Mistral’s imaginary

“Humanity is yet to be humanized.” This Mistral quote printed on a giant photograph of its author installed on GAM’s façade, completely covering a panoramic window that looks into Alameda. This giant image has positioned Gabriela Mistral and her thought permanently in the building since 2015. Since then, she has become the background for every civil demonstration walking through Alameda into Santiago’s downtown, the natural course of every protest and celebration in the city.

With the installation of this image began the task of constantly rescuing different facets of Mistral, seeking to emphasize the current validity of her thought and associating her figure with the cultural center.


After the social movement exploded on October, 2019, the façade of the building was covered #ManifiestoGAM, a photomontage where Gabriela Mistral was a leader of a demonstration that reunited Chilean cultural leaders manifesting in support of feminist struggles. The collage intended to portrait how the discourse that emanates from the citizenship dialogues with the cultural center’s programming. Thus, slogans taken from real demonstrations, such as: “sorry to bother, but we’re being murdered” appeared right beside phrases written by figures like Mistral, such as: “My indigenism made me hateful,” and phrases taken by plays staged on GAM, such as this one, taken from Mistral, Gabriela (1945): “In Chile the highest art form is to play the fool.”

Some time after the social explosion, #ManifiestoGAM disappeared from the façade and was spontaneously replace innumerable artistic expressions created by the citizens. One of them was a figure of Gabriela Mistral created by Fab Ciraolo, who portrayed her with jeans, boots, t-shirt, a green handkerchief, and the ubiquitous black flag seen in demonstrations. But in the morning of February 19, 2020, GAM’s façade appeared covered in paint, so the decision was made to remove it, restore it and preserve it.

During 2017, Gabriela Mistral was Violeta Parra host during Gabriela & Violeta, GAM’s campaign created to celebrate the singer-songwriter’s 100 years. For months the building hosted life-size wool dolls of the artists woven by Macarena Ahumada. The dools welcomed people into the building and exhibited a variety of quotes on woven sackcloth. The campaign included a web series that allowed a dialogue between the social thinking of both Mistral and Parra with the present. This was achieved through a selection of quotes and their own works. Childhood, gendered violence, inequality and discrimination were just a few of the addressed issues. The series even made it to CNN Chile, where the dolls were interviewed by Mónica Rincón, and was transmitted in Metro TV.

Gabriela Mistral has been the face of several campaigns by the cultural center. She was the image of 2019’s programming, with renewed, multifaceted, contemporary aesthetics. Her face was drawn multiple times paired with elements that transformed her into the President, a Mapuche woman or a founder of the republic, and bringing her into the present by using a smartphone. All of this accompanied by the verse: “I don’t want my girl to be made a princess”, translated into Mapudungun and Haitian Creole. Mistral was also the face of the campaign GAM en casa, which translates as GAM at home, developed during the Covid-19 pandemic provoked lockdown.

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