A Chilean art fair was postponed due to safety concerns over protests.
A demonstrator waves a Chilean flag during a protest against the government’s economic policies in Santiago on October 29, 2019. Photo by Claudio Reyes/AFP via Getty Images.
The Contemporary Art Fair of Chile (Chaco) has postponed its 11th edition until next year due to concerns over protests in Chile impeding preparations. The protests started on October 18th over a metro system fare hike, but they have grown to encompass issues like high levels of inequality and a thin social safety net. At least 19 people have been killed in the uprising so far, with protesters looting supermarkets, setting metro stations on fire, and demonstrating in the streets.
Elodie Fulton, executive director of Chaco, said in a statement that she thought the protests could subside within a month—the fair was set to open November 21st. But the production teams are currently working fewer hours due to “safety conditions,” meaning they might not have adequate time to prepare for the fair. As a result, Chaco has been rescheduled to March 2020.
“During these months, when the country needs more sensitivity and reflection, we will continue working to contribute from art to our culture,” she added.
The Art Newspaper reports that some galleries in Chile have temporarily closed as a result of the protests, while some artists and galleries are mobilizing to support protestors. Sagrada Mercancía, an artist-run space in Santiago, has temporarily stopped exhibiting art and is serving as a safe space for protestors and a medical assistance center.
The protests came as a surprise to many outside of Chile, as the country had been viewed as one of the most stable in the region. It is the highest-ranked Latin American country on the UN Human Development Index. However, neoliberal reforms put in place under dictator Augusto Pinochet last century have created high levels of wealth disparity. Vox reports that almost half of Chile’s workforce is in debt, while the top 1 percent of the country earns 33 percent of its wealth.