Creating a community conscience: Is it possible through art?

Toll of Mexican Crime Wave, Written in Faces on the Wall

“…while earlier examples of victim-focused advocacy in Latin America have been aimed mainly at governments, many of Mexico’s so-called victim visualizers say they are less interested in politics and marches than in changing their neighbors’ mind-sets. Their campaigns are mostly attempts to create a public conscience, to keep people from committing or accepting violence by making them feel the suffering that ripples out from crime — largely through efforts that can be shared easily by word of mouth or social media.”

Rodrigo Cruz for The New York Times

Images have impact as seen throughout modern history. Photos of atrocities in Auschwitz, Vietnam, Darfur and others proved that images can move people to action. However, theses images of the past were of the actual atrocity not a portrait of the victim while living. The lasting image of the young man’s last seconds alive as recorded by Eddie Adams impacts the human soul. Or the lasting image of the furnaces at Auschwitz impacts the human soul. The camps in Darfur impacts the human soul. These images confront us with evil, remind us of how things are not supposed to end, tell us to defend the helpless, bring offenders of human rights to justice. The portrait project in Mexico communicates none of these ideas. It’s not a call to action, but a call to remember. That’s why it will fail.


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