Clay Waters UntamedFriday, January 7, 2022
This text is part of Alternative Routes, a project that foregrounds the work of eight young Afro-Latin American and Indigenous artists and highlights the historicity of racial and ethnic relations within Latin America’s art worlds. This project was organized and edited by Bruno Pinheiro, Ph.D. candidate in History at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), and Horacio Ramos, Ph.D. candidate in Art History at The Graduate Center, City University of New York.
Este texto está disponível em português.
Chile was founded as a single nation, in denial of the existence of the Mapuche people and other peoples who inhabit this land, putting Indigenous rights in danger and laying out a default manner for performing Chilean identity. Beginning in the mid-19th century, the governments of Chile and Argentina began their expansion into the Mapuche territory historically known as Wallmapu.  This process of colonization brought destruction and displacement to this territory, separating the Puelmapu (Land of the East) from the Ngulumapu (Land of the West) in what we know today as Argentina and Chile. The Chilean state pressed forward with its so-called process of “pacification of Araucanía” into the Ngulumapu, throwing relationships among the Mapuche into disarray and shattering their territorial autonomy. Beginning in 1861, this process led to the impoverishment of the people, creating a great wave of migration from Mapuche communities to the urban centers, especially the city of Santiago.
The primary education I received from the Chilean government taught me that my people were solely a part of the past, without agency in the present, without a voice for the future. The vanquished territories were handed over to migrants known to history as “colonists,” and later to the neo-colonial corporations that are destroying all of the diversity of life that exists in the forests, rivers, and seas running along the lengthy strip that is Chile.  Our families experienced racism, denial of their identities, prohibitions against speaking their own language, against living their own worldview in the way they would have liked, all of which is the product of the impact generated by colonialism in Chilean society itself. For many years, we experienced that constant denial of the state, which also permeated the culture of the Chilean people, who historically have considered us inferior, along with all the other stereotypes inherited from the tradition of racism.
Today, many Mapuche people are preserving our ancestral ways, revitalizing our language and occupying the spaces that were always denied to us. We represent the present, we represent agency and we represent a voice for conceiving the future. Still, many generations that came before us suffered as a result of the structural racism that has impacted and continues to impact the Mapuche people. Art history itself is evidence of that colonial violence, which excludes us from accounts of the arts, relegating us to the discourse of multiculturalism, where we are fetichized, depoliticized and annihilated.
Santos Chávez Alister Carinao (February 7, 1934—January 2, 2001), a Mapuche artist born in Canihual, Arauco province, is a clear example of the erasure of Mapuche identity from the history of art in Chile (fig. 1). He was raised in the countryside, caring for sheep, looking after fields and cultivating the land.  He was orphaned at an early age, meaning he had to work in solitude and sustain himself from a very young age. He enrolled in the Sociedad de Bellas Artes de la ciudad de Concepción in 1958, where he attended only during the evening hours, since he spent the mornings working as part of the cleaning crew at the same institution. In an article published in August of 1966, Santos confessed frankly, “They kicked me out twice. They said it wasn’t for me. That I should do something else. But I went back again and again. They had no choice but to let me in. The people that had studied in Paris or London could not accept the idea that a man with an indio [Indigenous] face like mine could draw, print and paint.”  Asked in the same interview about the message in his drawings and prints, Santos replied, “I try to express my race, what little there is left of America. I am an Araucano trying to make common people’s feelings into something universal. That’s why I chose to work with wood. Noble wood to express myself. The wood and the human make up a single entity.” 
Santos Chávez Alister Carinao was also engaged with the socialist government of Salvador Allende, supporting his candidacy through his election to the presidency.  His political commitments did not produce any alteration to the content of his works, which very clearly maintained his personal aesthetic imprint. During this time, printmaking had a prominent role among the visual arts, giving Santos’ work national and international visibility. After the military coup d’etat led by Augusto Pinochet, Santos Chávez decided to go into exile.  He traveled through Europe for four years until finally setting in East Germany, where he was made part of the National Association of Artists. During that time he also met Eva Chávez, his wife, who would accompany him for the rest of his life. At that time, Santos began to receive attention from art collections on a global scale. In spite of his distance from his homeland, Santos maintained a permanent interest in his memories of the Mapuche people.  His production was not altered by his context. In fact, his separation from Chile, in the midst of the Military Dictatorship, allowed him to create some of his most compelling works.
