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Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende (MSSA), CL

Venue: Gropius Bau

Was also part of: exp. 1

Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende (MSSA), CL

Founded 1971 in Santiago, CL

Gracia Barrios, born 1927 in Santiago – died 2020 in Santiago
José Gamarra, born 1934 in Tacuarembó, UY – lives and works in Paris, FR
Teresa Gazitúa, born 1941 in Santiago – lives and works in Santiago
Beatriz González, born 1938 in Bucaramanga, CO – lives and works in Bogotá, CO
Claude Lazar, born 1947 in Alexandria, EG – lives and works in Paris
Clemencia Lucena, born 1945 in Bogotá – died 1983 in Cali, CO
Teresa Montiel, born 1942 in Chile – lives and works in Paris
Taller 4 Rojo (Diego Arango, Nirma Zárate), founded 1971 in Bogotá – disbanded 1974
Diego Arango, born 1942 Manizales, CO – died 2017 in Bogotá
Nirma Zárate, born 1936 in Bogóta – died 1999 in Bogotá
María Teresa Toral, born 1911 in Madrid, ES – died 1994 in Madrid
Maria Helena Vieira Da Silva, born 1908 in Lisbon, PT – died 1992 in Paris
Artists from El pueblo tiene arte con Allende, 1970

Can a museum be a weapon? The Museo de la Solidaridad (1971–73) has its origins in a small-scale counter-information campaign called Operación Verdad (Operation Truth), which was devised to defend Salvador Allende’s presidency and “revolution without arms” from a CIA-sponsored international smear campaign. As an act of political solidarity with the struggle of the Chilean people, artists from around the world were asked to donate works towards the creation of an anti-imperialist experimental art institution for the “underprivileged of the Third World.” The artworks collected would form the basis for the Museum of Solidarity, containing “the cultural and artistic contradictions of the century,” and founded on the principle that art and politics are inseparable.

Conceived as a free museum open to all and aimed at challenging the geopolitical monopoly of art and the privileges sustained by museums of capitalist metropoles, the Museum of Solidarity offered a collection “for the people, by the people.” Over 700 artworks had been received by the time of the military coup on September 11, 1973. All of these works were confiscated by the military, but from 1975 to 1989 those originally responsible for the museum, then political refugees, began to rebuild the collection under the name Museo Internacional de la Resistencia Salvador Allende (International Museum of Resistance Salvador Allende). It functioned as an itinerant museum-in-exile, with newly donated works to be exhibited around the globe.

During the process of redemocratization, the museum’s many lives converged in the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, established in 1992. Gathering the disappeared artworks and those dispersed abroad, the institution’s original intention to radically question prevalent criteria of value in art was often undermined by the need to justify its precarious subsistence through exhibiting works by well-known artists in the collection. The selection presented here focuses on rarely seen works, mostly by Latin American artists, which convey the struggles that gave life to the museum “whose very name was already a program.”

María Berríos

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