An Interview with Carmen Aravena Indo

In this video, we are introduced to a pioneer in the fight against a repressive regime and advocate for better human rights, all through the production and dissemination of arpilleras. Carmen, a Santiago native discusses her pathway into the arpillera world and what her advocacy represents to her, while also explaining her role in the overall structure that were underground arpillera workshops. One of the most important aspects of this video is learning about the secrecy surrounding the arpillera workshops. Carmen gives us an inside view of these workshops by describing a delegation of the duties necessary for the production of arpilleras. The main purpose of this video is to allow viewers a chance to better understand and comprehend the role of women in the fight against the government and how the use of artwork is helpful in the promotion of peaceful and impactful demonstrations that call for democracy. Carmen to this day remains an active leader of a taller of arpilleristas in the northern comuna (district) of Renca.

Arpilleras & The Movement

Arpilleras are a type of tapestry that got its name from the Spanish word for the burlap backing artists used to make them. During the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, many Chilean women created complex tapestries depicting the harsh conditions of life and the emotional pain felt from their family members being disappeared by the Pinochet regime. What started as a quiet way for the Chilean women to express themselves throughout the regime became the symbol of women's protest against the Pinochet dictatorship. 

The Arpilleras were a tangible way for the women to preserve the memory of los desaparecidos, the disappeared people, and the brutality they endured as well as the other hardships of daily life that were largely attributed to Pinochet's rule. The recording of these hardships was an act of protest in and of itself. But it also empowered the women to get involved in other protests and claim a wider role for women in Chilean society. 

Flip through the media carousel below to see a selection of arpilleras from our collection.