The disappeared have voices I
~Courtesy of the Museo del barrio
And, then you remember- there are desaparacidos now- only we don't call them that - and it is their governments which are cooperating with the banality of evil which is our government meant to render them as such. And, perhaps, you may wonder- what art will their children produce to commemorate their calvary?
“The Disappeared” (“Los Desaparecidos”) continues through June 17 at El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Avenue, at 104th Street, East Harlem; (212) 831-7272, elmuseo.org.
There may have been a more moving show of contemporary political art in the city this season than “The Disappeared” at El Museo del Barrio, but if so, I missed it. The title refers to a peculiarly chilling form of violence associated with political upheavals in Latin America over the last 40 years, one that is now becoming more common in Iraq.
A man leaves for work one morning, but doesn’t come home at the end of the day, or later that night, or the next day. A week passes. Relatives suspect that the missing man, who may or may not have had risky political ties, has been arrested or kidnapped. But they don’t know by whom, or where he’s been taken, or if he’s alive or dead.
He’s one of the disappeared, “los desaparecidos,” the victim of terrorism through stealth removal. A death permits mourning, assignment of blame, a possibility of closure. Disappearance generates uncertainty, paralyzes action, leaves an open wound. If I say nothing, a survivor thinks, maybe my husband, or child, or mother, or wife will be spared, even returned. If I inquire or accuse, I may seal their fate. As often as not, fear wins out.
The 15 artists in the show are all from Latin American countries that experienced totalitarian regimes in the late 20th century, when almost every family had friends who disappeared or were themselves forced into hiding or exile. Directly or indirectly, their art is about these experiences.
(Review by Holland CotterNYT)
If you do nothing else in New York, go see this show.