Exhibition | Performance | Workshop Dignidad

Colonia Dignidad © María Verónica San Martín

Tue, 10/10/2023 -
Thu, 10/19/2023

1:00 AM - 7:30 PM

Goethe-Institut Montreal

A Project by María Verónica San Martin

Produced by Creativo Arts Collective Canada

New York-based Chilean artist María Verónica San Martin will present the Dignidad project from October 10 to 19, 2023 at the Goethe-Institut.

Dignidad consists of an exhibition, a performance entitled Moving Memorials and a workshop on Colonia Dignidad, a secretive colony in the south of Chile that became a major site for clandestine operations by the DINA—the Pinochet Regime’s intelligence forces—in collaboration with the CIA and Nazi officers, who had been relocated to Chile after World War II. At least 300 people were tortured and close to 100 people were executed without trial at the site. Many of the bodies have still not been located; some are buried in mass graves and some were incinerated in 1978 to eliminate evidence. Soviet-born and naturalized Jewish-American math professor Boris Weisfeiler is among them.

Exhibition and Performance
Dignidad features the first facsimiles facilitated by the National Archives of Chile and previously unreleased audio found by Winfried Hempel, a survivor of Colonia and lead lawyer for the human rights violation case being prosecuted in Chile at this time. Winfried and San Martín have been collaborating on the exhibition since 2016. Through sculpture, sound, performance, text, and a selection of historical archives, San Martin reveals a complex system of codes and transcontinental actions that culminated in crimes against minors and opponents of the Chilean civic-military dictatorship (1973-1990).

The core of the exhibition is comprised of four large-scale kinetic metal sculptures, based on the first prototype metal sculpture entitled Colonia Dignidad: Dystopic Utopia —which San Martin, together with three local artists, will activate in her performance on opening night—surrounded by the immersive audio recording that reveals the secret operations between Nazi agents in Peru, Germany, and Chile. The piece was developed during San Martin’s participation in The Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and debuted in a public performance at Artists Space (NY) in May 2018.

The artist calls this sculpture “a political abstraction [that] refers to Colonia Dignidad’s history through a performance that physically deconstructs and reconstructs symbols of power.” The physical morphing of the sculpture into various symbolic architectures manifests both the intersectionality of history and ongoing relevance and resonance of the ideologies evoked by these symbols.

Emma de Ramón, Director of the National Archives of Chile, states, “Memory in Chilean society is highly relevant these days and the historical archives have become a key source, not only for research, but for artistic creation as well. When artists use historical archives as a resource to create, they can transform the archive’s nature and help to overcome the amnesia we live in, while subverting the text, the image, and the object. We can certainly observe and experience this transformation in San Martin’s exhibition.”

Dignidad is presented in order to catalyze a renewed and invigorated search for the bodies of the disappeared and, ultimately, to close Colonia Dignidad, which today functions as a tourist resort and German restaurant called Villa Baviera, still owned and run by descendants of the original Nazi and Pinochet collaborators that ran Colonia.

For this participatory performance and workshop, San Martin will share her Moving Memorials performance followed by a workshop which instructs attendees in her creative process guiding them on the path to bring their own personal history and experience to bear in building a holistic, three-dimensional memory palace through an artist book construction. All materials will be supplied on site and participants will be able to take their creation home at the end of the workshop.

María Verónica San Martin
María Verónica San Martin (she/her) is a Chilean New York-based multidisciplinary artist and educator who explores the impacts of history, memory, and trauma through archives, artist books, installation, sculpture and performance. San Martin was a fellow at the Whitney Museum’s ISP, a scholar at the NY Center for Book Arts and holds an MA from The Corcoran School of Art and Design, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. Her work is part of more than 60 collections including the Pompidou (Paris), Met (NYC), and Museum of Memory and Human Rights (Santiago, Chile). She has exhibited nationally and internationally including the Immigrant Artist Biennial in New York, a public art at Rockefeller Center and a recent performance at Lincoln Center. San Martin has been awarded two New York Foundation for the Arts, a Sustainable Arts award and three National Chilean grants. María is currently working on a commission for NMWA’s Holding Ground: Artists’ Books for the National Museum of Women in the Arts project and having her third solo exhibition at Fordham University entitled Chile, Dignidad: 1973-2023 and curated by Carl Fischer. She teaches at Parsons, The New School,  and the Center for Book Arts, both in NYC, at Penland School of Craft, NC, at The University of Miami, OH, and is part of the education program of Booklyn Art as well as an artist and board member.

Tuesday, October 10 at 6:00 p.m.: Opening of the exhibition, performance of Dignidad and artist talk.

Wednesday, October 11 at 10:00 a.m.: Performance of Moving Memorials and workshop

Registration: caroline.gagnon@goethe.de | 514-499-0159, extension 107
Open to any age and no experience in bookbinding is needed.

Thursday, October 19: End of the exhibition