SILUETAZO, BODY TRACING
The “Siluetazo”(“Body Tracing”) was one of the most powerful artistic events in Argentina in the 20th century. Where are the disappeared? What did they do with them?
That unanswered question flooded the streets in the cities of this country when the dictatorship fell and democracy was gradually reinstated.
The silhouettes were stamped on walls, blinds and signposts, demanding truth and justice. Little by little they faded away from the city streets, but they stamped their plea on our collective memory. Artistic interpretation of those political events was incorporated into the popular movements calling for the dictatorship’s assassins to be brought to trial and justly punished; art became in fact a powerful instrument for the struggle at street level.
The “Siluetazo” (“Body-Tracing”) became part of the struggle for full protection of Human Rights at the same time as it entered into the history of Argentine art. This photographic register of that new vocabulary, is for that very reason the opening image of this book.
Erice is a small town in Sicily, set in a hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean. This village had its periods of glory, and its inhabitants vouch that the Pope resided there in times long past. Its streets maintain a sober austerity, with a profusion of churches, chapels and cathedrals. The town itself, well-conserved, still holds the vestiges of time’s passing.
The tap remained on the wall, doing duty as a public fountain. Imprisoned in a small square, in the middle of steep streets, it bore an inscribed symbol. That Italian inscription of the hammer and scythe, in its slow process of decay, with its progressive evanescence, showed in a most palpable way the final destiny of many of the ideas that originated it.
Back in Buenos Aires, I thought long and hard about that image which attracted me inexplicably. I decided to act on it, emphasizing its relationship with the passage of time. I added another tap, similar to the original one, from which water would pour without stopping. A miniscule portion of the symbol comes off with the flowing water, dissolves and changes in an unknown way.
The walls of the cathedral in Erice are covered in Carrara marble. Ordered by century and engraved in golden letters in the stone, the fundamental events that marked the life of that town and its inhabitants are narrated with the conciseness of a single word: rain, plague, invasion, earthquake, war.
That Sicilian stone also prompted a reinterpretation. I inscribed the principal events that I had lived in the previous century into Carrara marble as well, tying episodes of collective history in with those of my personal history.
1905 My grandfather arrives in this country
1914 My grandmother arrives in this country
1919 The “Tragic Week”
1930 Military coup d’etat
1954 I am born
1955 Military coup d’etat
1966 Military coup d’etat
1967 “Che” Guevara is killed
1968 Power to imagination
1976 Coup and State terrorism
1976 My best friend is “disappeared”
1977 An attempt is made to kidnap me
1979 My brother is kidnapped
1980 My brother is “disappeared”
1984 I return to this country
1985 The military “juntas” are put on trial
1986 The “Full Stop” Law
1987 The “Carapintada” (“Painted Faces”) Uprising
1987 The Law of “Due Obedience”
1988 The “Carapintada” (“Painted Faces”) Uprising
1990 The General Pardon
1992 My son is born
1994 The AMIA (Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association) is bombed
1995 Confession: We threw them into the river.
1995 My daughter is born
1996 Twenty years of memory
2001 The “Disappearances” still have impunity