This video from the USA is called Fernando Botero‘s “Abu Ghraib” – A Conversation with the Artist. ‘Fernando Botero, Artist in conversation with Robert Hass, Professor of English, UC Berkeley; Poet Laureate of the United States (1995-1997).’
From Associated Press:
Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib art claims spot in nation’s capital
WASHINGTON: Images of blood-streaked, bruised bodies naked and blindfolded in their cells at Abu Ghraib are again on display in the United States — this time in Washington, where the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal embarrassed the Bush administration.
The first complete U.S. showing of artist Fernando Botero’s 79 Abu Ghraib paintings and drawings opens Tuesday at the American University Museum. The images are disturbing and obscene, but Botero offers them as a reminder of what he calls one America’s worst moments.
“I did it because I was very angry. It was a shock for the rest of the world — for everybody — but for an artist, even more,” said Botero, 75. “I’ve never painted anything with such a direct feeling that just came out of me.”
The paintings use Botero’s iconic oversized bodies — but with pain, gritted teeth and beatings from latex-gloved guards instead of his earlier lighthearted subjects.
Botero was inspired by stories from the New Yorker and other accounts of abuses at the notorious Iraqi prison, but wasn’t trying to recreate the infamous photos of prison guards standing over their detainees with leashes and other props. Instead, he focused mostly on the abused. Still, he said he was careful not to portray anything that was not reported in journalistic accounts. …
It has been difficult for Botero to get an audience for the controversial works, painted in 2005 and 2006. A traveling exhibition service got few takers among U.S. museums, but part of the collection was shown late last year at New York’s Marlborough Gallery and earlier this year at the University of California at Berkeley.
For ‘few takers’, up until this exhibition at the American University Museum, read ‘zero takers’ in US museums.
For the current show, in a town where leaders still cannot agree on how to define torture, curators at the university hoped Botero’s work could bring some clarity.
“Torture in the abstract, when it’s far away, it’s something that you can maybe accept a lot more easily than when it’s not next to you,” said Jack Rasmussen, director of the museum. “When it’s depicted in such a powerful way, it’s harder to ignore.” …
Rasmussen had to do some persuading to get university officials to host the show. Ultimately, he said, academic freedom and free speech won out.
The exhibit comes as U.S. senators have clashed with attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey over whether waterboarding — which simulates drowning — is torture. But Botero said he has no illusions his work will influence the political debate. He insists he’s not drawing messages but acknowledges his work makes a political statement.
“I hope that this issue that has marred this administration will be solved,” Botero told The Associated Press. “If you think torture is only when you see blood, then it’s very serious because there is brain damage in so many things that happen with waterboarding and this kind of thing.” …
The Abu Ghraib exhibit is part of the museum‘s larger “Art of Confrontation” show of social and political protest art. It includes exhibits on feminist art and artist Irving Norman’s critique of capitalism, war and the elite [also on Norman: here].
Botero’s work will be on view through Dec. 30. It is then scheduled for a showing in Monterey, Mexico.
From Associated Press today:
5 soldiers killed, making 2007 deadliest year of Iraq war for U.S. troops
- Ai’s Crabs at $775000; Magritte’s Lady Legs; Botero Pets – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Abu Ghraib Brutality in Florida’s Youth Prisons: Suit Charges Rape and Other Abuses (inprisonedwomen.wordpress.com)
- Botero! get me bodied artwork (curvesbecomeher.wordpress.com)
- 125 Years and Counting (mam.org)
- An Afternoon with Botero (loriloo.com)
- Nun Eating an Apple by Fernando Botero (sararedeghieri.wordpress.com)