1230 Fifth Avenue @ 104th Street
February 23 - June 17, 2007
Written by Wendy R. Williams
photo: Art by Marcelo Brodsky Reflects the
Viewers at the Museum)
Parents are supposed
to die first. Losing a child without the closure
of knowing exactly what happened to them and not
having a body to bury must be an excruciating agony.
All over Latin America there are grandmothers who
still do not know what happened to their children
and grandchildren. Their children (some of them
pregnant women) were plucked from the streets by
the military dictatorships that ruled in Latin American
from the "late 1950's through the 1980's"
and then they simply disappeared.
Marcelo Brodsky Buena
Memoria (Good Memory), 1997 (detail)
We have all heard of the grandmothers
of the Playa de Mayo, the Argentine mothers
and grandmother who meet once a week to demonstrate
in Buenas Aires' Playa De Mayo, but people disappeared
all over Latin America: in Brazil; Chile; Colombia;
Guatemala; Uruguay; and Venezuela.
The North Dakota
Museum of Art has organized a traveling art exhibit
which is now at the Museum of the Barrio. Here is
a quote from their press release:
"El Muse del Barrio, New York’s premier
Latino and Latin American cultural institution,
will present The Disappeared (Los Desaparecidos)
from February 23 – June 17, 2007. This traveling
exhibition, organized by the North Dakota Museum
of Art and curated by Laurel Reuter, brings together
visual artists’ responses to the tens of thousands
of persons who were kidnapped, tortured, killed
and “vanished” in Latin America by repressive
right-wing military dictatorships during the late-1950s
to the 1980s.'
"The Disappeared (Los Desaparecidos) gathers
14 contemporary living artists from seven countries
in Central and South America (Argentina, Brazil,
Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Uruguay and Venezuela),
all of whose work contends with the horrors and
violence stemming from the totalitarian regimes
in each of their nations during the mid- to late-20th
century. Some of the artists worked in the resistance;
some had parents or siblings who were disappeared;
others were forced into exile. The youngest were
born into the aftermath of those dictatorships.
And still others have lived in countries maimed
by endless civil war. These artists whose work is
represented in the exhibition are Marcelo Brodsky,
Luis Camnitzer, Arturo Duclos, Juan Manuel Echavarría,
Antonio Frasconi, Nicolás Guagnini, Nelson
Leirner, Sara Maneiro, Cildo Meireles, Oscar Muñoz,
Ivan Navarro, Luis González Palma, Ana Tiscornia
and Fernando Traverso. Also included is a collaborative
installation Identity/Identidad by a collective
of 13 Argentinean artists."
Luis González Palma
Luis González Palma
The exhibit is incredibly moving.
The art work is beautiful and sad. But the most
devastating part of the exhibit are the photos and
paintings of the disappeared. These were beautiful
young people, many of them pregnant women. What
kind of monsters could have kidnapped and murdered
these Madonnas? There is also a photo of a river
where the disappeared were drugged and thrown from
a helicopter to drown.
There is one part
of the exhibit where there are photos of young couples
who were expecting a child when they were abducted.
According to the guide who was leading a group of
students from Brooklyn's El Puente Academy of Peace
and Justice, three children have identified themselves
by looking at their faces in the mirror next to
the photos of their parents.
by a Collective of 13 Argentinean Artists
Photos of the Disappeared with Mirrors In-between
for their Also Missing Children
This exhibit should be on everyone’s'
to-do list. The United States supported these dictators
and as a country we ourselves are showing "tendencies"
to just let people disappear with our prison in
Guantanamo Bay and our secret prisons in Eastern
Europe. You can argue that these prisons are not
the same, that we are not executing prisoners without
trails. But how do we know that? There is no oversight
from our courts if someone should die "accidentally."
Either we are a country that believes in the rule
of law, or we are not.
Del la serie Los Desparecidos
the Uruguayan Torture Series
Interveneion urbana en la Ciudad de Rosario Don
The students viewing the exhibit are from
Brooklyn's El Puente Academy of Peace and Justice