Pedro Lemebel, 1952–2015

Chilean writer, novelist, performance artist and queer activist has died

Pedro Lemebel in his performance Alacraner, 1992. Photo: lamajabarata.blogspot.mx

Chilean writer, novelist and performance artist Pedro Lemebel died 23 January of laryngeal cancer, reports The New Yorker. Lemebel was known for his activism against authoritarianism and in support to the margins of Chilean society, especially the queer community, people with AIDS and sex workers, and which translated into his literary and artistic practice. In 1987, he founded with poet and visual artist Francisco Casas Silva Las Yeguas del Apocalipsis (‘the Mares of the Apocalypse’), a countercultural collective whose performances often meant to disrupt cultural and political events (for Cuerpos Contingentes in 1990, the duo crashed an exhibition opening, their naked bodies tied to wheelchairs with barbed wire and covered with dissected birds, as incarnations of the HIV virus).  

With novels like My Tender Matador (2001), telling the story of a relationship between an ageing gay man and a young revolutionary on the backdrop of the Pinochet regime, Lemebel has established himself as a key figure of queer literature in South America and internationally, criticising with provocation and humour the political right wing and Chilean bourgeoisie. Lemebel was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1999, and received the Chilean José Donoso Prize in 2013; lectures on his work were also held at various universities, including Harvard and Stanford.

2 February 2015