2054 – Francisco Papas Fritas
In the time of the secret there is no corpse. This time of the unsaid, of the forgotten bodies, seems to have no other movement than that of the arrow escaping into the future. For tomorrow’s time, these bodies, their memories and their wounds will be nothing more than an old file whose forced confidentiality has snatched their speech from them. This advance time of the secret is only payroll and cipher. The secret is but another name of power.
The time of power is in projection and calculation. It is not surprising that the time of neoliberalism is described in speculation, in the game of buying and selling that relies on the time to come to increase profits. This has also been the time of the democracy of the governments of Concertación and that of Nueva Mayoría, which have not ceased to displace social justice into an uncertain future. There would be an elective affinity between the democratic order that begins with the governments of the Concertación and the neoliberal order. This affinity would be no other than the temporality described in the word “future.” Time of malls, supermarkets and corporate democracy. A democracy that has displaced from its definition the idea of the government of the people to replace it, instead, by the government of the economic elites, both national and foreign. That is its only interest, that is its only order.
In this movement of the progression that makes fit democracy and future ends up erasing traces, vestiges and memories. It is by this temporality – which progress imposes – that the present time is narrated in a script that does not change, always predictable, that blindly relies on the procedures and the figure of alternation. Alternation of the ephemeris that forces to change groceries in the supermarket, alternation that forces to change the political block in the government of common agreement to the political-business interests. All this and with a strong need to suppress the past, either because it is considered an index of unresolved conflicts, either because it is perceived as outdated. Hence, while the temporality of the order of elitist-corporate democracy is the future, its realization is none other than that of an eternal present.
It is for this logic of anticipation, which does not seem to be different from the logic of neoliberalism, that although the secret of the archives of the Valech Report (informe Valech) leads us to 2054; The state’s declassification of these would take place, however, in a timeless present that has broken all ties with the past. That other time of the trace and the vestige, but which is also the possibility of another policy, and of other bodies, is suppressed in the coming time of 2054.
It would not be wrong to insist that this time is the time of disappearance. Disappearance of corpses, memories and justice by imposing the horror / terror of a future-present of the secret. Thus, secrecy not only implies the impossibility of knowing facts and names. It not only implies the impossibility of justice. The secret is also, and above all, the cancellation of the “present” itself. Here, a proviso is necessary, we do not make reference to that eternal present, without time, of commercial offers and of electoral routines, but, on the contrary, to the “present” whose realization must necessarily look to the past, to its histories, voices and politics. That return, that arrest, that look back is the one that prevents the secret.
This urgent stop and turn to the past is what the visual artist Francisco Papas Fritas, has undertaken together with ex-political prisoners of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (Movimiento de Izquierda revoculionaria, MIR) in the project Popular Desclasificación (Desclasificación popular) (2015).
An art project that seeks to interrupt the suspension of time imposed by the state secret intervening the mechanism of silence deployed by the National Commission on Political Prison and Torture created by Supreme Decree No. 1,040 in 2003. In a willing fold, although inadvertent, in Law number 19.992 – which establishes reparations, benefits and also the secret – Francisco Papas Fritas together with former political prisoners and an interdisciplinary group of researchers and activists warn the possibility of using the same device of silence to make known the Testimonies that are part of the Report of the National Commission on Political Prison and Torture (Valech Report).
Article 15 of this law imposes the secret, but also its twist. It reads: “As long as the secrecy provided in this article applies, no person, group of persons, authority or magistracy shall have access to what is indicated in the first paragraph of this article, without prejudice to the personal right that attends the holders of the documents , reports, statements and testimonies included in them, to make them known or provided to third parties of their own free will. ” Two opposing meanings. The imposition of secrecy on the one hand and the individual right to “own” one’s own life, their stories, statements and testimonies on the other hand. Prohibition and possibility.
It is in the contrast of these two senses that art and politics are placed in contiguity. In this controversial place, in which the law is disputed by the law itself, Francisco Papas Fritas makes art an appropriate place for political intervention. Intervention that can not only be described as a critical operation that seeks to highlight an order of dominance and oppression but also as a visual device that seeks nothing more than the transformation of the existing order. That and no other is the intention of the installation Popular declassification whose inauguration took place in Matucana 100, on September 26, 2015.
