Photos of soldiers taking over La Moneda Palace. Pop art posters ridiculing the military. Paintings with lightning bolts destroying bodies. Drawings of doves as pledges for peace.
The University of Pennsylvania's Latin America and Latino Studies program is hosting "The Other 9/11," more than 100 artworks that commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Chilean military coup that overthrew President Salvador Allende on Sept. 11, 1973.
"This tells younger generations that this was the past, and that it can easily come back," said Gustavo Gac-Artigas, the award-winning Chilean writer, playwright, and theater director who acquired the collection together with his wife, Priscilla Gac-Artigas, during 10 years of political exile in France.
After General Augusto Pinochet led the coup to overthrow the first leftist president to be democratically elected in Latin America, the people of Chile were plunged into a 17-year regime marked by human-rights violations.
Intellectual leaders, including Gustavo, were kidnapped and tortured for months within detention camps. They were banned from Chile for life. Some found relief as refugees or political exiles in countries such as Spain and France. Officials say more than 3,000 were killed during the dictatorship, some of the bodies never recovered.
"If we don't expose and reconnect our students in the U.S. with its historical links to Latin America, we can't break the American bubble," said Priscilla Gac-Artigas, cocurator for the exhibit, and professor of Latin American Literature at Monmouth University.
The exhibit showcases original works by Chilean painters José Balmes, Gracia Barrios, and Guillermo Núñez, who created their work during their time as exiles in France. Tulia Falleti, director for Penn's Latin America and Latino studies program, said that the exhibit is "vital in reminding us to never forget the widespread terror perpetuated against civilians during the military coups … most of which had U.S. backing."
Daniela Johannes, 35, attended the exhibit's opening Tuesday night.
"I look at this and think of how I, a Chilean millennial, am still today a political migrant, about how much influence these times of dictatorship had in our decisions to make us leave," she said. "My feeling is that this is an ongoing migration."
"The Other 9/11 — Memories: Geography of a Decade, Chile 1973-1983," at Penn's Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, is open until Oct. 18.