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‘Botero Abu Ghraib’ Exhibit at the Museo de la Memoria

‘Botero Abu Ghraib’ Exhibit at the Museo de la Memoria
April 30
14:00 2012

Step outside the bubbles that lather up into Santiago Centro, take a sharp turn into Quinta Normal, and you will be faced with the impressive, slick and ultra-modern facade of the city’s Museo de la Memoria.

SANTIAGO — Museo de la Memoria is by far the most engrossing and beautiful cultural space I have come across in Santiago, crammed full of documents, photographs, videos, sound clips…all lovingly put together and meticulously organized into one fascinating exhibit after another.

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There is simply too much in this museum to distil into one review, however, as well as the excellent permanent exhibitions, it is currently hosting a collection of oil paintings, watercolors and sketches by Colombian artist Fernando Botero (entitled ‘Botero Abu Ghraib’).  The works were first shown to the public in 2005 and are currently on loan from the University of California, Berkeley.

The collection is inspired by photographs and written testimonies of torture inflicted by U.S. soldiers on prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. It’s made up of 37 of Botero’s original 80 pieces, all displaying stark, shocking images of these afflictions: prisoners being mauled by guard dogs, tied up, and subjected to waterboarding and humiliation.

The subject matter works in powerful combination with Botero’s imposing style, use of vibrant colors and larger-than-life figures.  In the simplest of ways the artist forces our eyes open and demands our acknowledgement. They are works which are of value from an artistic point of view and in their grand upholding of man’s essential human rights.

Another of the many interesting exhibits in the Museo de la Memoria is entitled ‘Interfaz’. It is an extensive display of official documents, newspaper cuttings, testimonies of torture and records of ‘disappearances’, as well as personal letters between prisoners and their loves ones; all of which set about recording the dark legacy of September 11, 1973. The most haunting  section is one entitled ‘El dolor de los niños’, testifying the way in which children’s worlds were turned upside down through loss of family members, or how they too tragically became victims of these ‘disappearances’.

The Museo de la Memoria is haunting, gripping and utterly absorbing, so take an hour out of your schedule to step out of the bubble and lose yourself in this wonderful space.

Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Free entry

‘Interfaz’ exhibition ends on June 10.

‘Botero Abu Ghraib’ exhibition on June 29. 

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Sophie Bauer

Sophie is a student from the UK on her year abroad here in Chile and has been living in Santiago since September 2011. She works as an English language assistant and is a volunteer with the English Opens Doors Program and Amnesty International.

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