Dos preguntas

(Two questions) 1986
Paseo Ahumado, Santiago, Chile

The Performance consisted of each carrying a sign on the chest, with a question:
Claudia's poster said: Why are you smiling? And my poster said: Why are you sad?

For me these two simple questions that appeal to an emotional sphere were subversive, at a time when censorship played a determining role at all levels and the control of authoritarianism infiltrated many aspects of life. On the other hand, the Dictatorship was determined to give a democratic image, but the most insignificant gestures were grounds for repression.
In this context, asking these questions meant questioning the limits of freedom.
We were still in a curfew, a measure that was lifted in 1987.

We settled on the Paseo Ahumada, about 15 meters from each other, doing nothing.
These two simple questions woke up, at that time, an unexpected commotion, dozens of people approached us and expressed their opinions, their truths. It was impressive to see the tremendous need for expression that passersby had. There was a generalized anguish, they all spoke of loss, of pain, of sadness, of unemployment, of damage.

Later a bus arrived from Carabineros. Some of them got out and approached aggressively, soon began to give lumazos to the spectators and tried to disperse people. Other carabineros approached me demanding my documentation, I gave them to them.
Very quickly it began to fill the place of more passers-by who looked and some; defying authority, they asked me to be quiet ... It was wonderful!

One of the policemen was very confused with my action: first he reacted hard and demanded me; in a dry tone; I gave him my documents, I gave them to him. Then he said: "Explain to me, what are you doing here?" I answered calmly: "I'm doing an art action". Then he looked at me confused and asked me: "What is that?" I said: "An act that is not theater and it is not dance, it is on the limit". Then he told me hard: You know that this is forbidden! I replied: "No, I did not know." Then I asked him "Tell me: Why are you sad?", The carabinero told me bluntly: "I'm not sad! " Then I refuted, calmly: "I do not ask you as a uniformed person, but as a human being, as a person, tell me, why are you sad?" Then the carabiniere changed his face and his attitude and replied in a tame tone: "Yes, in truth you also have your problems: the family, the house, the lady, the children ...", later he continued: "Miss, you I ask you to leave here, I do not want to stop it. Here there is a tumult, and this is forbidden. If he does not leave, I'll have to take her prisoner. " Then I said: "Sure, I'm leaving, thanks!"
This gesture of becoming human in the attitude of the policeman was salvation.

In the end they let me go ... The crowd followed us, asking us not to leave, to come back another day ... Then the people dispersed and we were again anonymous in the flow of the streets.

Photo-Documentation: Cucho Márquez