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In 1988, in response to international pressure Pinochet’s government sought to ratify its legitimacy with a plebiscite. Confident that the success of a YES vote at the urns, would justify the permanence of the dictator in the government by popular demand. However, a union of opposition parties wanted to make their arguments en contra heard. To take advantage of their due fifteen minutes of television space they sought the help of a young publicist. Television is the arena where the two languages fought to prove to what extent each could appeal to the desires of the Chileans at the end of the 20th century.
‘NO’ is a Chilean film, directed in 2012 by Pablo Larraín. Based on the play ’El Plebiscito’ it was a candidate for the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language film in 2013. But the tape is not just a reflection on the caducity of a regime and its rhetoric. In this case to explain recent national history is also a question of talking about the renovation of languages of representation and their scenarios. At the end of the eighties, in the global context of a schizophrenic coexistence of codes, in Chile, modern military totalitarianism dies and the regime of the rhetoric of the mass media is consolidated. In 1983, the “Colectivo de arte de acciones” carries out its own NO+ campaign. To mark the tenth anniversary of the dictatorship, this group of conceptual artists plastered Santiago with posters saying no, they weren’t celebrating. They didn’t agree with the violence exercised by the regime; they didn’t want to deactivate the street as a scenario for democratic debate.
In Chile, the administration of a narrative about the memory of the violence has been tied to the institutions vindicating the value of the conceptual practices of the seventies and the eighties. What implications does this association have? The film NO (2012) participates in this phenomenon, and is an impeccable reminder of how the negotiation between regimes of representation is always political.
"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world" (John Le Carré)