CADA: Colectivo Acciones de Arte

Published at 8 Jan 2021 | Updated at 18 Jan 2021


Brief Orientation

The Colectivo Acciones de Arte—the Collective of Art Actions, known primarily by its Spanish-language acronym CADA—was formed in 1979 in Santiago, Chile. CADA’s performances were intended as a political critique—albeit a coded, oblique one—of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet that had begun six years earlier. Its members made use of a number of different media to postulate a utopian rupture of the boundaries and limitations (among artistic disciplines, within and around art institutions, and upon personal liberties) that the dictatorship had imposed. CADA arose out of the Escena de Avanzada (Advanced Scene), a term coined by theorist Nelly Richard to describe a movement of artists and thinkers working outside of the recognition of official culture under dictatorship. CADA’s five founding members reflected the diverse methodological approaches its members took to producing performance art: two were writers (Diamela Eltit and Raúl Zurita), two were visual artists (Juan Castillo and Lotty Rosenfeld), and one was a sociologist (Fernando Balcells). Moreover, the word cada means “each” in Spanish, and is thus an allusion to the multifaceted nature of CADA’s work. Its performances took place between 1979 and 1985, but CADA remains influential in the Chilean art scene to this day. Several of its members have gone on to have notable solo literary and artistic careers (Eltit, Rosenfeld, and Zurita in particular), and its “art actions” were tremendously influential later on for performance artists such as Elías Adasme, Mario Soro, Pedro Lemebel and Francisco Casas (known together as Las Yeguas del Apocalipsis [the Mares of the Apocalypse]), all of whom used their bodies as artistic vehicles to denounce injustice, much of it gendered. Moreover, CADA is often invoked in Chilean (and Latin American) “memory studies”, which postulates cultural products like CADA’s art actions as key interventions in debates about human rights, democratization, and justice.


Historical Aspects

Chile was the first country in the Americas to democratically elect a Marxist president, Salvador Allende Gossens, who took office in November 1970. Allende introduced a number of social reforms to the country, which historically had been dominated by a powerful oligarchy. His approximately one thousand days in office were also marked by cultural ferment and artistic expression: Allende’s governing coalition, known as the Unidad Popular (Popular Unity), offered ample space and resources so that artists and intellectuals such as Cecilia Vicuña, Ariel Dorfman, and Víctor Jara could develop their work. Allende’s measures to moderate the country’s profound inequality—including the distribution of a minimum amount of milk to all Chilean children who needed it, the nationalization of foreign mining companies, and an agrarian reform—met with major resistance, however. A coup d’état on September 11, 1973, led by Chile’s military with the support of local business interests and the United States’ CIA, installed the army general Augusto Pinochet as the dictator of Chile. Allende committed suicide, and Pinochet remained as president until 1990. The dictatorship imposed a number of limits upon personal and political freedoms; countless citizens were tortured because of their leftist political beliefs, and approximately 3,000 people were executed and disappeared. Many Chileans went into exile. The dictatorship was a dark time for cultural production, due to censorship, the exile of many artists, the closing of academic departments considered politically “subversive” in Chile’s universities, and the regime’s emphasis on economic “development”—specifically, its imposition of University of Chicago-style neoliberal reforms—over cultural initiatives. Many Chileans refer to this period as a time of apagón cultural, or “cultural outage”, although critics such as Nelly Richard, Eugenia Brito, and Claudio Lagos Olivero have come to question this cliché by examining cultural production in the country under dictatorship. Still, the dictatorship comprised a long period of deprivation for many people, in cultural, political, and material terms.