The project of Popular Desclasificacion is an art project that has as its object the transformation of this political order that has been cemented in the secret and the oblivion. Hence this facility seeks to be an intervention mechanism, a way to access the past. The installation is simple: a video broadcasting a series of interviews on human rights; A dry tree hung on the outskirts of the museum, almost interrupting the transit of the carefree audience / spectators; And a manual of declassification that in entitled Popular Desclasificacion . The latter is the piece that activates a complex device that not only puts into tension what is understood by art but also what is understood by politics.
This peculiar piece of gear of the declassification device indicates the steps to follow to make public the files that have been kept secret as well as the way in which these can be declassified avoiding the penal sanctions imposed by Law 19.992. The disclosure and declassification platform is a public use and knowledge web page. In this gesture, in assuming the assistant / spectator as a political activist and a hacker, the art scene becomes a political scene in which the very distinction between spectator and activist is suppressed. That is why the visual device deployed in Popular Declassification is equally a political device. The art scene continuing and intervening beyond its scene, beyond its installation. Art and politics turned indiscernible. It is only by this point in contact between art and politics – or, rather, by the continuity of art in politics and art in politics – that it is possible to frame within the project of art Popular declassification presentation a resource of protection for Declassify the testimonies of the Valech Report.
It should be noted that on August 2, 2016, the Court of Appeals of Santiago fails positively and receives the remedy of protection that opens the possibility of ending the secret. Where does art start, where does politics end? The visual device itself popular declassification resists operating on the distinction and classification, its procedure is closer to infiltration and contagion. This is also the case in Francisco Papas Fritas’ installation 2054.
This installation, whose title is the year of the supposed end of secrecy, consists of a set of pictures that mostly have no other image than that of the reflection, others, the less, contain pieces from the archives of the testimonies of those men and women who suffered political prison and torture during the military dictatorship that began in Chile with the coup d’état of 1973. It is relevant to note that these files were recovered through the visual device of popular declassification. Near them, another series of images with the official photographs of those who have governed Chile from the 1990 until today; Plus the SI and No posters of the 1989 election campaign. Only a minimal alteration: both Yes and NO posters are inverted, making the following legend visible: is on. More clearly it is allowed to read: The Secret is on. The secret is, the secret is visible, the secret in the full light.
Close to those images that make explicit the secret, it is exhibited a video-performance whose focus of attention is none other than a body. A violent body. This is the body of Francisco Papas Fritas who pretends to be part of a torture scene. This scene is interspersed with a tattoo session that is written letter-by-letter a testimony of the Valech Report on the artist’s back. A body – that of torture and that of the artist – that despite its fragility resists the silence imposed by the logic of secrecy inscribing in itself a testimony of horror. Moreover, a body that brings back to the present stories, memories and wounds. A body that does not seem to be distinct from that dry tree of Villa Grimaldi emplaced in Matucana 100 during the installationof Popular Declassification. A body, then, as a place of resistance and memory. Again, here, art insisting beyond its scene. Where is life? Maybe in the file that makes life insists despite the secret. Perhaps, in the image of a body that registers in itself an account of violence. And where to place the art? Perhaps precisely, there, in the intertwining of two registers of materiality: the letter and the image. It is in both registers where a body is described. It is in both registers where life and art are placed, controversially.
It is in the twist, in the possibility of a second polemical reading, that 2054 more than being only the year proposed by the Chilean State for the declassification of the archives of the Valech Report becomes a key of access to the present. A present that is described in two planes: one, the one of the secret; The other, that of the political resistance of popular declassification. Both plans, however, are articulated in the number 2054.
For the secret is the year of the state declassification and the emptying of the sense of politics. Emptying and also erasure of memory as in the series of four images of the installation 2054 in which time and secret end up erasing the traces of violence and imposing silence on our past, on our bodies. The time of the secret is the future-present. For the aesthetic political resistance, 2054 is the figure that initiates the movement of the visual political device of the popular declassification. Your time is the present-past. This temporary configuration is that of names, memories and lives. It is also the time of the archive, art and politics.