In 1973, the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende was overthrown in a bloody coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. During the years following this military seizure of power, Chile became a country of fear, silence, exile and death.
Contact sheet, 1988
I had been working in Latin America through the late 70s into the 80s, very focused on human rights throughout Latin America and thinking about popular movements. I had been in Central America and also in Colombia, documenting the disappeared at a very early period. I wanted to go to the South to understand what had happened in the decade just previously.
In those years, it was extremely difficult to go to Chile until 1988. So at that time when it opened up for the press and outsiders, I went down.
The photographs that stay with me the most are the ones of people in public spaces. The "sense of people” in the plural; This sense of collectivity in the streets -- it was very strong. -S.M.
Chile from within is the pictorial record of the period that began with the torture and murder of Allende's supporters and the suppression of all dissent. It chronicles the growing opposition that culminated in the plebiscite of 1988, in which Pinochet's bid to stay in power was rejected.
The Chilean photographers whose pictures appear in the book worked for small magazines and underground newspapers, risking their lives to record the brutality of the "Pinochet years." Together, Susan and her Chilean counterparts created a collective account that reflects their hopes for change after a long period of isolation.
Photographs by Paz Errazuriz, Alejandro Hoppe, Alvaro Hoppe, Helen Hughes, Jorge Ianiszewski, Hector Lopez, Ken Lorenzini, J.D. Marinello, Christian Montecino, Marcelo Montecino, Oscar Navarro, Claudio Perez, Luis Poirot, Paulo Slachevsky, Luis Weinstein and Oscar Wittke
Susan laying out prints with fellow photographers from "Chile from within" in Santiago, 1988
The project that became the book Chile from within includes stories and images made by photographers who have lived through this period of 15 years under Pinochet, sharing with the world their vision and their perspective of how they saw the world around them. They internalized another dimension of "desde adentro," deciding that those photographers who left were not going to have any images in the book. That was a surprise to me because I came from a culture where I was incredibly inclusive.
Do you say, “Only those who are the most dedicated and have spent the most time on the streets and have lived through the most dramatic times should have their work in this book?” I took the counterpoint view which was, “The history is what we all contribute to in various ways and we should make something that lives for this history, which was a collective effort.” -S.M.
I look at this contact sheet and I remember we were selecting photos for the book in Helen’s house. There was Alvaro, Paz, Susan, Helen and I. Sitting in front is Marcelo. I photographed this moment as a register, a memory. I had never seen so many photos thrown onto the floor. It was new to me, and practical, there was no table that could hold all the photos. We also walked around barefoot. "Congratulations on being the one who had 48 of his 50 photos that remained in the first selection," said Helen Hughes. Afterwards, in the final edition, 11 photographs. I remember the long days we took turns looking at photos. At the end of the contact sheet, in a hotel in Buenos Aires after the workshop on photojournalism ended in La Plata, we met with Fred Ritchin, the editor of the New York Times, one of the photographic editors who participated in the meeting, with Claudio, Susan, Alvaro and I. This contact sheet connects me to the best of those times, generous professionally, the first collective book. What a learning experience, unforgettable, impossible to describe. I thank all the photographers who participated with me in those moments.
-Alejandro Hoppe, 2013