Diamela Eltit, Zona de Dolor I / Maipu, 1980
Diamela Eltit
Zona de Dolor I / Maipu

Diamela Eltit (*1949, Chile) is a writer and co–founder of the Colectivo de Acciones de Arte (CADA), an interdisciplinary Chilean activist artistic collective which used performance strategies to oppose Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile (1973–1990) during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Her politically charged works examine issues of power, oppression, violence, femininity, and corporeality in Chilean society by combining literature and performance, action art and video documentation, urban intervention and poetry. Eltit was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1985 and became the Chilean cultural attaché to Mexico from 1990 to 1994. She has received numerous Literature awards including the Premio Nacional de Literatura de Chile in 2018 and both the Premio Carlos Fuentes and the Premio FIL de Literatura en Lenguas Romances in 2021.

In the performance Maipu, Eltit cut and burned her arms and legs inside a brothel while reading aloud part of her first novel Lumpérica, which describes a female character experiencing what she is performing. After the reading, Eltit washed the pavement in front of the brothel. This individual act of voluntary pain had a powerful resonance in a country collectively marked by the horrors of Pinochet’s violence.

Performance: 1980, Santiago, Chile
Camera: Ignacio Aguero
Editing: Lotty Rosenfeld, Diamela Eltit

Courtesy Diamela Eltit

Document media
Video, colour, sound, 5:08 min

Issue date

labour, language, violence, vulnerability, resistance