For 9/11/13: 'No Formal Space for Intimacy'
By Frank Sherlock & Carlos Soto-Roman
LISTEN HERE [audio arrangement by Kinan Abou-afach]
Forty years ago today, a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet waged war on the democratically elected government of Chile. It was the South American September 11th. That day began a period of cruel repression, characterized by extreme violence and human rights abuses. Thousands of people were tortured, murdered and disappeared. The Chilean people commemorate this day with remembrance, mourning and renewed commitment. We observe this date in solidarity from within the borders of the Empire where the coup began. Our collaborative composition examines the damage beyond the event itself, crossing continents and spanning years. You may hear resonances of folk singer Victor Jara, fundraiser/activist Ronni Moffitt, poet Pablo Neruda and CIA agent Michael Townley. Of course, there are also the voices inside the house.
The house is the site of an artist salon hosted by novelist Mariana Callejas, as recounted in Roberto Bolano's novel By Night in Chile. One of the few gathering places for artists after the coup, many artists attended — though almost no one would admit that they were there. Callejas was a gracious and lavish host, providing food and fine wine while her CIA husband tortured dissidents in the basement. We were drawn to the true and fictionalized accounts of the house because, as artists creating in the United States- we are in the house. Beyond historical commemoration, we needed to interrogate what it means to share our poems in the American salon while electrodes are attached to the genitals of our colleagues & comrades in basements around the world. We eat and drink the wine of our hosts. What is our level of complicity? Will we admit we were here? Will we have an explanation? What will our qualifications be?