The work Arauco no domado [Arauco Untamed] (1978) presents us with two Mapuche bodies riding horses, as they gallop over an Andean terrain of plants and flowers. In this print, we can see that the flowers in the arrangement belong to the cinnamon tree, a sacred plant with great curative and spiritual powers for the Mapuche people. The figure of the horse, the symbol par excellence of colonial intervention into Abya Yala, represents the taming of the territory by the imposition of colonial power. The Mapuche people have passed on various accounts of the period of the Spanish invasion of these lands, in which horses were domesticated for use against the territory.
Arauco no domado is an interpellation of the epic colonial poem Arauco domado [Arauco Tamed], first published in Lima in 1569 by Pedro de Oña.  Santos utilized the title of this publication, adding the prefix “un-,” and thus alluding to an untold story of political resistance against colonialism. The title stands in opposition to a fictitious official version of history, which fails to account for real-life events related to the political and territorial autonomy that the Mapuche people enjoyed prior to the intervention of the Chilean state.
In 1994, Santos returned to Chile. Upon returning, he began teaching printmaking courses at the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende. He was then named an “illustrious son of Tirúa,” his historical territory in Wallmapu. In 1999, his work Arauco Untamed was featured on the cover of one of the most prominent books of Mapuche poetry, Recado confidencial a los chilenos [Message to Chileans] by Elicura Chihuailaf.  In 2000, Santos received the Altazor prize, becoming one of the few printmakers to receive an award of this magnitude in the Chilean national context. He passed away a year later, and his wife Eva Chávez took charge of publicizing his work, creating the Santos Chávez foundation.  His work was honored in Chile’s First Bienal de Arte indígena, as a gesture recognizing his Mapuche identity.
The documentary Ahora te vamos a llamar hermano [Now We’re Going to Call You Brother] by Raúl Ruiz, filmed in March of 1971 during the socialist administration of Salvador Allende, is one of the most important documents that I have ever encountered as an artist. This 13-minute audiovisual work offers us a visual and auditory archive in which we hear Mapudungun speakers from nearly 50 years ago. The film was produced during Chile’s Agrarian Reform, a process that allowed for the destabilization of the control and tenancy of haciendas rooted in this earlier period. The fervent activism undertaken by Mapuche communities in the face of Allende’s rise to power helped accelerate reforms thanks to the large number of territorial takeovers starting in December of 1970.  This entire process was documented on the day of the inauguration of the Instituto de Capacitación Mapuche [Institute for Mapuche Education]. A year later in 1972, Allende signed Law 17.729, also known as the “indigenous law.” 
Ahora te vamos a llamar hermano allows us to see the destruction to the land that has occurred in recent history. Its characters are the embodied voice of that experiential register that, through denouncement, demonstrates an urge to raise questions for the state and for the people of Chile. This is one of the most important historical archives in terms of restitution. Its viewers, of various age ranges, may have even witnessed the process of military occupation in Mapuche territory or may have been victims of state violence in Chile themselves. The film was discovered in 2012 by Chilean anthropologist María Paz Peirano 40 years after it was filmed. It had been lost, and was discovered in the Venice Biennial’s Historical Archives of Contemporary Film (ASAC) and restored at Laboratorio L’Immagine Cinema Ritrovata.
This documentary is the focal point and the point of departure for my work Welu kumplipe (2018)  (fig. 3). In the documentary, the dialogue of the youngest speaker, an anonymous individual wearing a red vest and a hat, offers us a call for empowerment:
weñeymün mapu, weñeymün kom fillem…
Kuyfi may they have been exploiting us,
feymew tüfa wüla, […] no!”
You stole the lands, you stole
everything… animals […]
For a very long time they have exploited us
But now, […] no!” 
The visuality at play in this scene is also present in the work Welu kumplipe. Using clothing and related accessories, I place my body before the camera, staring with a fixed gaze. My look is an interpellation: I do not move, just slowly observe the viewer, who we assume is looking. I do not replicate the body language of the lamngen [brother] with the red vest. We now hear that speech in my own voice, imitating that fully embodied speech that is the product of the seventies, but which remains so contemporary, so current. The video is accompanied by the phrase “Welu kumplipe,” rendered in laser-cut acrylic and covered in soil and resin. The soil used is from the Araucanía region. This phrase is also the title of the work, which is the debt of the Chilean state to the Mapuche people. These words translate to “But he must fulfill,” and they were recovered from one of the untranslated voices in the documentary by Raúl Ruiz, belonging to a Mapuche woman, who asserts her support for Allende, so long he can “fulfill” that historical promise that was destroyed by the dictatorship.
