On the East Wing of Museum Africa, opposite Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life, two Argentinian photographic shows open on Thursday 24th at 12h30.
Ausencias, (Absences) is the title of the second featured exhibition by photographer Gustavo Germano. The concept and the works are a heartbreaking focus on the people who ‘were disappeared’ during Argentina’s so-called Dirty War. Gustavo’s own brother, Eduardo, was one of the many thousands of people taken by the then-dictatorship’s brutal thugs, never to return. His own and his family’s personal experience of their loss motivated Germano to find other families like his own, and to work with them to produce a series of devastatingly brilliant images that force the viewer to feel 'the chasm of absence.'
These images are from the exhibition catalogue for Ausencias. This one above features the photographer’s own brothers.
Adriana Lestido’s exhibition, Lo Que Se Ve (What Can Be Seen) focuses intensely on love, the beauty, difficulty and complexity of it, through images, mostly of women, with children, in hospital, in prison and in the everyday. Adriana’s work is shown together with texts from writers, including the Latin American poet Pedro Salinas.
In a review of her show in Argentina last year, Emily Tarbuck writes, “Born in Buenos Aires, Lestido was the first Argentine photographer to win the Guggenheim fellowship. She captured her first images on her father’s camera when she was only four or five years old, but it was her homeland’s last dictatorship that sparked her compulsion to capture something bigger. The period saw the disappearance of her friend Willy in 1979, a figure paramount in her political awakening and joining of the Communist Vanguard. Lestido recalled that "his absence had somehow shaped my work. The need to record things in images, I suppose. To put an image in front of the absence.”
There is a stark resonance between both Lestido and Germano’s exhibitions and what is perhaps one of the saddest legacies of apartheid - many South Africans who still experience the loss of members of their family here who never came home. One such story is that of the Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) operative Nokathula Simelane which you can read about here in City Press.
Late in June this year, just before Gustavo Germano came to South Africa for his show, the Germano family announced that the remains of his brother Eduardo had finally been found. He was laid to rest at a family funeral on the 17th of July 2014.