Amidst this time of cultural desolation, some resistance to official culture remained; one was the so-called Escena de Avanzada, or “Advanced Scene”, the movement out of which CADA emerged. Richard, a French-Chilean art critic whose analyses of the work of CADA and other dissident Chilean artists since the 1970s have been extremely influential, was at the center of the Avanzada. Although, according to Robert Neustadt, the Avanzada was “not a concrete movement or group in and of itself” (2000: 21, my translation), Richard coined the term (1986: 17) as a way not only of avoiding “confusion with the nostalgic connotations of the word ‘avant-garde’”, but also to articulate the unique preoccupations of its members: “the intervention in a social body linked to notions of event and time, the blurring of genres and disciplines, [and] the practice of the body as a transcoding vehicle for marginal experiences and discourse” (1986: 21). Despite the Avanzada’s desire to differentiate itself from historical avant-garde movements (a gesture that in itself is a paradigmatically avant-garde act), its liberatory artistic impulses were in line with the avant-garde desire to destroy the auratic elements associated with a traditionalist conception of art, through a process of displacement and reproduction. In the words of Richard, the Avanzada sought to interrogate “every artifice of representation serving tradition and its sleight of hand” as a reaction to “the coup that shattered the preceding framework of social and political experiences” and “all the language and models of signification by which those experiences could be named” (1986: 17-8).

Besides Richard, members of the Avanzada included the artists Francisco Brugnoli, Virginia Errázuriz, Ronald Kay, Eugenio Dittborn, Catalina Parra, Carlos Leppe, and Carlos Altamirano. The University of Chile’s Department of Humanistic Studies (Estudios Humanísticos), which had been created within the supposedly less “subversive” Faculty of Engineering, was one small area of the country where artists and writers could still find institutional support in the late seventies and eighties. The department was home to a number of important artists and critics, including Nicanor Parra, Jorge Guzmán, Enrique Lihn, Patricio Marchant, and Kay. Lihn, along with Alejandro Jodorowsky, had been involved with the first “happenings” in Chile (Neustadt 19), inspired by performances that had originated in New York in the late fifties and early sixties by avant-garde artists such as Claes Oldenburg and Allan Kaprow—important precursors for the Avanzada. CADA members Diamela Eltit and Raúl Zurita began their careers in the department: the former as a student and the latter as an affiliated artist.

CADA arose out of the Avanzada, and despite the united front that all artists involved put up against authoritarianism, there were tensions among them (González Castro, et al 92). From the perspective of the Avanzada, for example, Richard was critical of the inconsistencies between CADA’s theoretical discourse and its actual practice: its “texts made avant-garde utopianism resonate with its foundational and messianic echoes, which projected a future redeemed through the abolition of all divisions”, yet on the other hand, its work “set forth a ‘situational and situated art’ that multiplied localized actions at different points of intersection in the socio-institutional plot” (2004: 31, emphases in original). Robert Neustadt (2001) expresses the differences between CADA and the Avanzada most succinctly:

CADA explored large scenes, working on what Richard calls the “Whole (the entire society as a macro-stage of the artistic revolution)” (2000: 45). “It’s not that we were against museums or galleries”, said [CADA member] Juan Castillo, “but rather that we just felt that Chile itself was a museum”. On the other hand, given that the political situation had made the country so closed, [the Avanzada] sought to explore expressions in private and/or marginal spaces. Despite differences among these strategic approaches, a reading of each one depends on its context (23).

Richard was critical of CADA, but she was also closely involved in writing about its work; although she was initially associated with a different current of the Avanzada—specifically the work of Leppe and Altamirano—she also refers to CADA as part of the Avanzada (1986: 17-21). She adds that CADA’s work consistently “maintained the same productive tension resulting from the combination of several registers: cultural (art, literature), social (the urban body as a zone of intervention in collective biography), and political (its link with forces of social change mobilized by the left)” (2004: 25).

Richard explicitly positions the work of CADA and the Avanzada as “unofficial” (1986: 17), since they worked outside of, and indeed against, the apolitical cultural agenda of the dictatorship, such as it was. However, one exception to the Avanzada’s exclusion from official art spheres was the solo work of Zurita, whose poetic text

Purgatorio [1979], and the works which follow, paradoxically retained their official acceptance at the same time as providing a key for both the Avanzada and various sectors of the opposition....because of the contradictions inherent in his work: on the one hand, his Catholic brand of humanism...was easily adapted to the idealism of [right-wing literary critic Ignacio] Valente, while on the other, the critical materialism assumed by his writings was in conflict with Valente’s position (Richard 1986: 26-7).

