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Gac-Artigas Foundation

Art Without Borders


Geography of a Decade

Chile 1973 - 1983

Collection Gustavo and Priscilla Gac-Artigas

The starting point of Memorias: Geography of a Decade, is the personal collection of Gustavo and Priscilla Gac-Artigas including original signed prints (24 of them numbered in short runs of 30, 60 or 100 copies) by painters such as Chileans José Balmes, Guillermo Núñez, Gracia Barrios (three Chilean National Art Awards - 1999, 2007 and 2011 respectively), Alejandro Marcos, and Eduardo Berroeta; original posters by Joan Miró, Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Balmes, Brigada Luis Corvalán, Gracia Barrios and Jack Ottaviano, among others; plus photos of the September 1973 military coup by Gamma agency photojournalists, one of the most renowned press agencies in the world at the time, and photos of theatrical performances by the Théâtre de la Résistance-Chili, later on, Nuevo Teatro Los Comediantes, a Latin-American group, during its exile in France.


None of the images on this website can be reproduced without written authorization of the  Gac-Artigas Foundation  

© 2016 AWB

What is Memorias all about?


Geography of a Decade

Chile 1973 - 1983

The exhibition retraces a pivotal moment in the history of Chile as well as a personal trajectory, the story of Chilean writer and playwright Gustavo Gac-Artigas, theater director of the Teatro Experimental del Cobre at the cultural center of El Teniente’s mine in Chile during the government of Salvador Allende. After the military coup of 1973, he was arrested and sent into exile to Paris, where he recreated his theater group and named it Théâtre de la Résistance-Chili, later on, Nuevo Teatro Los Comediantes.

During his exile he was a member of the Cultural Commission  in Paris along with Sergio Ortega (musician, composer, author of "El pueblo unido"), José Balmes (painter), Lucho Bocaz (literary critic), Carlos Orellana (editor revista Araucaria), and Carlos Martinez (former president  of a university in Valparaiso Chile).

In Paris he met Priscilla, a PhD student at the Sorbonne, who eventually joined the group. These works of art accompanied the group on all their tours throughout France, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Tunisia, and in all the 18 international theater festivals they participated. 

The other 9/11 at UPenn - Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts - September 2018


These artifacts were  last displayed at the international theater festival of Hammamet, Tunisia in 1982. After Gustavo´s failed attempt to return to Chile in 1984 (he was included on a list of 5,000 people who, according to Pinochet’s government, could never re-enter the country) they remained in boxes for 34 years in Priscilla´s hometown in Puerto Rico. In March 2016, during our participation in the International Conference of the Academies of Spanish Language, of which we are members, we opened the boxes thinking we would find just dust,  and there they were, all the prints and posters intact as if time had been paused. We spent six months reframing every piece and putting the  exhibition  back on its feet. It saw light for the first time in the US at Monmouth University, NJ, in September 2016.

The Time Machine

A 43-year-old photo-reportage gives us the opportunity to go back in time and witness a historic moment that still questions us.

Reporters of the former Gamma photo agency, at the time one of the most renown in the world, were not looking for photographic excellence, they were not aiming for a beautiful portrait, nor to capture the wonderful landscapes of Chile. They were seeking to portray with urgency, sometimes at the risk of their own lives, the reality that we were living in Chile in September 1973.

Reproduction of 50 black and white and color slides of the military coup taken by reporters of the Gamma press agency on September 11, 1973.

Of how a second becomes an eternity

In a second

no time to focus,

no second chance for the photo

or for the human being portrayed,

In a second, before the soldier realized that he was being portrayed,

In a second, before the tears rolled down the face and evaporated

In a second the photo-reporter saw, felt and squeezed the shutter so that second could return to life, at least for a second, in you.

The time for you to close your eyes and imagine that it is you who are living that second.

A face out of focus. Windfall? Mistake?


Geography of a Decade

The exhibition is accompanied by a lecture by Gustavo, Chilean writer and theater director, Correspondent Member of the Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española (ANLE) and Dr. Priscilla Gac-Artigas, Professor of Latin American Studies, Fulbright Scholar, Correspondent Member of the ANLE

The personal journey behind MEMORIAS is the backbone of Gustavo's latest novel, Y todos éramos actores, un siglo de luz y sombra, (SPA) And All of Us Were Actors, a Century of Light and Shadow, (ENG) translated by Andrea G. Labinger. 

And All of Us Were Actors  obtained second place (the first place went to In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende) for best fiction book in translation Spanish to English at the International Latino Book Award, 2018.

Camino de victoria. José Balmes,  # 69/70

Road to Victory. Serigraph by José Balmes, Cataluña, Spain, (1927-2016), # 69/70.

National Award of Art (1999), Balmes arrived in Chile in September 1939 aboard the Winnipeg along with 2000 other political refugees of the Spanish Civil War who, thanks to the initiative of Neruda, entered the country.

From the entrails of the mine,

From the top of the mountains

From the southern forests.

Arising from the tombs hidden in the desert,

in the depths of the sea,

the disappeared of my land

will one day be back.          G.G-A

Our Mission

   Gac-Artigas Foundation  

Art Without Borders

The goal of the Gac-Artigas foundation - AWB, a Non-Profit 501c Organization, is to promote an understanding of Latin American culture that considers its interrelationship to political and historical movements on a local, continental and global scale. In calling attention to such streams of influence, we aim to foster awareness of the transformative social impact culture can have, not just by responding to past events, but by anticipating and guiding collective understanding of events still to come.

If you are interested in programming

Memorias: Geography of a Decade: Chile 1973-1983,


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None of the images on this website can be reproduced without written authorization of the Gac-Artigas Foundation  

© 2016  AWB - Gac-Artigas Foundation - USA

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