The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (MUSAC), the Centro de Cultura Contemporánea de Barcelona (CCCB) and La Casa Encendida of Obra Social Caja Madrid are pleased to present the exhibition Desaparecidos
, curated by photojournalist Sandra Balsells. The show features a selection of press photographer Gervasio Sánchez's work on forced disappearances that occurred in countries such as Chile, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iraq, Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Spain between 1998 and 2010.
The show will open at the MUSAC on 25 January and continue until 5 June; it can also be viewed at the CCCB from 1 February to 1 May, and at La Casa Encendida from 2 February to 20 March 2011.
stands out as a forceful, compelling document against oblivion that aims to recover the buried memory of people who disappeared during various armed conflicts and repressive regimes. The presentation of this exhibition is an ambitious cultural initiative that, for the first time on the Spanish art scene, entails the simultaneous display in three cities-León, Barcelona and Madrid-of a major photography project on the same theme and by the same artist, though each venue has its own version and contents.
A completely different selection of photographs will be displayed at each one of these venues, in what can only be described as a truly novel approach to exhibition. Nevertheless, each of the three shows has the same narrative structure and thematic blocs, and all three conclude with a significant epilogue dedicated to Spain which addresses the ongoing process of locating and exhuming the remains of people who disappeared during the Spanish Civil War and Franco's dictatorship. The two videos will be on view at all three centres.
The exhibition Desaparecidos
, curated by Sandra Balsells, photojournalist and lecturer at Ramon Llull University, is divided into the following thematic blocs:
- • Facilities used to torture and "disappear" victims, such as prisons, detention centres, barracks and "chupaderos" (clandestine holding facilities)
• Memorials erected in remembrance of missing persons
• Portraits of the relatives of forced disappearance victims
• Personal items belonging to missing persons
• The process of searching for missing persons
• The process of exhuming remains found in mass graves
• Storage facilities used to hold the exhumed remains
• The efforts of forensic anthropologists to identify the exhumed remains
• Returning the identified remains to family members
• The burial process
• Epilogue: Missing persons in Spain
Gervasio Sánchez's first became involved in the dramatic phenomenon of forced disappearances in Guatemala in 1984, when he embarked on a career as a freelance journalist specialising in armed conflicts. Since that time, Gervasio Sánchez has covered numerous armed conflicts and undertaken various long-term projects focusing on the victims. The theme of forced disappearance has been a constant in the photographer's work throughout his 25-year career, often leading him to venture deep into the heart of various countries affected by this problem. Desaparecidos is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of Gervasio Sánchez's work organised to date.
The exhibition Desaparecidos is accompanied by a pack containing two books and a DVD and published by Blume. The book Desaparecidos features a selection of the photographs on display at the three centres which document different aspects of forced disappearances, while the second publication, Víctimas del olvido [Victims of Oblivion], contains over 300 portraits of relatives of missing persons from various nations around the world. The videos that can be seen at all three venues are included on the DVD that comes with this pack.
Gervasio Sánchez (Córdoba, 1959) began his career as a freelance photojournalist specialising in armed conflicts in 1984. A regular contributor to Heraldo de Aragón and La Vanguardia (Spanish newspapers) and the Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, Sánchez has spent over 25 years covering a number of armed conflicts, particularly in Latin America, Africa and the Balkans. He has authored several photography books, including El Cerco de Sarajevo
(1995) and those published by Blume: Vidas Minadas
(1997 and 2002); Kosovo, Crónica de la deportación
(1999); Niños de la guerra
(2000); La caravana de la muerte. Las víctimas de Pinochet
(2002); Latidos del tiempo
(2004), with the sculptor Ricardo Calero; Sierra Leona, guerra y paz
(2005); Vidas Minadas, Diez años
(2007); and Sarajevo, 1992-2008
(2009). In 2001 he co-edited the book Los ojos de guerra
, a tribute to Miguel Gil, with Manuel Leguineche, and in 2004 he released a literary work entitled Salvar a los niños soldados. He has been a UNESCO Artist for Peace since 1998 and director of the Albarracín Photography and Journalism Seminar since 2001. The authorities of the region of Aragón awarded him the Gold Medal of Saint Elizabeth of Portugal and the Medal of Professional Merit, in addition to making him an honorary citizen of Zaragoza. Sánchez has won numerous distinctions, including the Cirilo Rodríguez Award, the International Press Club Award, the Andalucía de Cultura Award, the Human Rights Journalism Award, the Liber Press Award, the Javier Bueno Award, the Ortega y Gasset Journalism Award and the 2009 National Photography Prize.