That promise was not fulfilled. The Pinochet coup did away with all the recovery projects that had taken place. A new process called the “counter-reform” was then initiated, in which certain Chileans and so-called “colonists” were charged with once again dispossessing the lands that had been returned. Finally, these lands were turned over to foresters who invaded Wallmapu with wood monocultures of pine and eucalyptus. Despite the significance of this documentary, none of the Mapuche people who speak are named, many of them are incorrectly translated and others are simply left untranslated. As a historical document, this video is of the utmost importance, because it dismantles the temporalities surrounding Mapuche territorial recognition, which generally focus on the political movement that took place in the 1990s, much later than this archival work by Ruiz, made in 1971. 
Within the framework of permanent colonial violence, Arauco Untamed offers a political way of conceiving of a free Wallmapu. That is, a way of conceiving of the territory without the militarization of the Chilean state’s occupation, which abuses thousands of people under a system that extracts to the point of total destruction. To date, since the “return to democracy,” seventeen Mapuche people have been killed by police officers, victims of the repression and militarization of the region. Today, in the face of a process to amend the constitution led by Mapuche woman Elisa Loncon, we believe it is urgent to change and to recognize the historical mistakes made against the Mapuche people.  For this, it is necessary to start with a recognition of the politics of genocide that have been used against Indigenous people. This would be with the aim of achieving a historical restitution returning Wallmapu to the people, rather than the private industries that continue to lay waste to everything, destroying the present and standing in the way of the future.
Both in the work of Santos Chávez and my own, I see historical references to that denouncement and to the commitment to territorial restitution, in service to the struggle for historical restitution for the violence that has been perpetuated. Today, I connect that history constructed from the matrix of Santos’ prints with the whole social and political movement that has historically been made invisible. In one of his final interviews, Santos Chávez tells us:
I love working to support this movement of the Mapuche, they have a legitimate right to recover their lands, which were taken from them […] I am convinced that they will make progress. There is greater cultural movement now, they are studying their language and respecting their culture. Chileans are as well, because almost all of them have Mapuche blood. 
Santos Segundo Chávez Alíster (Canihual, Arauco, 1934 - Viña del Mar, 2001). Orphaned at an early age, from childhood he had to take on farm work, shepherding animals and working the land, in order to support his family of seven siblings. His commitment to art began in the city of Concepción in 1958, where he attended evening courses in painting at the Society of Fine Arts. In 1961, he continued his studies in Santiago at Taller 99 de Grabado [Print Studio 99] at the invitation of Nemesio Antúnez, who had discovered his natural artistic talent. Having received the Andrés Bello award from the Salón Oficial in 1966, he was able to travel abroad to take on art studies in various locales. He traveled to the United States, where he took on studies at the Pratt Graphic Center in New York as well as the Art Institute of Chicago. Later, he continued to work in the School of Applied Arts at the Universidad de Chile. He voluntarily self-exiled in 1977 and traveled throughout Europe for four years, during which time his work at the Graphic Workshop in Stockholm, Sweden is of note. Finally, he settled in East Germany, where he worked at a private studio and was named a member of the National Association of Artists. He returned to Chile in 1994.
 The Mapuche territory, spanning from the coastline of the Pacific all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
 Racism operates so powerfully that only some particular migrants are referred to as “colonists,” while others are constantly under attack.
 Interview for Cable United Press International, New York, August 20, 1966. Cited in Carola Laura Arriagada Araya, “Symbolic Expression in the Prints of Santos Chávez”, Master’s Thesis (Universidad de Chile, Faculty of Arts, 2015): 29.
 The term “Araucano” was put forward by the Spanish-speaking world to refer to the Mapuche people, who inhabited the Arauco region, and this term was also a way of nullifying Mapuche identity for a very long time.
 In the early 1960s, Santos moved to the capital of Santiago in order to focus on his artistic endeavors. He was invited by artist Nemesio Antúnez and joined Taller 99 de Grabado [Print Studio 99], training in the trade of printmaking, utilizing the medium as a space for communication and creation. His work was characterized by the use of images from his childhood memories, his ties to the Mapuche and his longing to return. In spite of not belonging to the well-to-do class that would have assured his entry into local art circuits, his works were widely circulated abroad, in Germany, Mexico, the United States and Switzerland, among others.
 In 1977 Santos was invited by the Pinochet Dictatorship to present his work at the “Patriótica [Patriotic]" exhibition in Argentina. He decided not to accept, and went into exile.
