In the time when fear dominated people’s behavior in the streets of Argentina, every appointment one kept could become a trip with no return. Personal calendars, books, memories, all these things contained addresses, ideas and clues that could lead to another target. They didn’t only haul people off to destroy them, crush them and squeeze their memory dry looking for new victims. Sure of their absolute power, the Argentine military didn’t think it even minimally possible that civil society would respond. That was why every kidnapping was also a looting. From the victim’s hose they took everything of any value. As the owners of the kidnapped person’s life, they were also the owners of all his belongings. Refrigerators, television sets, record players, photographs, letters from girlfriends, small personal objects, documents, clothes memories…

What happened to these objects after they passed through the storeroom?. They disappeared, like their true owners did. They ended up in houses where maybe no one knew about their real origin; they were used until they couldn’t be used anymore; they had a substitute life; they were adopted; they became perhaps a present for the torturer’s wife…

In September of 1999, I put up an artistic reconstruction of the Navy School of Mechanics’ “Storeroom” in Buenos Aires Recoleta Cultural Center as part of their Show and Colloquium “Disappearance, Art and Politics”. It was impossible to make the reconstruction with the original objects. I used other similar items from the same period as those that had been appropriated by the repressors. There is not much difference between this Storeroom and the one found at the Navy School of Mechanics (The “Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada, or the “ESMA”). The same objects, he same disinfectant smell, the same sound of chains being dragged across the ground and of helicopters taking off. The reconstruction, based on the testimony of survivors, reproduces that repository of objects – each one of negligible monetary value – which had become “available” after the murder of their owners.
In the year 2000 the History Channel of Canada decided to make a documentary on the darkest period of Argentine history for their series “Turning Points in History”. The program was titled “Argentina’s Dirty War”. The program’s producers were unable to find any resources on film from that period about what went on inside the ESMA. When they heard about my piece, they asked me for the filmed and photographic material I had, and they incorporated it into their documentary as a way of illustrating, with images, what it was like in the depot of stolen objects at the military dictatorship’s largest concentration camp. A reconstruction created for artistic purposes, to salvage the memory of the past and to prompt reflection, thus became part of a historical documentary… Art and documentary, memory and history, recreation, creation and transmission manifest their ambiguity in the Canadian television program.