This entry in Errata Editions’ Books on Books series reproduces every spread from Wessing’s gritty documentation of Chile’s darkest historical moment; art historian and film theorist Pauline Terreehorst contributes a contemporary essay titled “The Man in the Grey Suit: Koen Wessing: Chili 1973.”
“What is the story Wessing wanted to get across the thick layer of indifference of an already image-savvy audience?
Firstly he wanted them to look. The second reason for not adding texts to rescue the indifferent reader was to force them to combine the photographs himself, to grasp the meaning of the images he was confronted with. Wessing wanted a photo essay, with only images – as if he was a mime-player again, which he used to be for a short period of time at the beginning of his career. The expression of the images had to speak without words. It is in many ways symbolic then that the book starts with a close up of a scarred magazine, almost disappearing in the flames on top of a heap of already burnt books.
On the cover of the magazine we see a drawing of Allende, by then already assassinated by the military regime. On the next page we see the whole picture: laughing soldiers who throw papers and books on the pile. Burning books is a horrible sign of repression. Regimes who hunt for ideas, for intellectuals, belong to the most severe, the most uncompromising, because they show not to be interested in reasonable thoughts. They want to act without thinking.” Pauline Terreehorst