Paz Errázuriz: The woman who defied the Pinochet regime

Paz Errázuriz documented people on the margins during the Pinochet regime in Chile. She describes how she operated under the radar, turning photography into political resistance.

Paz Errázuriz was a primary school teacher when the Chilean president Salvador Allende was overthrown by a military coup in 1973. She began photographing in the streets of Santiago. “It was a way… to do a sort of political resistance,” she says in this video, part of our Through the Lens series.


Click the play button above to watch the video.

Targeted by the police, who regularly searched her house, and navigating the military curfew, Errázuriz found less overt ways to confront the regime. “You can work in metaphors, you can work differently – a way to avoid them,” she says on how she defied the military through her photography. “I knew what you had to hide, or how.”

Errázuriz turned her lens on people on the edges of society, documenting marginalised communities such as psychiatric patients and circus performers under the dictatorship. She began her Adam’s Apple project in 1981, creating moving portraits of prostitutes who were often tortured and beaten by Pinochet’s regime. Many of them later died of Aids-related illnesses.

In the video, Errázuriz describes how she worked under the radar to produce an incredible body of work, evading censorship while using photography to reveal forgotten groups. “They talk about outsiders or minorities – for me they are… not outsiders, it’s just that the margin is where power looks differently. You have to show people or make people learn how to look.”

Click the play button above to watch the video.

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