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Talkin’ About a Revolution . . .

There's an interesting article in the Village Voice about commemorations of tragic events and the nature of memory and representation — in the context of Latin American totalitarianism. The underlying question seems to be how we can/should use public spaces to … Read More

By / April 17, 2007

There's an interesting article in the Village Voice about commemorations of tragic events and the nature of memory and representation — in the context of Latin American totalitarianism. The underlying question seems to be how we can/should use public spaces to bear witness to the tragedies of the past.

A word of warning to the victims of violence, the survivors of torture and forced disappearances, and the friends and relatives of those who perished in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and elsewhere in Latin America—beware memorials. They often become places where a culture isolates and entombs memory, only to walk away from it.

 The piece also highlights various Latin American artists' efforts at memorialization.

Other artists focus on forgetting, memory's inevitable corollary. The Colombian Oscar Muñoz paints fleeting portraits of the dead on stone, using a paintbrush dipped in water; on videotape, we watch the pictures begin to dry and disappear just moments after he has made them. And Nicolás Guagnini, whose father, a crusading Argentine journalist, disappeared when he was 11, has created a visually unstable monument to his father's memory: a series of columns imprinted with a high-contrast photograph of his father's face, which comes into and out of focus as you move around it. "My father wanted to change the world but his way did not succeed," Guagnini has said. "Through art I could make a revolution every day." Let's hope that he and other artists, in societies emerging from years of fear, get that opportunity.

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