Your Eyes Tell the Story

Tus ojos cuentan la historia (Your Eyes Tell the Story) is a series of photographic portraits of women clad in diverse styles of masks, bursting into spaces of conflict that are usually chaotic and reserved for men. This project is an inquiry into the masked females, particularly the way that Chilean feminists appropriated the capucha as their insignia of personal creative expression and self-defense.

The October 18, 2019 uprising starts with a mixture of middle school and high school students, mostly girls, protesting another increase in subway fares. I realize something potent and unique is taking place with this generation, ranging from 14 years old to college-age adults. They are highly informed, have political and feminist awareness, and a deep concern regarding the low salaries and meager pensions of their parents and grandparents. It is difficult to ignore their pleas, that are all the more impressive coming from women who are so young, and yet so mature.

In the portraits, we can also appreciate an older generation of women, who were lucky to have survived as young adults the brutal dictatorship of the 70s and 80s. In 2019 and 2020, they are active once again in the protests, in support of their daughters and granddaughters.

These anonymous women confront the police alongside men in the Front Line, wearing face protection in the manner of the jihad, made of old t-shirts, sweatshirts, remnants of dresses, some of them accessorized with ski glasses and gas masks. Dressed in full riot gear, the police violently repress the protesters with pepper spray and rubber pellets aimed directly into their eyes—hundreds lost sight in one or both eyes. Soon after the protest begins, the Chilean government declares a law against wearing hoods, masks, or any kind of facial concealment.

During the Chilean Spring of 2019, thousands of women of all ages respond furiously to this new legislation and begin gathering every Friday evening to protest--amidst tear gas--in the Plaza de la Dignidad (formerly Plaza Baquedano). Wearing amazing masks that employ a variety of shiny and colorful fabrics, many prefer to use with stretchy materials for a better fit. They elaborate beautiful capuchas, balaclava style (1) embellished with intricate embroidery, pearls, feathers, and chains. In some cases, the women are members of artists’ collectives that produce their own garments, without claiming credit for the authorship of the designs. The final results are stunning masks that resemble and or reference various cultures and influences around the world.

During the social uprising, women put their bodies at the center of the conflict, with distinctive masks that make them highly visible amongst the multitude, voicing their anger through powerful

(1) A balaclava, also known as a ski mask, is a form of cloth headgear designed to expose only part of the face, usually the eyes and mouth.

performances and acts of solidarity with workers, pensioners, and teachers.

To date, the protest continues as a nameless and leaderless rebellion. There are no official speeches or spokeswomen and no political parties—right, left, and center—they have all lost credibility with this generation.

Tus ojos cuentan la historia proposes the idea of the masked and nameless Chilean feminists as our contemporary heroines. Not heroines in the epic sense, they are real women of flesh and blood, the anti-princesses, strong, brave and determined to decide for themselves. They are fighting and risking their lives to achieve justice, equal rights, sexual diversity, and gender identity. They understand the power of collective action to influence and demand profound changes in Chilean society.

Eugenia Vargas-Pereira

Tus ojos cuentan la historia series, 2019/2020
Digital photography. Variable dimensions

Eugenia Vargas-Pereira

born in Chillán, Chile, is a multidisciplinary artist known for her photography, time-based installations and performances, based in Santiago, Chile and Tucson, USA. Her work has been exhibited in venues such as Bienal 12, Porto Alegre, Brasil 20/20, Radical Women, The Hammer Museum, PST/LA/LA, USA, 2017; The LA Art Show 2017; We The People, Casablanca Biennale, Mezquita Hassan, Morocco, 2016; Limitrofe, The XX Bienal de Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, 2016. In 2003, she represented her country Chile at the 50th Venice Biennale, Dreams and Conflicts and invited Santiago’s Plaza de Armas stenopeic photographer Luis Maldonado to transport his street portrait studio and camera to the Giudecca Island. In 2011, her film Girls and Horses was featured in the exhibition Silence of The Beast, Centre Pompidou, Paris. In Miami, in 2000, she founded a low frequency radio, Talking Head Transmitters (THT) airing on FM to build a bridge between artists and community. THT has transmitted from Muzeum in Anaheim Ca, as part of PST/LA/LA; The LA Art Show; We The People, The Casablanca Biennale; New Works Miami Art Museum; the Museum Quartier in Vienna, Austria, Vienna Art Week; Intrude, Zendai Moma, Shanghai, China, among others.

Carla Rippey

Is an American-born visual artist (Kansas, 1950) based in Mexico City. Her work seeks to expand the margins of drawing and graphics applying strategies of appropriation, selection and edition.

She was educated in Paris, New York and Santiago de Chile and was active in the feminist movement in Boston and in the Chilean left from 1969 de 1973; she has lived in Mexico since 1973. In the 70s she took part in founding the Infrarrealist literary movement and participated in the collective artist's movement "Los grupos" through the artist’s collective Peyote and the Company.

She has had individual exhibitions in the Museum of Modern Art of Mexico, The University Museum "El Chopo", the National Print Museum and the Galería de Arte Mexicano and Galería Arróniz Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City, as well as the Graphics Institute of Oaxaca, Seguela Gallery in Guangzhou, China and the Mavi Museum in Santiago, Chile. Her recent group shows include Radical Women, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and the Brooklyn Museum, NYC; Gráfica Abierta: Rutas expansivas en la gráfica mexicana,, Arprim, Centre d'essai en art imprimé, Edificio Belge, Montreal, Canadá; Latin Fire: Otras fotografías de un continente, Photoespaña 2015, Madrid, and Estrella Distante: exposición en torno a los escritos de Roberto Bolaño, Regen Projects, Los Angeles, CA / Galería Kurimanzutto, CDMX.

She was Director of the National School of Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking "La Esmeralda” in Mexico City from 2013 to 2017. Since 1997 she has been a member of the Mexican national arts grant system (Sistema Nacional de Creadores) and has been a member of the National Academy of Arts, Mexico since 2018.