Curated by Juan José Santos, the multidisciplinary exhibition “ANDER: Cultural resistance in El Trolley and Matucana 19” looks back on Santiago counterculture during the Pinochet era through the lens of two sweaty underground spaces. The curatorial conceit is to render the creative output of these cultural epicenters into liquid time, so that the sounds of iconic experimental pop bands such as Electrodomésticos, the metatheater of Ramón Griffero, the wild performances of queer icons Yeguas del apocalipsis, the postmodern zine Beso Negro (1984–90), the installations of Víctor Hugo Codocedo, and the feminist interdisciplinary cultural festival 3,000 Mujeres all flow over the decades into the present. Staged in the basement of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Chile, “ANDER”—the local pronunciation of “under,” as in “underground”—prioritizes sensory and often occasionally fragmented encounters with the tactile, aural, and visual cultures of the two clubs, conveying the hedonism, censorship, subversion, and violence that marked Pinochet’s 1980s—and that arguably still mark contemporary Santiago.
Didactics are kept to a minimum, as is the lighting. Artwork and archives are gently illuminated, and video and slide-based works glow throughout the basement gallery. The exhibition design, led by José Délano, is both seductive and loose, inviting an intuitive engagement with the material culture of El Trolley and Matucana 19. There is too much content to absorb in any one visit, but the show swiftly immerses you in its memory-world, evoking the creative and corporeal defiance of two key community spaces long ago razed to make way for the dreams of urban developers.
“ANDER” is only the latest in a series of recent exhibitions that revisit artistic and cultural moments censored or lost during the dictatorship. But it turns its attention away from restaging white-cube shows to instead mine the messy happenings of the underground as generative sites of memory and resistance.