The Memory Is All
Photos of Peruvian war’s devastation at the EMU
BY SUZI STEFFEN
|Celestino Ccente, 1983. OSCAR MEDRANO
The guerrilla war that devastated Peru between 1980 and 2000 didn’t only cause almost 70,000 deaths. The toll included the burning of villages and destruction of fields, the loss of limbs and eyes — and the devastation of hope.
Now, Eugeneans can witness, through beautifully mounted art, the war’s human cost.
“Yuyunapaq: To Remember,” an exhibit of war photographs, opens at the UO’s Adell McMillan Gallery in the Erb Memorial Union on Thursday, Jan. 17. The exhibit runs in conjunction with “Human Rights and Memory in Latin America,” a Jan. 31-Feb. 2 conference sponsored by the Wayne Morse Center and the Latin American Studies program.
Yuyunapaq means “to remember” in Quechua, the language spoken by the Peruvian native peoples who suffered the most during the conflict between brutal Maoist rebels and equally brutal right-wing government forces.
The photos come from an exhibit that has been up since 2003 in Peru, when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR) released its report on the violence. The 40 photos coming to the UO, which have traveled to Mexico, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and other places in the U.S., make up only a small portion of the exhibit in Peru. But Latin American Studies and history professor Carlos Aguirre says they’re strong tools for learning and for memory.
“Photographs are very powerful — not neutral, not objective — representations of reality,” he says. These show the acts of violence and some of those who committed the violence; injured people; ruined buildings and relatives of victims demanding justice, Aguirre says. “It’s a collection of how the war affected people in different circumstances.”
Though the photos focus the violence and the suffering, Aguirre believes they demonstrate more than that: “They show the solidarity of ordinary people.” —Suzi Steffen
An opening reception for “Yuyunapaq: To Remember” is at 3:30 pm Thursday, Jan. 17, in the Adell McMillan Gallery of the EMU on the UO campus. Guided tours are available; contact Carlos Aguirre at email@example.com for more information. Information on the conference is available online (las.uoregon.edu/events/conference.htm).