CADA’s legacy is thus complex. It provided a launching pad for the solo careers of its members later on, particularly the video art and performances of Rosenfeld, the novels of Eltit, and the poetry of Zurita; the latter two in particular have won multiple international awards and have lectured at universities in Europe and the United States. CADA’s legacy was also inspiring for later Chilean performance artists, such as Mario Soro (González Castro, et al 109-12) and Elías Adasme (González Castro, et al 95-7) in the early 1980s, and Las Yeguas del Apocalipsis in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This latter group, made up of the queer artists Pedro Lemebel and Francisco Casas, created several important performances right as Chile’s dictatorship ended, in which they used the body as a vehicle to denounce the homophobia and exclusions in the rhetoric of the country’s tradition to democracy (for more information, see “Las Yeguas del Apocalipsis”).

On the other hand, the coded nature of CADA’s performances left the group open to criticism from writers like Roberto Bolaño, who felt that CADA’s politics could have been more explicit; in Bolaño’s view, the recognition that Zurita received from official dictatorship artistic circles, for example, worked against CADA’s mission. Indeed, in his 1996 novel Estrella distante (Distant Star), Bolaño parodies one of Zurita’s performances—in which five airplanes wrote verses of his poem “La vida nueva” in the skies above Queens, New York on June 2, 1982 (Galaz and Ivelic 213-5)—portraying them as so politically inscrutable that they could be read as fascist; Gareth Williams (2009) offers an interesting discussion of this interpretative encounter. Unlike CADA members, however, Bolaño—another admirer of the avant-garde—worked in exile, and was therefore beyond the reach of punishment from the military regime. In this sense, it is worth asking whether it would have been possible for CADA’s work within Chile to be any more politically explicit without its members incurring the risk of grave danger, and whether Bolaño’s critique of their codedness would have been different if he himself had not left Chile.


Avant-Garde Strategies

CADA carried out eight “art actions” between 1979 and 1985, all of which will be discussed below: Para no morir de hambre en el arte (How Not to Starve to Death Making Art) and Inversión de escena (Scene Inversion/Investment) in 1979; ¡Ay Sudamérica! (Ay, South America!) and El fulgor de la huelga (The Splendor of the Strike) in 1981; A la hora señalada (High Noon) in 1982; Residuos Americanos (American Residues) and No + (No More) in 1983; and Viuda (Widow) in 1985. There is extensive documentation of all eight of the actions available on the website of New York University’s Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics.  

Para no morir de hambre en el arte and Inversión de escena were multidisciplinary, multiplatform companion pieces. In the former, CADA’s first action, members distributed one hundred 0.5-litre bags of milk to residents of La Granja, a low-income neighborhood on the outskirts of Santiago. The bags of milk were an immediate reminder of Allende’s policy of distributing 0.5 litres of milk per child per day during the Unidad Popular, evoking nostalgic longing for the democratic past (and hopeful desires for the future), as well as a critique of the dictatorship’s neoliberal market policies. From there, they recorded a text titled “No es una aldea” (“It’s not a village”) in the five official languages of the United Nations (Mandarin, Spanish, French, English, and Russian) and played it in front of the building of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), a UN-affiliated organization. The speech linked Chile’s state of hunger and deprivation to the poverty of nations around the world, in order to denounce “a global situation not explicitly limited to politics” (Neustadt 26). They also took out a one-page ad in the magazine Hoy, which was blank except for the following text: “Imagine this page completely blank/ Imagine this blank page as milk to be consumed every day/ Imagine every corner of Chile, deprived of its daily allowance of milk, as blank pages to be filled.” Then, throughout the month of October 1979, in the Centro Imagen Art Gallery in Santiago, they displayed bags of milk in a glass case, a tape of the “Village” speech, a copy of the Hoy ad, and videos of their interventions in La Granja. Cecilia Vicuña, in Bogotá, and Eugenio Téllez, in Toronto, carried out companion performances as well, emphasizing the international reach of the action.

