LA DEMOCRACIA DEL GAS LACRIMÓGENO
ORGY PUNK / GRUPO D3 CHOK3
LA DEMOCRACIA DEL GAS LACRIMóGENO
We live in a society in which all citizens who are not in agreement with the government will have to know its repression; for example, the students who ask for free school in Chile, the Mexican mothers who look for their 43 missing children, Indigenous citizens who defend their own lands, and young Asian, Arab, and South Americans seeking to overthrow dictator presidents. The regime’s preferred weapon is tear gas, a chemical that is, ironically, permitted globally for crowd control, but banned for combat in wars since the 1993 Geneva Convention. Acute exposure to it causes irritation of the respiratory tract, skin, mouth, and eyes. When inhaled, it causes coughing, choking sensation, and tightness in the chest. In the eyes, it generates tears and causes partial blindness. To resist its effects, one has to avoid being soaked by police trucks that propel water to fix the chemical to the skin, which reactives the ardor.
During the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics Encuentro, we talked about the prohibition of the right to protest, in a touristic and neoliberal city such as Santiago de Chile. GRUPO D3 CHOK3 traveled from Mexico to show a performance art work that would talk about the possibility of preparing for a police repression with CS gas.
We talked with journalists, activists, and students of the city. That same week, the University of Santiago was taken by its students who were protesting against the high cost of studying: in Chile the entire education system is private. The students and activists informed us that during daily confrontations with the police, tear gas was a common occurrence.
The aim of the performance was to immunize the activists/artists from the fear of CS gas. In our performances we exposed the public in a playful way to its effects. The result was that many recognized that if they were to remain calm and take preventative measures to avoid tear gas exposure, they could move away from a place of panic to the planning of actions with activists.