Arts & Entertainment

’50 Years’: Regional exhibit offers reflection on Uruguay’s recent past

By Daniela Calone

Montevideo, Jun 27 (EFE).- A line of eight mouths opened wide as if they were screaming, each with one of the letters of the word S-I-L-E-N-C-I-O (SILENCE) inside, is one of the works included in an art exhibit that marks the 50-year anniversary of the June 27, 1973, military coup in Uruguay.

That exhibition is part of series of events that are open to the public this month and aim to serve as a reflection on the recent past, and particularly the 12-year civic-military dictatorship that ruled that small South American country until March 1985.

“The coup is something we still haven’t recovered from,” a traumatic experience that has “marked successive generations,” Uruguayan artist Federico Arnaud told Efe.

He described his work is a “performative spectacle” and a “sort of personal and collective biography” that aims to shift the focus from the historical to the personal.

At last week’s inauguration of the exhibit at the SUBTE Exhibition Center in Montevideo, Arnaud presented his piece before an expectant audience and left behind a clipping from the daily La Mañana containing its story on the 1975 killing of his father, architect Pedro Arnaud.

“There’s a generation of children who didn’t have the chance to speak,” Arnaud said of that work.

More than a score of contemporary artists from Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Brazil – all countries ruled by right-wing dictatorships in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s – were invited to participate in the exhibition.

One of the works of art on display shows a group of people gathered in a circle. Their faces are blurred and their long shadows are in the shape of different objects, including a gun and a corkscrew.

Brazilian artist Regina Silveira said of her digital work – commissioned in 1992, the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas – that it examines the theme of power.

“The shadows reveal the true character of the gathering … Are they executives or are they politicians? It doesn’t matter, but they’re deciding things, and each one’s character is revealed by their own shadow,” she said.

The original purpose of the exhibit is to reflect on the coup and try to use memory as “a creative force for building the future,” one of its curators, Martin Craciun, told Efe.

Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar offers a reflection on the military coup in his homeland with a calendar for the year 1973. That work shows the typical layout of months and days up until Sept. 11, the date when Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s forces overthrew democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende’s government and installed a regime that ruled until 1990.

From that date forward, the calendar is frozen and the number 11 is repeated for the remainder of the year.

“I think the past is an active past and a constructive memory that must help us avoid the same mistakes and build a future with truth, memory and justice,” Craciun said.

Behind him, several screens show scenes of a blue sky.

He said that work by artist Gabriela Golder of Argentina, where a military regime held power from 1976-1983, is an invitation to “look forward, to think about the future.”

The exhibit, declared a project of interest by Uruguay’s Education and Culture Ministry, will be open to the public through Sept. 16. EFE


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