Original cover of Chile from within, 1990
Susan laying out prints with fellow photographers from "Chile from within" in Santiago, 1988
The project that became the book Chile from within includes stories and images made by photographers who have lived through this period of 15 years under Pinochet, sharing with the world their vision and their perspective of how they saw the world around them. They internalized another dimension of "desde adentro," deciding that those photographers who left were not going to have any images in the book. That was a surprise to me because I came from a culture where I was incredibly inclusive.
Do you say, “Only those who are the most dedicated and have spent the most time on the streets and have lived through the most dramatic times should have their work in this book?” I took the counterpoint view which was, “The history is what we all contribute to in various ways and we should make something that lives for this history, which was a collective effort.”
I look at this contact sheet and I remember we were selecting photos for the book in Helen’s house. There was Alvaro, Paz, Susan, Helen and I. Sitting in front is Marcelo. I photographed this moment as a register, a memory. I had never seen so many photos thrown onto the floor. It was new to me, and practical, there was no table that could hold all the photos. We also walked around barefoot. "Congratulations on being the one who had 48 of his 50 photos that remained in the first selection," said Helen Hughes. Afterwards, in the final edition, 11 photographs. I remember the long days we took turns looking at photos. At the end of the contact sheet, in a hotel in Buenos Aires after the workshop on photojournalism ended in La Plata, we met with Fred Ritchin, the editor of the New York Times, one of the photographic editors who participated in the meeting, with Claudio, Susan, Alvaro and I. This contact sheet connects me to the best of those times, generous professionally, the first collective book. What a learning experience, unforgettable, impossible to describe. I thank all the photographers who participated with me in those moments.
-Alejandro Hoppe, 2013