Paine Memorial

Artist: Various
Location: Paine, Chile
Year of completion: 2008
Researcher: Cally Ingebritson

Paine Memorial (“Memorial de Paine” in Spanish) is located in the small town of Paine, approximately 20 miles south of Santiago, the Chilean capital. Home to roughly 50,000 inhabitants, Paine means “blue sky” in Mapudungun, one of the main indigenous languages spoken in both Chile and Argentina. Paine is popular with Santiago residents for its camping sites covered in beautiful flora and fauna and is well known for hosting Expo Paine Rural, a festival celebrating local agriculture held each January.

Paine Memorial pays homage to 70 leftist, active Paine citizens, who were either executed or forcefully disappeared during the Pinochet dictatorship in 1973. This gives Paine the grievous distinction of having the highest disappearance rate per capita in all of Chile during the Pinochet era. The memorial calls itself “a place of remembrance” (“un lugar para la memoria”) and attempts to recognize those lost to the violence caused by the Chilean government.

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Paine Memorial consists of a forest made of individual timber logs totaling 1000, minus 70. Each log represents the friends and family left behind by those who died, while each missing log symbolizes those who lost their lives in the 1973 tragedy. In place of a log, family members of each victim were invited to design a personalized ceramic mosaic honoring their loved ones. The wooden poles are arranged in a square plot of land, covered with gray and beige pebbles.

In 2000 family members of the victims formed the group AFDD-Paine, Association of Families of the Detained-Disappeared (Agrupación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos y Ejecutados de Paine) as a means to speak out about what happened and also grief their loss. Three generations of Paine community members were involved in creating the Paine Memorial, making this a truly collective art project. The layout of the memorial invites individuals to reflect on the past as well as host events and meetings. The original design intended to make the memorial a permanent structure, but the Chilean government only provided enough funding to manage and maintain the memorial from a semi-permanent trailer placed alongside the memorial.

The Paine Memorial strives to be “una memoria viva,” a living memory with one goal: ¡Para que nunca más vuelva a ocurrir! (May this never happen again!)

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency