The Burst of Things
El Estallido de las Cosas
On Friday, October 18, 2019, Chile exploded. Like a pressure cooker, like a bomb, it exploded. A social revolution began that day. Thousands of people took to the streets with pots, placards, stones and hoods to protest against social inequality. Others put on yellow vests to protect their properties. The government used police, with their tear bombs, pellets, and water cannons to suppress the protests. Days earlier, high school students jumped the Metro turnstiles and made it possible for citizens to access the metro without paying. This was the flame that ignited a social revolution.
As a result of the social unrest, on 25 October 2020 Chileans voted by a large majority in a referendum to abolish its Constitution and to elect a new Constitutional Assembly, whose 155 members will be elected in mid May 2021. These people will have nine months to design a new constitution (with a possible 3 month extension) which will be presented to another referendum in 2022, where citizens will choose either the old or new versions.
During 2020, in the middle of the Covid 19 global pandemic we created Border Podcast, an independent podcast and multimedia platform, where we launched its first series The Burst of Things. It is a six-part podcast available in both Spanish and English which tells the history of Chile’s social movements from the perspective of the objects that shaped them: the saucepans that were banged in the streets, the yellow vests worn by protesters, the turnstile that was vaulted over by students refusing to pay fares, the face masks worn on marches, a unique interview with a retired Police Weapons Rehabilitation Center. The final episode, which was published in the very same week as the referendum in October 2020, was Constitutional Therapy. In it, the Chilean Constitution itself explains how it is ready to go to therapy and heal its past, from its birth in the middle of Pinochet’s dictatorship, to its role in embedding the capitalist model in the lives of Chilean citizens.
Podcast, Documentary – Fiction Audio Series / 88 min. / 2020 / Chile
- The Innocent Pot: A pot is on trial and in her defense, she relates how she went from being a Teflon pot to becoming the sound of the explosion of social unrest.
- The Last Turnstile: After the price hike in the metro fare, a Baquedano station turnstile is the protagonist at the start of the mass payment evasion that led to the inicial social outbreak.
- Cora The Yellow: A reflective vest is leaving testimony of the crime committed by its owner during a citizen demonstration before the police come to arrest them.
- Hooded, A Faceless Future: We imagine a utopian future, the hoods are the new faces of our society, corrupt leaders have resigned and a female choral voice guides us towards a new possible future.
- Villa Impunity: A journalist is allowed access to a retirement home where weapons used during the social outbreak are found. We can hear from their mouths their deepest beliefs and the privilege of impunity in which they live.
- Constitutional Therapy: We hear the story of a traumatized Constitution who goes to counseling with hopes of understanding her past. Through a series of regressions, she’ll uncover the origin of her trauma: an authoritarian and exclusive past. She must face her ghosts and her fears to be able to start a new life from blank pages.
- Maria Court: Chilean documentary filmmaker, producer and academic with experience in the intersection of documentary and new media. Co-producer and Co-Director of the award-winning interactive and transmedia documentary Quipu Project and the short film Quipu, Llamadas por Justicia (2017).
- Trinidad Piriz: Chilean artist that since 2007 creates shows which she writes, directs and performs with other artists. Piriz has created sonic performances using autobiographical material: HOME, HELEN BROWN, TEATRO NACIONAL, FIN, CORO. She works on the borders of theater and music mixing everyday sounds, the most intimate thoughts and exacerbated fiction.
When the social unrest happened in October 2019, and we went out to the streets of Santiago, and for those like us who live in “Zone Zero”, we saw how all of the architecture and the landscapes started to change. And one of the things that we did was particularly, to make a registry of what was happening that we couldn’t even believe. So we started to write, to document, not just to create the series but to document about what was happening.
And we keep asking ourselves, where will this unrest take us? Where are we going with all of this?. From the position of a documentary filmmaker, who wanted to be on the frontlines recording but also feeling the overwhelming amounts of images, and with both of us having little daughters, we couldn’t really be there shooting or documenting all the time.
So with all the disorder in the streets, we started to realize that we couldn’t really go out that much, the militars were all out , the traffic lights were down, tear gas bombs were being thrown inside buildings, the metro stopped working, streets were trashed, every Friday there were protests. We started to look at the city and see the relics that the movement started to leave behind. It all started with a traffic light dumped on the street that was kind of looking to us with sad eyes but it was still working, and we were like what it is trying to tell us?. And from there we started to think how we could reflect on this but not from a human perspective, but from the world’s perspective that’s watching us. The world of the objects that look at us, which was so symbolic.
Sound during this time was very crucial, the city sounded different . It sounded hopeful, uncertain, fearful. Sounds of curfew, the military, helicopters, but at the same time, the sound of empowered citizens, sounds of teflon pots that we call “cacerolazos”. Yelling after every presidential speech from every apartment window saying the people united will never be defeated. The sound had so much relevance and we thought it was a format to explore during the time that this story was unfolding and we were witnessing and asking ourselves what it meant to understand a story from the perspective of sound.
For our team, it was a real challenge to create this series in pandemic. It has been really about reflecting about this unrest. The unrest I experienced and the experience of our society as a whole. The one we all have inside and the collective one. That’s what the pandemic did to us, the social unrest was explosive outside, but the pandemic is an internal explosion.
Every episode was written, rehearsed, recorded, created during the pandemic. We’ve had to dive to a deeper depth of reflection with The Burst of Things as a series.
All of the rehearsals were done on Zoom, and when we needed to record we had to get a permit. Everyone recorded their parts socially distanced, following the covid protocol and then left to keep working online with the material along with the sound designers.
This podcast format was ideal to this pandemic times, we didn’t have to push back production. Around May 2020 we did the experiment of home-recording, which wasn’t technically the best but it was the opportunity we had. The sound allowed us to record in a new way and keep creating. It’s been an amazing experience, a big challenge but we believe that we achieved a really interesting creative process working with a multidisciplinary team of actors, designers, filmmakers and sound designers.
Where to listen to this podcast:
- Web: https://borderpodcast.com/theburstofthings
- Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/74PHMXmOKZ3x1qqrh8T443?si=g0D8GNk7TSyuGfpiWreS0Q&dl_branch=1