On October 17 of that year, with the above-mentioned gallery show underway, CADA carried out Inversión de escena. They managed to get ten milk delivery trucks to park in front of Santiago’s Bellas Artes Museum, and hung a large white sheet on the museum’s front façade. Richard pointed out that the sheet performed a “double censorship”: by covering the museum, it erased the principal monument to institutional, dictatorship culture at the time, while also dismissing the building’s preservation of auratic art. Moreover, it pointed to the street as the “true museum”, allowing passersby to “invert their gaze to contemplate a new work of art” (Neustadt 31). The logos of the milk trucks, meanwhile, from the Soprole company, became a synecdoche for the overbearing visual discourse of capital that had flooded Santiago under neoliberalism. Thus the double meaning of the titular inversión: a denunciation of commercial investment, and a way of inverting the inward-lookingness of the museum outward.

In ¡Ay Sudamérica!, six airplanes in formation dropped 400,000 pamphlets over the city of Santiago on July 12, 1981. Evoking the traumatic events of the 1973 military coup, during which military planes bombed the presidential palace, the action connoted military repression. Intended as a poetic gesture—recalling verses written by the avant-garde Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro and prefiguring Zurita’s future skywriting poetry—the action functioned in tandem with nascent pro-democracy protests in the country. Still, for critics like Hernán Vidal, its evocation of military repression was too similar for comfort to actual repression; moreover, CADA had to obtain permission (under false pretenses) to carry out the action from the very military regime it was critiquing (Neustadt 33-4). The pamphlets they dropped contained an avant-garde manifesto, with phrases like “We are artists, but everyone who works for the expansion of the spaces—even mental spaces—of their lives is an artist” (Neustadt 33). ¡Ay Sudamérica! was meant to make the sky above Chile an artistic canvas, further broadening CADA’s field of action; it critiqued the fact that the entire Chilean landscape had become a carceral space.

El fulgor de la huelga was a hunger strike, carried out in 1981 in a metalworking factory that had gone bankrupt amidst a deep economic crisis that affected Chile that year. In it, CADA members lay under blankets carrying the CADA name, to perform weakness and death. The action was “meant to denounce the growing unemployment among the working classes and to highlight the importance of hunger strikes as political tools and ways of resisting the economic policy” of the dictatorship (“CADA”). Moreover, its title was a gesture to the tradition of workers’ movements in Chile: Pablo Neruda’s Fulgor y muerte de Joaquín Murieta (The Splendor and Death of Joaquín Murieta) was a 1967 cantata about mining banditry and workers’ exploitation, and José Emilio Recabarren’s labor organizing and journalism in the northern Chilean city of Iquique frequently advocated strikes. Eltit’s 2002 novel Mano de obra (roughly translated as Labor) also powerfully evokes Recabarren’s legacy.

A la hora señalada is the Spanish-language title of the 1952 Gary Cooper film High Noon, and was the title of a CADA action held in April 1982. In it, Castillo and Zurita performed a remake of the film’s iconic duel. A denunciation of violence under dictatorship and a call to “utilize mourning as a productive force in the struggle for civil rights”, the artists “the artists extended between them a neon strip illuminating the scene—a duel of light, without weapons” (“CADA”).

Residuos Americanos was presented (without the participation of Balcells and Castillo) in Washington, DC from March 18 to April 23, 1983, as part of the exhibit “In/Out: Four Projects by Chilean Artists”, curated by Alfredo Jaar. To provide a bit of context: in Chile, cast-off clothing exported from American thrift shops is readily available for sale and known as ropa americana (“American clothing”). In Residuos Americanos, then, a pile of ropa americana was put on display to denounce what Richard calls “the situation of disequilibrium that obliges the third world to live with the consumerist excess/cast-offs [sobras] from the first world” (1998: 119, my translation). A recorded voice accompanied the work, making associative references like “Clothing and misery/Mind and merchandise” (Neustadt 35). Another “inversion” of institutional norms that returned the ropa americana back to its origin, the action denounced the exceptionalist idea of Chile as a “model” of economic prosperity by pointing out its attempts to copy American fashion and parodying the “relationship of hierarchy and subordination between original and copy” (Richard 1998: 119).

