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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Folklore as the Avant-Garde? Experimental Images of “the popular” in mid-century Chile

  • Author(s): Montero, Gonzalo
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

In this article, I analyze the work of two mid-century Chilean artists–the documentarian Sergio Bravo (1927-), and the photographer Antonio Quintana (1904-1972)–, and the form by which they use different technological media in order to capture and construct popular subjectivities. Instead of conceiving “the popular” as an archaic and traditionalistic label, both artists open new possibilities to incorporate popular subjectivities into discourses of political and artistic modernization using formal experimentation and radical aesthetics. The works of Bravo and Quintana are not only capturing a form of popular practice (they are not restricted to be ethnographic documentations), but also creating or imagining a notion of a popular subjectivity defined by hard work, effort, creativity, and eventually, the capacity to carry out a radical transformation of society. This process of “imagining” popular subjectivity coincides with the political project of claiming the worth and complexity of popular classes, which historically had been neglected by dominant discourses of Chilean culture.

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