A Panel’s Tale: The Soviet KPD System and the Politics of Assemblage

The click of the camera shutter captured the moment. On Wednesday 22 November 1972 president Salvador Allende is shown surrounded by hundreds of Chilean workers and Soviet dignitaries in a new factory in the small industrial town of El Belloto, Quilpué, northwest of Santiago. Standing at the centre of the photograph Allende bends down to inscribe his signature into the wet cement of a panel – one of the first produced by the factory’s assembly line. For posterity, alongside his name he also writes an appreciative greeting to ‘Soviet and Chilean comrades’, thanking his countrymen who will man the plant and the country who donated the entire facility. Against this backdrop, of a small town on the edge of country itself seemingly on the far edge of the world, Allende’s inscription transformed a standardized industrial component into a unique monument, a signal of his express hope and mission of carrying out the economic and social transformation of Chile towards an ‘integral, scientific and Marxist socialism’.