Villa Grima ldi: Archeology of Memory in Three Cantos

“Villa Grimaldi: Archaeology of Memory” is an art-piece  that includes: a musical suite, a book and a documentary film and a multimedia installation.  The work is a creation of Chilean artist Quique Cruz (aka Claudio Duran).

The work gathers the art and the experiences of six artists who were detained in one of the most infamous torture centers during the Chilean military dictatorship of Pinochet: Villa Grimaldi.

For the past four years, Quique Cruz  has been interviewing, photographing and filming a group of artists–poets, painters, writers, playwrights, musicians– who have created a narrative in which they explore the contradictions of terror and aesthetics, the notion of pain and beauty and how to convert darkness into light.

History of the Project

In 1975, by a direct order from Pinochet, the military created the secret service, the DINA. They chose as their torture operating headquarters a place called Villa Grimaldi, located on the lower slopes of the Andean Mountain range, in the Peñalolen valley, near Santiago. It had been a beautiful Villa, with a history of wealth and with close ties to powerful Chilean elites. It was here that the overall strategy for repression and systematic elimination—physical and political—was thought out and refined in the most important years of the dictatorship. During the years of full operation, from 1975 to 1978, close to three hundred people are believed to have disappeared from Grimaldi and more than five thousand men, women and children were tortured in Terra Nova / The Palace of Laughter, as the “special personnel” of the torture center baptized it.


At the end of the dictatorship (1986-90), the military sold the center to real estate developers with plans to build up-scale condominiums on the site. The Villa was partially burned down and then demolished. As demolition was taking place, people organized and fought a prolonged legal battle to preserve the history of this place. In 1997 “El Parque por la Paz” was built as a monument in memory of those who suffered the dark times of Terra Nova.

Personal Story Relating to Villa Grimaldi

The day after my nineteenth birthday, I was detained by Pinochet’s secret police and spent one month as a desaparecido in the Villa Grimaldi torture center. Later, I spent one long year in four different concentration camps in central Chile. In 1976, I was expelled from the country and was allowed to return safely only towards the end of the dictatorial regime in 1989. It was not until I began a graduate program in Cultural Studies at Stanford University that I started to realize the nature of my past experiences as a survivor from the hands of Pinochet’s special secret service. It finally dawned on me that I had been carrying around a fragmented history inside a hermetically sealed suitcase which I had never really wanted to unpack. It was the last suitcase that I had brought into exile, the one that was forgotten in the corner of my memory, hidden probably because of my fear of unwanted demons.

I feel that one of the most important contributions that I have to offer to the discussion about memory, torture, the relationship between terror and aesthetics, political violence, and survival, is to pick up the pieces and try to assemble the dark puzzle that is the legacy of the dictatorial period.

This project has been supported in its different stages by:

Corporación Villa Grimaldi: Parque por la paz, Santiago Chile
The National Endowment for the Arts, USA
California Art Council, USA
Ford Foundation, Chile
The Chilean Consulate in San Francisco, USA.
Center for the Investigation of Gender, University of Chile (Santiago)
LOM Publications, Chile
The Puffin Foundation, USA
La Peña Cultural Center, Berkeley, California, USA

Artists participating on project.

Quique Cruz is a writer, musician / composer, and media artist.  He is the creator, writer and art director of this project. Quique Cruz is also the coordinator and the producer of the book, the musical suite, exhibit and the documentary film. Quique Cruz is Ph.D. candidate in the “Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University.” He holds a Masters in Latin American Studies from Stanford University and a B.A in History from UC Berkeley.  In 2002, he was recipient of a grant from the Ford Foundation to do the investigation for this project. (click para decargar curriculum)

Marilyn Mulford is a Sundance documentary warded filmmaker.  Her latest documentary film “Freedom on my Mind” was also nominated for an Oscar.  She is coo-producing and coo-directing the documentary film.  Her organization Interfaze Educational Productions is located at the Saul Zaentz Media Center Building, in Berkeley California.

Adam Kufeld is a noted photo-journalist and art photographer, Adam Kufeld. Norton and Company Press has published two of Mr. Kufeld’s photography books about Latin America and he has worked in Chile on two occasions.

Guillermo Prado is in charged for graphic designed in all of its aspects: the book, the CD cover and booklet,  as well as the graphics for the film and the web site.  Mr. Prado works from his 8point2 Design  Studio in Bekeley, California.  Besides his graphic work, Mr. Prado is an accomplished painter.

Lautaro Cline is a graphic designer and website producer.  Mr. Cline is in charge of web coding as well as collaborating with Mr. Prado in the designed of the web pages and other art forms. Presently studying in the Multimedia Arts Program at Berkeley City College

Quijerema is a performing arts quartet that celebrates and expands the cultures of the Americas through original music, poetry and multi-media art installations. Members of the ensemble play over thirty instruments, and have performed worldwide and appeared on regional, national and international radio and television. Quijeremá performs in theaters, festivals, museums, cultural centers and other venues. They also perform and conduct workshops for schools, libraries and other educationa institutions. In addition to performance, Quijeremá specializes in scoring music for film.