NO+, meanwhile, is quite possibly CADA’s most important, enduring action, and also its simplest. In late 1983 and early 1984, CADA members once again intervened in Santiago’s streetscapes, drawing the symbol “NO+” (“No More”), allowing anyone to participate by completing the sentences. Over time, anonymous passersby did just that, adding words like “dictatorship”, “weapons”, “torture”, and “death” (Neustadt 36). It was also presented later, around the world, from Washington, DC to Amsterdam. It gained further power during the late 1980s, during the period of the plebiscite to decide whether to give Pinochet eight more years in power: the ballot consisted of a simple SÍ— and NO—, and voters who did not want Pinochet to continue had only to draw one more line and turn the horizontal line after the NO into a cross (+). The action became a powerful gesture toward democratization, and the “NO+” symbol continues to appear in Chile as a protest slogan.

Finally, Viuda consisted of an ad taken out in several of Santiago’s independent magazines in September 1985, consisting of a photo of an unnamed woman whose husband had been killed in a protest against the dictatorship. Part of the caption below it interpellated the viewer: “Look at her extreme, popular gesture. Pay attention to her widowhood and her survival. Understand a pueblo”. As Eltit has stated, this action was also related to “inversion”: “We wanted to invert funeral protocol by using the face of a living woman” rather than the faces of people who were executed or disappeared, “to cite death, but to do so through life” (Neustadt 38).

CADA conceptualized “art as the integral fusion between aesthetic performance and everyday gestures” (Neustadt 172), in order to question the boundaries among artistic disciplines. They viewed painting—often tied to old-guard artistic practices in Chile that were sanctioned by official museums—as one major target. Indeed, they stated that “painting (and traditional art)...[was] a symbolic enemy that implied authoritarian Order”. Richard describes CADA’s agenda as a “desire to eradicate the boundaries—or as Eltit says, to ‘commit incest’—between the genres of a whole range of displacements” (1986: 75, emphasis in original). In doing so, CADA sought not only to question existing artistic and museum-based traditions, but also to practice a sort of Deleuzian nomadism designed to evade the surveilling gaze of any particular artistic discipline, which they saw as analogous to the surveillance that Chilean citizens experienced under the dictatorship. Richard explicitly tied this utopian disobedience of genre limitations to the disobedience of the dictatorial order: “The sense of freedom that arises when the artist crosses over the boundaries which restrict his creativity ultimately symbolises his desire to expand the horizons of his own existence under the extreme maintenance of order” (1986: 75). To this end, CADA worked in a variety of different media and genres, from performance, to sculpture, to found materials, to graffiti.

Literature was a cornerstone of the work of CADA and the Avanzada. First of all, poetry was a launching pad of sorts for its work, given that Lihn and Parra—themselves freethinking artists whose poetry can certainly be classified as avant-garde—trained Eltit and Zurita at the Department of Estudios Humanísticos. Moreover, as Richard has pointed out, literature and literary theory share a common idiom with art criticism; echoes of much of the critical work Richard did on CADA’s work can be observed in her later criticism of literature. Most importantly, the “rhetoric of the body”—to use Richard’s phrase—is a key element not only of the literature later published by Eltit and Zurita, who have focused on the relationship between physical bodies and what might be called the “body politic”, but also of other Chilean writers such as Lemebel and Casas.



CADA’s main concerns surrounded the ways in which the dictatorship imposed a singular, authoritarian mode of living upon Chilean citizens. This authoritarianism had a number of effects: the meanings of words and other signs were fixed to particular referents controlled by the regime; the circulation of bodies around the city (and throughout the country) was circumscribed in particular ways; institutions (artistic and otherwise) became closed off and opaque to most Chilean citizens; and deprivation of all kinds was omnipresent. Physical hunger was common, for example, due to the neoliberal “shock doctrine” (to use Naomi Klein’s term, employed a propos of Chile in her eponymous book (2007: 92-104)) imposed by the dictatorship, but intellectual and creative outlets for Chileans were also stunted.