 “It’s just what naturally comes out of me, when I went abroad I had already formed the world I wanted to represent.” Cited in National Museum of Fine Arts, “Chilean Visual Artists: Santos Chávez,” https://www.artistasvisualeschilenos.cl/658/w3-printer-40324.html
 Commissioned by García Hurtado de Mendoza, Governor of Chile from 1557 to 1561. For a critical study of this text, see Andrea Lorena Fernández, “Epico-Creole Anxieties and the Patronage of Indian Women in Arauco Tamed by Pedro de Oña,” doctoral thesis (New York: City University of New York, 2018) [Editor’s note].
 Here, the poet cites the words of Santos Chávez: “From that world, I learned that one doesn’t have to be pretentious with one’s work. That’s something that is known to anyone who works the land and appreciates and experiences its brownness, exposing us to its, to our, brownness. So everyone goes about formulating their own concept of what they have experienced (or what little they have experienced), because people never cease to exist, and nobody would ever say, ‘I know it all’ You go about learning through living. When I was a child, I had an open universe, full of stars, trees, little birds, goats and the sun.” Cited in Chihuailaf Nahuelpán, Message to Chileans (Santiago: LOM Ediciones, 1999): 60.
 I am deeply grateful for the support provided by the Santos Chávez Foundation, particularly its director, Juan Pablo Scarella. I also wish to recognize Gloria Cortés, curator of the Museum of Fine Arts in Santiago, as well as the support of Mapuche artists in this process: Eduardo Rapiman and Francisco Huichaqueo, who have collaborated in disseminating the work of Santos Chávez.
 For more on the archives of Raúl Ruiz and Valeria Sarmiento, see http://www.arte.ucv.cl/index.php/archivo-ruiz-sarmiento/. This documentary has been analyzed by Andrea Salazar and Cristián Vargas Paillahueque, who note: “It was produced during the administration of Salvador Allende on his tour of Wallmapu in March of 1971, by the then-young director Raúl Ruiz, in his capacity as a member of Unidad Popular, and his crew, which consisted of José de la Vega on sound and Uruguayan Mario Handler on the camera. The filming lasted just one day: March 28, 1971, the day Allende inaugurated the Institute for Mapuche Education in Temuco and enacted Law number 14.511, all of which was part of the pivotal process of Agrarian Reform taking place in Chile.” See Andrea Salazar Vega and Cristián Vargas Paillahueque, “The Resonance of Indigenous Voices in Chilean Film: Now We’re Going to Call You Brother (1971) by Raúl Ruiz,” in Eduardo Fonseca and Fabio Mendes (eds.), Trânsitos e subjetividades latino-americanas no cinema (Paraná: EDUNILA – Editora Universitária, 2019): 151-157.
 The Peasant Revolutionary Movement (MCR) and the Netuain Mapu organization were major forces in leadership at the time, contributing to this process.
 In his speech, the president states, “I want to resume the work that the Government has done, which seems to me to be productive. Recovery of lands; between January ’71 and January ’72, the Mapuches have recovered 72,000 hectares of land. By comparison, from January ’61 to January ’71, in ten years, the Indian Tribunals returned just 1,432 hectares.” See Salvador Allende, “Words from the Signing of the Enactment of the Indigenous Law,” speech delivered September 15, 1972, available at https://www.marxists.org/espanol/allende/1972/septiembre15bis.htm
 This work was produced in 2018, supported by the work of curator and theorist Cristián Vargas Paillahueque.
 This excerpt was re-translated in the work of Andrea Salazar and Cristián Vargas Paillahueque.
 With regard to the movie, Ruiz states, “It is a very raw film, made with the utmost honesty […] everything has a spontaneity that I consider important […]. The film is completely spoken in Mapuche and subtitled in Spanish, it’s made for them.” B. Cuneo (ed.), Ruiz: Selected Interviews – Edited Filmography (Santiago: Ediciones UDP, 2013): 300-301
 Elisa Loncón Antileo, president of the Constitutional Convention charged with creating a new constitution for Chile to replace the one created during the Pinochet Dictatorship (1980), was elected by popular vote by the Mapuche people through the reserved-seat system. She is also a prominent academic, linguist and Mapuche activist.
 Interview with Santos Chávez by María Antonia Carrasco, printed in Santos Chávez: Screen and Lino Prints. A Retrospective Exhibition (Santiago: Chilean Museum of Pre-Colombian Art, 2004).