Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Art from a Fractured Past. Memory and Truth-Telling in Post-Shining Path Peru

Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Art from a Fractured Past. Memory and Truth-Telling in Post-Shining Path Peru

Article excerpt

CYNTHIA E. MILTON, Art from a Fractured Past. Memory and Truth-Telling in PostShining Path Peru. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press. 2014. 307 pp. ISBN 978-08223-5530-4.

Among other fields, this book represents a timely and important contribution to scholarship on the relationship between memory and art in post conflict societies, Latin American popular cultures and, of course, recent Peruvian history and culture. In a thoughtful and carefully crafted introduction, Milton presents her project framed by her well informed and nuanced understanding of the 'battles for memory' in turn-of-the-century Peru. She guides the reader to make sense of the diverse material that follows, that allows for a rich sense of the complexities entangled in the processes of art and representation of the armed conflict in Peru, but particularly in Ayacucho, the region most affected by the atrocities endured between 1980 and 2000.

In three sections dedicated to visual representations, different genres of storytelling, and performative arts, respectively, Milton combines the work of authors from different academic disciplines and genres. Each text deals with the elaboration of memories of the armed conflict over the deeply fragmented background of Peruvian society. In the first section, the human rights community's agency is predominant. Milton examines testimonial drawings that were produced under the auspices of NGOs around the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) (2002-2003). She problematizes the methods, and the circumstances for the production of these drawings, placing them in context for her interpretation. Edilberto Jiménez is an anthropologist, artist and communicator who was also a field researcher for the TRC. His chapter presents his account on how he resorted to his art to elicit villagers from Chungi to recount the atrocities they had witnessed in their community. Makena Ulfe examines the TRC's decision to stage a giant retablo to connect with the people of Ayacucho at the ceremony presenting the TRC report, tracing back the history of the retablo ayacuhano and its transformation into an artefact for testimonial art.

The second section is perhaps the weakest, not due to the quality or relevance of each contribution, but because the internal coherence is not as strong as in the other two. …

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