Being surrounded by genocide documentation, sifting through it all day, can get you down if you think about it too much. An important outlet for me is art. So, I have again delved into some experimentation with declassified document peace art. As I have explained before, taking “not-happy documents about some pretty terrible things” and “turning something ugly into something beautiful” with a strong message of moving toward recovery and peace after a horrific past.**
I’d like to think it is similar to other powerful pieces of art activism such as The Peace Paper Project, One Million Bones, and Suspended Together. And the more-well known declassified document artist, Jenny Holzer, and her paintings, and projections.
For this piece I made today, I took declassified U.S. government documents, as well as leaked Guatemalan military and police documents and made them into a colorful collage of peace doves. I chose some particularly difficult and heinous moments and words, to honor the suffering of many, but to also capture hope for a peaceful future, and peace for family members and survivors who still suffer not knowing the whereabouts of their loved ones.
This has got me thinking about other projects with these peace doves. It would be awesome to cut out hundreds of these doves and paste them on the wall, flowing down the hallways.
I am eager to see where this goes….
Government Documents used in this piece (for those interested in the deeper meaning behind the piece):
Document from the Historical Archive of the Guatemalan National Police – award given to Guatemalan police officers for the “arrest” (read: abduction and disappearance) of community leader and activist, Edgar Fernando Garcia.
Guatemalan Military document – Operation Sofia – a military patrol report from the Ixil region during the genocide in the summer of 1982; reports on the “elimination” of an indigenous woman and her two small children. Used as evidence in the genocide trial against Rios Montt.
U.S. State Department document – details an increase in political violence; and confirms the disappearance of community leaders by the Guatemalan National Police (1984). See full posting on document here.
**I sort of want to apologize for putting this heavy stuff up here – I know it’s not easy for people to read, and I know I’m somewhat desensitized because I deal with it all day and every day – but it is important for us to know. The more we educate each other about this, I hope the more we can stand together unified, saying “no more.” So instead of apologizing, I want to thank you for reading, and acknowledge, that yes this is powerfully disturbing – but it’s reality. Let’s work together so that it is no longer reality.