Alvaro Hoppe (1956) is a Chilean photographer whose work is regarded as highly influential in the development of urban street photography and the documentary genre in Chile during the 1980’s. Trained as an actor, Hoppe had no formal training as a photographer. He started taking photographs of his neighbourhood Bellavista, in Santiago, and little by little his camera got him closer to the streets. Originally, he did not seek to document conflicts but sought to express his point of view about the political events that were unfolding in Chile with the advent of the military coup in 1973.
Hoppe started to work as a reporter for the opposition weekly Apsi and he soon became a fierce chronicler of the abuses perpetrated by the regime. Censorship and the risk anyone took to denounced human rights violations were part of daily life. A fearless photojournalist, and risking his own life, Hoppe captured some of the most representative images of Chile of that period when he would document the strikes, demonstrations and protests against the Pinochet regime. Under the dictatorship certain words, images and ways of thinking were forbidden such as, 'detained-disappeared', 'freedom', 'justice'. As a photographer Hoppe wanted to say something with his camera, and to reflect this censorship he imbued his images with a highly symbolic meaning. One of Hoppe's most recognized images is one he took of a military walking in the street menacingly brandishing a police baton in front of him. Hoppe framed him through the bullet hole of a broken a window on the bus he was travelling in. It is a meaningful image that carries several readings and through which Hoppe expressed pain, anger, fear, danger and violence.
Hoppe was an active member of the seminal Association of Independent Photographers (AFI). From 1981 to 1990, the AFI's objective was to spread the work of free-lance photographers who worked independently, had no institutional backing and who were unprotected against the repression of the military dictatorship. The AFI managed to gather a significant group of photographers, whose images came to portray urban life in the dictatorship years and denounced the abuses of the government. Amongst his most recognized members were Luis Navarro, Paz Errázuriz, Leonora Vicuña, Álvaro Hoppe, Alejandro Hoppe, Claudio Pérez, Óscar Navarro, Héctor López , Luis Weinstein, Cristián and Marcelo Montecino, Luis Poirot, and Óscar Wittke. The photographs of these authors were disseminated through international media, local exhibitions and, later, the national press. At the end of the eighties this organization came to gather more than 300 members. With the return to democracy in 1990 the AFI ceased to exist.
In 2003 Hoppe published El Ojo en la Historia, edited by Gonzalo Leiva and Alvaro Hoppe, with the support of Fondart."
Exhibited internationally, Hoppe's work has been included in important shows: Faces Cachées, Chilean contemporary photography at the Maison de l'Amérique Latine, Paris, France (2016); Chile Vive (Spain, 1987); Fotografía Chilena Contemporánea (Ecuador, 1989); Museo Abierto (MNBA, 1990); Chile from within (EE.UU, 1990); El Artificio del Lente (MAC, 2000); STGO-ZGZ: Fotografía de Transición (España, 2002).
Hoppe's works is included in important public and private collections with a strong focus on Latin American Art: Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid Spain; collection of Anna Gamazo d'Abelló, Madrid, Spain; the Leticia and Stanislas Poniatowsky collection, Geneva, Switzerland, amongst others.