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LA CANTUTA

 

In 1993, 9 students and one teacher from the National University of Education in Peru were kidnapped and killed by members of the Peruvian army, their bodies were found 6 months later buried in clandestine graves in the outskirts of Lima. At that time I was living in Peru were I was working as an architect assisting a major sculptor in that country, I helped him to design a memorial for those victims, that monument was never built but In 2005 when I received an invitation to show in Peru after 9 years living abroad, I decided to work on that subject which still held very strong memories for me. I visited the University and found that at the fashion workshops they made beautiful flowers out of white fabric for expensive wedding ceremonies in Lima, I thought of that element as ironic considering that the students of that University are normally of very poor backgrounds. On the way back to Lima I had the idea to use it as the motif of the installation, I also decided to make them of black crepe paper as a reminder that social injustice is still today an issue in Peru and to make 60,000, which was the total number of victims during the years of violence in Peru.  More than 1,000 people were involved in the making of the flowers including students and teachers from the National University of Education of Peru, school children and relatives of the victims, I also used 9 student desks and 1 teachers desk from those used during the years when the killing took place. The exhibition took place in the Gallery Artco in Lima, I created in a space 12 x 9 mts a classroom covering the desks and floor with flowers, I also hired a gardener to help me install them in the gallery.