Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ni Perdon, Ni Olvido

Oaxacan Artists Claudio Jeronimo and Demetrio Barrita
In May, 2006, the popular uprising in Oaxaca began. It resulted in far too many unnecessary deaths, and a hard felt blow to the economy of a city in which tourism plays an important role. Nearly seven years have passed, and this posting demonstrates that the events of 2006 are neither forgiven nor forgotten (Ni Perdon, Ni Olvido). In the six months that the uprising lasted, more than 25 protestors were killed, 70 arrested, and 40 seriously wounded. The work viewed here is a tribute to these people and the many who fearlessly partook in that struggle.This YouTube video link  is well worth watching if you would like more details of what took place in 2006. (

Sculpture before going into kiln
 I was privileged to have been invited to photograph the firing of the sculpture (to right) done by Demetrio and Claudio. Demetrio is a friend of Marie's and mine, a painter, sculptor, and political activist that lives in Oaxaca. He and his wife, Estela, were very involved in the uprising in 2006. Estela, like Marie, was taken from us far too early by breast cancer. For those of you who read Spanish, the following link is a fine tribute to a fine woman: It also lays the foundation as to what this sculpture is all about. Claudio is a master ceramicist and good friend of un buen amigo mio, Javier, who currently lives in Oregon. The work viewed in this posting was a joint project with Demetrio that was created and fired in his studio.

Moving the pieces to the kiln
Out of the kiln and ready to be put together

The sculpture, yet unnamed, is one piece in a much larger picture. Although the piece was conceived and produced by Demetrio and Claudio, it speaks for a community that has not been silenced. It weighs approximately 180 kilos (400 lbs) and stands over nine feet tall. Work began on it in January 2013 and it was ready to be fired in mid April. Because of the size of the work, it had to be sculpted in two separate pieces in order to fit it into the kiln. The piece required 18 hours to "cook" and 18 more to cool down. It took five people to lift each of the two pieces onto the cart to move them into the kiln. Engraved on one side of the sculpture are the words: "For crimes against humanity committed by Ulises Ruiz (then governor of Oaxaca). Engraved around the middle of the sculpture are the words: "Ni Perdon, Ni Olvido (Neither forgiven nor forgotten). 

We came back thirty six hours later to see the results of the firing. Much to everyone's satisfaction, the color changes were what they had hoped for. The finished piece was exquisite! Next, it had to be taken outside and the two pieces mounted one on top of the other, quite a formidable task.
Group with finished piece
The finished piece is far more than a beautiful work; it is a political statement that is part of a popular movement. It is not destined to stand in a gallery or studio to be admired. It belongs to the people who fought, and are still fighting, the struggle in Oaxaca. Like the incredible "street graffiti" that covered the walls of Oaxaca in 2006, I believe that this sculpture will finds it public space as a tribute to those who lost their lives in the struggle, and to those who continue to fight for what they believe is right.
Oaxaca graffiti art - 2006
At the time of this posting, the teachers in Oaxaca are still in the streets and have planned a march in Mexico City in favor of their "counter-educational-reform" that the current governor of Oaxaca has accepted as a valid alternative. The federal government, however, has stated that it will not accept any counter-reforms, nor will it give in to the pressures of the protesting teachers in Oaxaca and Guerrero. More trouble ahead? Spring break is over here next Monday, and neither sides appears ready to give in. May justice and peace prevail.

1 comment:

Sandy.Riverman said...

Just in case you were wondering, yes you do have an audience for your blog :-)