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I’ve known the members of The Melodic since we met quite randomly in the centre of Marrakech seven years ago and have remained great friends ever since; me and [The Melodic band member] Huw Williams both studied at Leeds University together. Three years ago, when I first heard The Melodic perform ‘Ode to Victor Jara’, I became inspired to create a piece of moving image with the same intent, passion and politics that first brought the band to write and play the song. The sounds and imagery conjured up by the song’s narrative and the eclectic mix of instruments and rhythms sparked a strong vision for how the song could be translated visually.
The idea was then slowly conceived over three years alongside intense periods of model making and research, which finally came to a head over the last month. With a tight deadline, quick intuitive prop-making, strong teamwork, and a two person animating/film crew (with a high-level of perseverance and no first-hand experience) the video was created.
I was lent an old copy of Joan Jara’s ‘Victor: An unfinished Song’ which I found moving and a poignant epilogue to Victor’s life and work. This provided a founding knowledge, which I was able to expand on using online resources, to research Victor’s legacy regarding the group Inti Illimani, Quilapayún and the Nueva Cancion Chilena (New Chilean Song) movement. Watching Patrico Guzman’s films, ‘The Battle of Chile’ and more recent ‘Nostalgia for the Light’, helped in gaining an understanding of the wider historical and political context surrounding Victor, the coup and post-Allende Chile. I collect vast amounts of pictures when collating research for any art project, so the film references images from Inti-Illimani album covers, Chilean protest artwork and slogans, local handicrafts, Andiean sculpture, pattern and folklore as well as landmarks such as the UNESCO costal town of Valparaíso.
One of the main intentions of the Nueva Canción movement was the renewel of folk traditions – something both I and The Melodic believe in too. Through the use of the marionette, old-fashioned toys, recycled materials and fabric, woodcarving and metalwork; Andean as well as European craft is combined and reinvented to portray a political message for a contemporary audience. The Arpilleras, three-dimensional appliqué textiles from Latin America (a basis for the villagers in the film) actually became a political tool for women to speak against Pinochet’s regime. The inclusion of ‘¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!’ (the people, united, will never be defeated!) directly references a widely used slogan and lyric of Quilapayún, a musical ensemble that Victor supported and worked closely with.
Victor had an extensive career in many areas of the arts and social activism, including theatre, dance and music. The idea that practicing creative arts should also involve political conviction is one I’d definitely share with Victor Jara.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
How can the heavily-armed Israeli state claim to be victimised by one teenage activist? By Richard Seymour.
Governments are manufacturing a new 'enemy within', write Yasser Louati and Malia Bouattia
The online currency started as an alternative to the failed financial system – but as a huge bubble inflates and bankers board the bandwagon, Tom Walker argues bitcoin has drowned in greed
Oliver Lemon explores what a 'robot tax' could look like, and whether it's an idea whose time has come.
Nic Beuret, Anja Kanngieser, and Leon Sealey-Huggins explore the effects of the COP23 negotiations on the global south.
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism