According to Octavio Paz, it is during the vibrancy and intensity of a fiesta that Mexicans reveal their true colors. If the same can be said of Chile, then the photographic exhibition “Chile en Fiesta” provides the perfect amalgamation of the Chilean character.
The exhibition in the Centro Cultural de La Moneda displays a selection of photos by Alejandra Undurraga and Catalina Riutort, accompanied by excerpts from Catalina Darraidou’s book “Chile en fiesta,” in which the photographs appear. The pictures cover a wide spectrum of the country’s festivals: from the vivid colors and fluttering flags of the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Las Peñas in the Arica and Parinacota regions to feather headdresses and barefoot dances of the Mapuche Ngillatun celebrations in the Araucanía region.
The photos highlight the diversity of Chilean festivities. “In our country we celebrate traditional, secular and religious fiestas, which for the most part demonstrate the syncretism produced between the native indigenous view of the world and the Hispanic culture from the 16th century onwards. We have fiestas that pay homage to the Virgin Mary, give thanks to Pachamama (Mother Earth), venerate patron saints and nurture the souls of the dead," reads the introduction to the exhibition. "We are a country that celebrates a lot more than it thinks it does.”
While the right wall of the exhibition displays single, striking images from a variety of celebrations, the left is divided into sections for each fiesta. Each section contains three to four photos and a paragraph from the book printed onto the wall. Given the astounding variety of photos in the book, it must have been a difficult task choosing which fiestas to put on display.
The final wall of the exhibition displays an enlarged image of a Semana Santa procession. The statue of a purple-robed Christ bearing a cross and being carried amongst a sea of faces is accompanied by the eerie and somber beat of music that clashes with the more lively photos in the display, but fits perfectly with the final image. It also drives some visitors out the exhibition.
The combination of photos effectively captures the collective effervescence of Chilean celebrations. The mix of the indigenous and the Hispanic, the sacred and the profane, all combine to provide a microcosm of Chilean society and remind onlookers of the diversity that still exists.
“Chile en fiesta” runs until October 12.
CHILE EN FIESTA
Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda
6 September - 12 October