Ropa Americana: Paz Errázuriz X Museo de Arte Contemporáneo

POSTED: Saturday, January 12, 2019



Photographer Paz Errázuriz has collaborated with alternative fashion house Colectivo Malvestidas and activist Jorge Díaz to create her latest exhibition ‘Ropa Americana’. Renowned for her captivating and haunting photographs of marginalised groups, and her bravery and humanity as a photojournalist, Errázuriz never ceases to amaze and enthral. Her latest exhibition celebrates the collapse of boundaries between the masculine and feminine and explores non-binary identity and queer sensibility. In typical Errázuriz style, she gracefully combines a socially just message, an advanced political stance and exquisite art. 



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‘Ropa Americana’ was envisioned by the Colectivo Malvestidas in pursuit of their common goals. They encourage “critical practices in fashion, clothing and body”, and believe that fashion can be used as a means of empowerment and subversion by putting “disobedience as a liberating practice at the heart of the discussion”. Their curiosity, devotion to exploration and desire for new discourses in design encouraged them to begin their collective. This collaboration with Errázuriz builds upon these bold and inspiring ideas. 



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All of the models in this show identify as non-binary. In Chile, where both the political environment and world of art and design are relatively conservative this is no small thing.  The exhibition poses a challenge to social expectations and boundaries and in so doing it contributes to the ongoing cultural liberation of South America. Errázuriz has devoted her working life to this cause. Speaking about her most famous collection ‘Adams Apple’ (key pieces of which were on show at the Barbican in 2017) she describes her models with love and admiration: ‘‘the personal struggle they demonstrate in their refusal to conform or accept traditional notions of gender marks them out as unlikely heroes against a hostile political power determined to control and regulate every aspect of society.” Sadly, some twenty-eight years after the end of the dictatorship, this sentiment remains relevant, though this exhibition marks another step towards acceptance. 



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Born in Santiago in 1944, Errázuriz worked as a self-taught photojournalist during the military dictatorship, at great personal risk (and while as raising two young children!). She photographed the violence in the streets, took part in protests, and most famously photographed marginalised peoples including psychiatric patients, sex works, members of the trans-community and circus performers, at a time when their human rights were infringed on a daily basis. Errázuriz’s has said about her work: ‘They are topics that society doesn’t look at, and my intention is to encourage people to dare to look’.



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Every day, Errázuriz put herself at great personal risk. During the Pinochet regime, art, photography and journalism were strictly censored. For a woman to capture the unseen world of Chile during this time is almost incomprehensible. Thanks to her bravery Errázuriz was able to increase visibility and understanding, with tangible results. Her second collection, featuring photographs of patients in a Psychiatric hospital captured the horrifying conditions, while simultaneously humanising the patients by highlighting their loving relationships. Her photographs resulted in heightened awareness and social pressure and the conditions in the hospitals improved. Errázuriz is an incredible example of the power of art, the politics of beauty and the bravery of self-expression.



Prix De La Photo Madame Figaro Arles La Serie Mode De Paz Errazuriz Laureate 2017