1989 / The last supper – video of casa particular

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Location: San Camilo Street, Santiago, Chile.

Date: December 1989.

Documentation: Gloria Camiruaga / Leonora Calderón.

Other People/Associations: The travesties who participated in the video: la Madona, la Susana, la Alejandra, la Doctora, la Karen, la Palmenia, la Koni, la Paloma, la Jimena.

Description: Near the end of 1989, Francisco Casas and Pedro Lemebel visited the San Camilo neighborhood several times a week, with the intention of creating an intervention with the members of Casa Particular, a travesti bordello on San Camilo Street. Their visits ran parallel with the filming of a video directed by Gloria Camiruaga, documenting the same house. Years later, in one of his crónicas, Pedro Lemebel describes the street as a lost stronghold of travesti prostitution, which was disappearing in Santiago, alluding to the reach of HIV-AIDS, which had affected the travesti population irreversibly. Inspired by a wall hanging from one of the rooms in Casa Particular—a kitschy reproduction of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper—Pedro Lemebel and Francisco Casas gathered the bordello’s travestis to recreate the Christian last supper. One of the travestis, known as “la Doctora” (the queen of the bordello), was situated in the same place as Christ, holding a piece of bread and a cup of wine as she declared, “This is the last supper, the last supper of this government. This is my body, this is my blood.” A party then took place, with Casas singing a rendition of “Malena canta el tango,” originally recorded by Libertad Lamarque. This staging of the Last Supper was incorporated into Camiruaga’s film, Casa Particular, which also included interviews with the travestis of Casa Particular and other parts of the neighborhood. The work was exhibited a year later, in the “Video Art” section of the exhibition Museo Abierto (Open Museum), the first big group exhibition in the National Museum of Fine Arts after the democratic opening of Chile. The content generated a firestorm of criticism, with many arguing that the video should be censored and removed from the exhibition.

Exhibitions: Museo Abierto 1990 / Sao Paulo Biennale / Poner el cuerpo 2016