Hoxton artist pays tribute to Chilean icon Victor Jara’s “broken hands”

Otto Schader

Otto Schader - Credit: Archant

A Hoxton artist has unveiled his memorial Chilean icon Victor Jara, the Chilean icon slaughtered for speaking out against the regime of dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Otto Schade’s tribute, “Broken Hands”, refers to the late Chilean folk musician’s hands which were broken after his arrest during the brutal military coup led by General Pinochet 40 years ago on September 11 1973.

Jara – once described by Rolling Stone Magazine as “one of history’s biggest rebels” - was taken to the infamous national football stadium which was used as a makeshift concentration camp during the coup, and brutally tortured and killed.

His body was later found dumped on a random pavement in Santiago with 42 bullet wounds to the head and body, and his British wife Joan Jara buried him alone.

“I was haunted by the tale that Jara’s hands were broken during his ordeal, that he was forced to sing with a guitar he couldn’t play because of his broken hands - hence the name of the show,” said 41-year old Mr Schade, who grew up in Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship and found Mr Jara was an inspiration to “everyone who was trying to understand what was happening”.

“His lyrics had resonance, listening to his music was an act of rebellion,” said Mr Schade, who lives in Crondall Street.

“This year I heard about Victor being named one of the 15 most controversial composers in history and I began to think about his influence, I hope to bring to life something of his spirit and pay homage by creating this installation.”

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The torture and murder of the internationally renowned folk singer became symbolic of a vicious regime that despised creativity and equality, led to thousand of Chileans being executed, disappeared and around a million forcibly exiled, hundreds of whom came to the UK.

In December 2012 a judge in Chile ordered the arrest of those responsible for Victor Jara’s murder.

The move was dubbed “a message of hope” by his widow, who said however that a lot remains to be done to ensure justice not only for Victor Jara, but for all the victims of Chile’s military dictatorship.

More arrests are now expected after a judge indicted eight ex-officers, including one who lives in the US.

The exhibition runs until Sunday September 29 at at Rough Trade East in The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane.