Yuyanapaq. To remember is an exhibit of more than 200 photographs selected from 80 image archives, including private collections, in Perú. The exhibit includes photos from 1980-2000 and was held for public viewing in Lima in 2003. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission added a visual component to their efforts to reconstruct the “truth” of manchaytimpu the "time of fear." Similar, albeit smaller, exhibits were held throughout Perú. Yuyanapaq: To remember is also a book of photographs published by Yale University that includes nearly 80 images from the original exhibit.
Several dead dogs were hanged on light poles in downtown Lima (Tacna and Emancipation Avenues) by Shining Path. They had banners that read “Deng Xiaoping, son of a bitch.” Downtown Lima December 26, 1980 Source: Yuyanapaq: To Remember
I would like to take up here the claim to “truth” of photographs. There is no doubt in my mind that these images represent what the photographers saw and that, in this sense, they are true. But as Susan Sontag points out, “the photographic image, even to the extent that it is a trace (not a construction made out of disparate photographic traces), cannot be simply a transparency of something that happened. It is always the image that someone chose; to photograph is to frame, and to frame is to exclude” (Regarding the Pain of Others). It is likely then that the experience of manchaytimpu was not as represented in the selection of photographs. Susan Sontag points out that photographs are understood to show truth, but I would argue that Yuyanapaq. To remember is similar to Goya’s Disasters of War. These sketches, because they are drawings, are charged only with evoking the horrors of war and not with representing truth. Photographs share the privileges that Beatriz Sarlo finds in the testimonial genre, both can count as evidence and the public is less critical of the narratives that they construct. Yuyanapaq: To remember brings the viewer up against a highly subjective selection of still images. Captions are necessary in order to make the images politically intelligible to a general public. Is it possible, as Sontag argues, that photographs cannot show historical truth, but instead suggest only that things like this happened? I am not in any way suggesting that the photographs of the Yuyanapaq: To remember exhibit have been tampered with or that someone purposely is misrepresenting the “truth,” but instead hope to emphasize the limits of the photographed image.
I would argue that the photographs of Yuyanapaq: To remember are sketches of the history of manchaytimpu similar to Goya’s Disasters of War that evoke memory in the people that see the exhibit. It is interesting to see the clip of the Peruvian actress and singer, Magaly Solier, as she goes through the exhibit and recounts memories and experiences with her family. In this clip Con Magaly Solier en Yuyanapaq the images of Yuyanapaq evoke memory rather than show the definitive “truth” of what happened during manchaytimpu. As she views Yuyanapaq, for example, the photographs prompt her memory and she recalls: "La gente era flaca, flaca y los perros eran gordos." The people were very thin and the dogs were so fat (4:07).
|Goya's Amarga presencia from Disasters of War|