Critics’ Picks

Sara Maneiro, Berenice's Grimace (detail), twelve C-prints, 16 x 20" each.

New York

“The Disappeared (Los Desaparecidos)”

El Museo del Barrio
1230 Fifth Avenue
June 20–June 17

Organized by the North Dakota Museum of Art and touring throughout North and South America, “The Disappeared (Los Desaparecidos)” symbolically commemorates the victims of Latin American dictatorships without sacrificing political resonance. An overt reminder of human loss, Arturo Duclos’s Untitled, 1995, arranges seventy-five human femurs, donated from medical centers, into the shape of the Chilean flag. Similarly visceral are Sara Maneiro’s twelve C-prints of dental records from bodies recovered from Venezuelan mass graves. In a subtler, more literary approach to violence, Luis Camnitzer examines the humanity of both torturers and their victims by photographing objects they might have used and placing them alongside evocative texts. In an attempt to actualize the scale of lives lost, Fernando Trasverso spray-painted 350 life-size images of a bicycle on city walls and gates in Rosario, Argentina, to mark each of the disappeared from that province. Similarly documenting and symbolizing disappearance, Identity/Identidad, 1998, organized by the Association of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina along with thirteen prominent Argentinean artists, creates a winding labyrinth of photos of disappeared couples alternating with mirrors. Not only does the installation prompt the visitor to imagine him or herself as the child of a disappeared couple who was raised by a military family, but it has caused several such children to recognize themselves and come forward. Identity/Identidad, like so many pieces in the exhibition, demonstrates art’s potential to help reconcile the past and the present, the personal and the political.