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Para parar la olla

As my idea develops, I am starting to narrow down the meaning of my artwork; or what I want the artwork to say.  It’s interesting how it takes me quite a few steps to get to where I want to go with the artwork and then when a viewer stands in front of the artwork, they decide what the artwork is saying to them.

The intension of the artist is often not known unless the viewer reads the ‘Artist Statement’.  In this blog my intensions are developing towards an end product, which is an interpretation of the poem ‘En este suelo habitan las estrellas’ by Elicura Chihuailaf.

The sketch below is from this week interpretation of the original poem ‘En este suelo habitan las estrellas’ however this interpretation takes the artwork a step further as I try to explore issues that effect the Mapuches in the every day.


Issues affecting the Mapuche people:

  • they are hungry,
  • they are poor,
  • living in appalling conditions.

Poverty amongst Mapuches

According to Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) 34.8% of 1.3 million Mapuches live below the poverty line in an area known as Bio Bio. In this area 52.3% of Mapuches are considered poor and marginalised[1].

A study entitled ‘Poverty and Inequality Among Ethnic Groups in Chile’ published in the World Development journal; it states that the wages for a Mapuche in 2006 was $1093/hr pesos in comparison with $1557/hr pesos for a non-indigenous person, “a reduction of nearly 30%”[2].

Unlike the original artwork or the straight interpretation of the poem posted on the 1st of April entitled ‘The thought process & the Mapuches’, this artwork is becoming more complex with the introduction of social issues affecting the Mapuches.

The artwork

The stars and the water drops are now hanging from the top as one.

In the centre of the picture, there will be an aluminium cooking pot upside down.


The meaning of the ‘cooking pot’ – La Olla

‘Para parar la olla’ is a common phrase used in Chile.  In English you could say that it phrase can be translated as ‘to enable the pot to stand up’, meaning: to enable the pot to stand on its base the pot needs to have food inside to be able to cook it.

As I was growing up in Chile ‘Para parar la olla’ and many other phrases where used to give a double meaning or to refer to every day life in a more or less sarcastic way.

In other words, if the pot is not sitting on its base and it’s facing down, the pot does not have any food in it and consequently the family in that house hold would not have money to buy food to eat.  The people are hungry.

Where the cooking pot idea came from: 

When I went back to Chile for a holiday in 1984 with my parents.  There was still a lot of unrests in the streets of Santiago due to the political situation Chile after the military coup in 1973.

I began to notice a banging sound/noise at the same time every afternoon at approximately 7pm.  One night I heard the noise and I asked my untie about the noise.  She informed me that every night the housewives go out in front of their houses and they proceeded to bang on the empty cooking pots as a sign of discontent with the government.  This gesture was a protest to inform the government their dissatisfaction with high unemployment which directly affected their families because they don’t have money to buy food and they are hungry.  Thus; there is no food para parar la olla.

[1]http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session5/CL/UNPO_CHL_UPR_S5_2009_UnrepresentedNationsandPeoplesOrganization.pdf  Submission to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Universal Periodic Review: Chile.  Accessed April 7, 2012.

[2] Agostini, C., Brown, P., Roman, A., Poverty and Inequality Among Ethnic Groups in Chile. World Development 2010, Vol. 38, No. 7,  1036–1046.