In response, CADA proposed a radical, avant-garde artistic agenda that transgressed the limits placed on the signification of discourse, on institutions, on bodies, and on creativity. They sought to question the ways in which institutions—not only Chile’s museums, first established in the 19th century, but also the entire dictatorial government administering public life—gave (or removed) value to particular artistic works. This meant breaking down the boundaries between art and life at its most basic level:

For CADA, bringing the revolution to the meaning and the function of art meant problematizing the conventionality of the limit between art and non-art, exploding this normative division, transgressing its marks, to disseminate the energy flowing from creative acts along the multifaceted surface of the social body (Neustadt 172, emphasis in original). 

This transgression was physical—CADA reached beyond, or simply covered up, museum walls—but it was also metaphorical. CADA sought to “annul all traces of exceptionalism that ‘distinguish’ the exclusive and selective meaning of art at the level of individual production and reception”, by focusing on social praxis (Neustadt 172).

Richard refers to this praxis as “social exteriority”, which she considers central to CADA’s methodology: CADA worked to undo the tyranny of the marco, which has both literal and figurative meanings in Spanish (the auratic picture frame and the artistic/theoretical framework, respectively). By creating works of art outside of the confines of museums and state institutions, CADA was nodding to previous avant-garde movements in Chile, while also collectivizing individualistic ideas about artistic authorship. For example, its interventions in the streets during the art actions were an echo of the Ramona Parra Brigade, known by its Spanish-language acronym BRP (Richard 1986: 53): groups tied to the Communist Youth, active in the Allende years, who painted political slogans on the walls in plain sight of passersby. In this sense, as Camilo Trumper (2016) writes in his discussion of the BRP, CADA worked to restore the idea of “public art [as] both a vehicle of and a metaphor for the fluid, relentless political exchanges that characterized the three years of Allende’s presidency” (94). These exchanges had of course been systematically undermined by dictatorial censorship. Meanwhile, CADA’s own work in Santiago’s streetscapes like NO+, unsigned by any particular artist, was inspired by the work of German artist Wolf Vostell, whose work was exhibited in Santiago in the 1980s. Following Vostell, CADA members professed the idea of the artist as someone who “simply ‘works with experience’ and is denied any individual gain, while his work ‘reforms life’ by aesthetically transforming and socialising everyday experience” (Richard 1986: 78). By breaking down the boundaries of any particular frame(work), CADA questioned individual authorship, and its implications of personal gain.

The fixity that CADA critiqued was as much discursive as it was spatial. As Mary Louise Pratt (1996) puts in in her discussion of Eltit’s 1989 avant-garde novel El padre mío (My Father), the ideas underpinning CADA’s work parodied “many dimensions of the reality common to all Chileans: paranoia, uncertainty, a crisis of language in which words seemed unattached to referents” (154). Its discourse repeatedly played with semantic slippages, such as the similarities (in Para no morir..., for example) between the Spanish words for deprivation, denial, and privatization, in order to destabilize the significations that the dictatorship sought to impose: “[t]he authority of the authorities, then, include[d] command over interpretation as well” (Pratt 152). By responding to the dictatorship’s seemingly neutral, unambiguous discourse with highly coded, complex significations, CADA worked to undo the bonds between signifiers and signifieds under dictatorship, in order to create a free play of interpretation.

CADA’s focus on the transgression of artistic genres was also a transgression of gender; they played with the fact that the Spanish word género means both genre and gender. The body, according to Richard,

is at the boundary between biology and society, between drives and discourse, between the sexual and its categorisation in terms of power, biography and history[;] it is the site par excellence for transgressing the constraints of meaning or what social discursivity prescribes as normality (1986: 65, emphasis in original).

