The Politics of Representation:
Art and Human Rights in Latin America
Honestly, when I went to Dr. Giunta’s talk I was unsure as to what to expect. I was not sure how Dr. Giunta would use her knowledge of Latin American Art to talk about politics, although I did know that there are many topics that combine art and politics. However, my confusion was immediately thrown out the window when Dr. Giunta began her talk and focused in on her topic: Abduction and Disappearance. I was really interested in how Dr. Giunta described abduction photos in Latin American newspapers as “ghost-like.” This was simply a description that I had never really thought of before and it was interesting to see how right Dr. Giunta was; the images had a haunted look to them, even though the photos were taken before any of their subjects had vanished.
On of the works that Dr. Giunta showed and described during her talk, and the work that I found to be the most moving, was the work by Gustavo Germano Ausenc’as. Ausenc’as work consisted of a pair of images right next to each other, one is the original image (with the missing person in the image) and the other is a new version of the photo, with all people in the same position, which emphasizes the missing individual. I thought that this work was extremely complex because it not only deals with the issue of abduction and disappearance, but the photo pairs also evoke all of the emotions and details of the other people and the place where the photograph was taken. I found these photograph combinations to be the easiest to connect to because, even if I knew nothing about the people in the images, I could try and put myself in their shoes and feel the sense of loss that permeates the new image of the pair.
Some of the other works that Dr. Giunta discussed that I found very interesting were works by Luis Camnitzer and the Buenos Aires Memorial. The work by Camnitzer was interesting because it represented the people who have disappeared by showing them as blank lines in a phone book, giving no contact information for those who have disappeared amongst the regular list of phone numbers and addresses. The Buenos Aires Memorial was also very interesting because Dr. Giunta described it as a “visual record”; a continuously updated memorial, that as new people are listed as having been abducted, their names are added to the list on the memorial. All of these works helped me to understand the connection that Dr. Giunta was making about art and human rights: that even though these people have disappeared, they have in no way been forgotten.