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Chilean artist Mario Toral speaks of his experiences when he arrived in New York as an exile in 1973, immediately after the coup d'état led by General Augusto Pinochet. He compares the squandering of North Americans, who throw everything away, with the pressing needs and thrift of the Chileans, who save and make full use of everything. He criticizes consumer society, which he associates with dissatisfaction and frustration. He goes on to talk about art from the United States, which, in his view, “is also afflicted with the disease and alienation of consumerism.” He describes North American art as narcissistic and says that [in the United States] there is a complete lack of interest in art from South America. He asserts that very few artists have stayed on in Chile after the overthrow of the constitutionally elected president Salvador Allende, and that few of those who have stayed cooperate with the dictatorial regime. Toral states that the events in his country affected him so much that his painting underwent a major change.


In this text, Mario Toral remarks that before giving this lecture, Puerto Rican artist Lorenzo Homar introduced him; he also mentions the city of Havana, the place where the symposium took place. This information suggests that this lecture was given at the Tercer Encuentro de Artistas Plásticos Latinoamericanos [Third Encounter of Latin American Visual Artists] (1979) held in Havana, Cuba.

Flavia Marichal Lugo
Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico