Portraits of Chilean Disappeared

Artist Statement

On September 11, 1973, Chilean General Augusto Pinochet directed a United States backed military coup against the democratically elected Marxist President Salvador Allende and his government. All left wing parties were subsequently banned, and dissidents and their families targeted for repressive measures.

The Pinochet regime employed the technique of enforced disappearances: arresting, detaining, or abducting people and then denying any such actions. No records were kept, no information given, and the fate of many who were disappeared is still unknown. Without this information, families and friends cannot mourn or have closure.

In 1989, I acquired books and posters compiled by the Catholic Church in Chile to document the disappearances. I isolated the photographs and cut away all identifying information, attempting to understand the process of destroying not only a person, but an identity and even moment of death. I studied the hundreds of photographs of faces for five years until I found ones that for me were the most haunting.

The dates that make up the titles are randomly selected from the period of the disappearances. They are always contained in the paintings, though often hidden from view.