Remembrance of tortures past

This week brings the opening of a series of programs focusing on the tortured and disappeared in Latin America and Mexico. An exhibition which has travelled internationally including stops in Uruguay and Argentina opens at UTEP Rubin Center and the Centennial Museum, also on the UTEP campus this Thursday June 18. Called Los Desaparecidos (The Disappeared), it features works from Latin American artists who have been directly affected by the torture and disappearance which affected thousands in their respective countries during the dictatorships of the 70’s. It is an amazing exhibit. There is a Chilean flag made of human bones by Arturo Duclos; a photo of a grade school classroom with indications of who went on to become disappeared, or went into exile . Fernando Traverso shows his bicycle banners. He already lectured a few weeks ago here about his project of  leaving images of bicycles everywhere as a reminder of the many who may have ridden their bicycles to work or school and who were taken away never to be heard of again. A remarkably powerful and simple method which makes of what is normally considered a good and healthy symbol ( the bicycle) something extremely ominous through this association. Apparently in Argentina the graffiti image lasted longest at a police torture center. Also at recent protests in Juarez over the murder of a UACJ faculty member, some people invoked the use of this bicycle symbol. The show comes from the North Dakota Museum of Art and was curated by Laurel Reuter.  
      Apparently she began thinking about this show in the 90’s, but it seems particularly interesting to see it today. On the one hand of course these dictatorships were  overturned a long time ago. A Chilean artist recently complained that one of the problems with making art in Chile is that the world is dominated by those who insist that the horrible years of Pinochet must still command attention, so that it is hard for other themes  to get attention. On the other hand, I have always wondered why nobody has resurrected the memory of Jacopo Timmerman, an Argentine captured and tortured by the Argentine military, whose book  A Prisoner without a name, Cell without a number, recounting that time became the basis for a film shown on television in the US. I thought about his detailing how he was told nobody would ever know of his existence or his capture because his name would never be released and no one could find him  when I heard about something which sounded remarkably similar occuring at a military base on an island best known for its cigars.
It might be instructive to remember that the Argentine dictatorship fell apart in large part because of its entry into an unfortunate military venture in the you call it Maldives, I call it Falklands island. Hmmm.
Definitely related to the subject, on Saturday June 20, Ilan Lieberman speaks at the opening of his show called Ninos Perdido (lost children) at the El Paso Museum of Art at 2 pm. Originally opened in his home town of Mexico City last month , he is accompanying  it here. There are some 45,000 children missing every year in Mexico, and Lieberman reproduces their picture from the newspaper Metro by means of a microscope and mechanical pencil. This is opening in the small De Wetter gallery.
      In addition to these shows,  there will be films and lectures throughout the summer, some at EPMA, some at the Film Salon at Trinity Church, and some at Union Cinema at UTEP.

There is a flyer listing the events which can be found at  the Rubin Center among other locations.    David Sokolec


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