Reconstruction of the Portrait of Pablo Míguez

In 1999, the government of Buenos Aires held an international sculpture competition to commemorate the civilians kidnapped and disappeared during the last military dictatorship in Argentina. The winning projects form part of the sculpture park at Parque de la Memoria, a memorial situated by the river in which many of the bodies tortured by the dictatorship ended their days, dumped into the water from what they used to call “death flights”.

Reconstruction of the portrait of Pablo Míguez is one of eight proposals selected to be made.

According to the perverse semantics of the Argentine dictatorship of the ’70’s, the “disappeared” was neither alive nor dead, but his/her existence had ceased. Next to the kidnapping of people, they used to take pictures, documents, evidence of any kind that could prove the kidnapped person’s existence.

My proposal for Parque de la Memoria was based then in an attempt to reconstruct one of the multiple possible portraits of Pablo Míguez, one of approximately 500 children kidnapped with his/her parents during the military dictatorship.

This attempt at reconstructing an image became an exercise in collective memory building, in which Pablo’s relatives, friends and 13-year-old children took part. In exercising the right to memory, we tried all together to dismantle said perverse semantics and give evidence to a fact, which unfortunately is still widely denied.

The resulting artwork is installed on the waters of the Río de la Plata, in front of the lookout where the Monument to the Victims of State Terrorism ends, its back to the spectator, who has to activate the memory of his/her own “desaparecidos” in order to reconstruct his face. The sculpture’s polished surface reflects its surroundings and makes the image more or less visible in the landscape depending on the weather conditions and the moment of the day.

Reconstruction of the Portrait of Pablo Míguez
Water reflections from the Río de la Plata on mirror polished stainless steel
Measurements for the figure: 170 x 50 x 70 cm
2000/2010
Floating on Río de la Plata, coordinates: 34° 32,3660 S / 58° 26,2575 W

Texts

Artist’s statement (1999)

Press

Wounds In the River: Artwork at Memory Park by Gabriela Schevach, in Juanelear.
Arte y política en la Bienal de San Pablo by Cristina Civale.
La memoria junto al río by Florencia Battiti, in Gazpacho magazine, page 88.
“No se sabe nada de lo que pasó con Pablo” by Alejandra Dandán, in Página12, October 11, 2010.

Credits

Photographs:
1 and 2 Parque de la Memoria Archive
3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 © Claudia Fontes
8 © Marcelo Brodsky 
9 © Graciela Díaz
10, 11 and 12 © Res

You can view the whole project as a PDF file