CADA used the body as a surface onto which they were able to create their artistic works. They made use of the body’s unpredictable “rhetoric” to resist dictatorial control through an invocation of difference and alterity. Moreover, their work sought to create exterior space for bodies to move more freely through a city otherwise under total siege. In his description of the work of the BRP, Trumper describes how the artist’s “body...enters into a corporeal relationship with different urban walls, each with its own architecture and its own place in the city” (103); CADA worked to restore a Chilean avant-garde tradition, lost following 1973 the military coup, of an “embodied practice of political citizenship through aesthetic production” (Trumper 103).

The legacy of CADA’s contestatory gestures lives on in Chile, and the memory of CADA remains important in Chilean and Latin American activist and academic circles. The urgency of CADA’s performances (and those of the entire Avanzada) are key signposts in the increasingly-consolidating discipline of memory studies, which, as Michael Lazzara (2018) discusses, has become a

productive inter- or transdisciplinary space from which to think about the dynamics of individual, social, and cultural “memory acts” and their potential for strengthening democracies and consolidating cultures of human rights in the aftermath of dictatorships, wars, and other kinds of violent conflicts (14).

Invoking the terminology of “memory acts” coined by Diana Taylor, whose work on Latin American performance studies (2003) has been key to understanding the link between performance and memory, Lazzara shows how CADA’s work can be understood today as a pedagogical tool for resisting future forms of political oppression. Moreover, it can be said that CADA’s interdisciplinary approach laid fundamental groundwork for the interdisciplinarity of memory studies as a whole. In a discussion of Chilean artist Janet Toro, whose political performances in the 1990s aimed to expose the fact that the “dictatorship of the past is not so much in the past”, Neustadt discusses how CADA’s work was an important precursor for artists who “today work in the streets and alternative circuits, to insert their work in public spaces” (19-20). The forward-lookingness inherent to the avant-garde impulse is not diluted by the retrospective eye of memory studies; indeed, memory studies has allowed for a further understanding of the historical basis of CADA’s own performances, which in turn have ensured CADA’s continued relevance today.


Further reading

  • Brito, Eugenia. Campos minados: Literatura post-golpe en Chile. Santiago de Chile: Editorial Cuarto Propio, 1990.  
  • Bürger, Peter. Theory of the Avant-Garde. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.
  • “CADA”. Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. Website.
  • Galaz, Gaspar, and Milan Ivelic. Chile, arte actual. Valparaíso: Ediciones Universitarias de Valparaíso, 1988.
  • González Castro, Francisco, Leonora López, and Brian Smith. Performance art en Chile. Santiago de Chile: Editorial Metales Pesados, 2016.
  • Klein, Naomi. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York: Picador, 2007.
  • Lagos Olivero, Claudio. Cine chileno en el Santiago del apagón cultural (1980-1989). Santiago de Chile: Ediciones Universidad Finis Terrae, 2019.
  • “Las Yeguas del Apocalipsis”. Website.
  • Lazzara, Michael. “The Memory Turn”. In New Approaches to Latin American Studies: Culture and Power. Ed. Juan Poblete. New York: Routledge, 2018.
  • Neustadt, Robert. CADA Día: La creación de un arte social. Santiago de Chile: Editorial Cuarto Propio, 2001.
  • Pratt, Mary Louise. “Overwriting Pinochet: Undoing the Culture of Fear in Chile.” MLQ 57:2 (June 1996): 151-163.
  • Richard, Nelly. Margins and Institutions: Art in Chile Since 1973. Melbourne: Art & Text, 1986.
  • ---. Residuos y metáforas: ensayos de crítica cultural sobre el Chile de la transición. Santiago de Chile: Editorial Cuarto Propio, 1998.
  • ---. The Insubordination of Signs: Political Change, Cultural Transformation, and Poetics of the Crisis. Tr. Alice A. Nelson and Silvia R. Tandeciarz. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2004.
  • Taylor, Diana. The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003.
  • Trumper, Camilo. Ephemeral Histories: Public Art, Politics, and the Struggle for the Streets in Chile. Oakland: University of California Press, 2016.
  • Williams, Gareth. “Sovereignty and Melancholic Paralysis in Roberto Bolaño”. Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies 18.2-3 (December 2009): 125-140.