, then this moment wouldn’t be necessary.
But don’t get me wrong. I am not by any means trying to take away the weight of this. It is huge, and I can only imagine the relief or consolation that Victor Jara’s family must be feeling now, and if possible, perhaps this step towards justice made the pain a bit less heavy.
Chile has requested the extradition of Barrientos a few times, but because the man became a U.S citizen it hasn’t been possible. It’s a funny thing how the law works. He hasn’t been extradited, which means he hasn't faced the murder and torture charges and potential conviction that would await for him in Chile, but because of the Torture Victim Protection Act, Jara´s family with the aid of CJA, were able to file a civil suit against the murderer of their loved one in this country.
Hopefully the result of the trial will help the process of extradition, perhaps give some sort of closure, if that’s even possible. But symbolically, to seek justice for Victor Jara, so his story is told with the truth it deserves, in a way represents all the other non-public faces whose stories were silenced, the hundreds whose killers walk freely today.
Perhaps to extradite Barrientos will empower the people of Chile and will make us face our own History, to face the dark shadow that stills walks un-healed and un-spoken, but above all, will help us remember, that something like this, can never happen again.
Constanza Alarcón Tennen, June 2016.
More information about the case can be found here.
 The Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 (TVPA; Pub.L. 102–256, H.R. 2092, 106 Stat. 73, enacted March 12, 1992) is a statute that allows for the filing of civil suits in the United States against individuals who, acting in an official capacity for any foreign nation, committed torture and/or extrajudicial killing.
 Center for Justice & Accountability