“[…] with these words, I aspire […] to pass judgment on nothing less than Western, Christian civilization. Because I believe that our civilization is approaching the highest degree of barbarity ever recorded in history. Because it seems to me that for the first time in history, all the conditions of barbarity has come together: the richest and most powerful countries is invading one of the least developed; it tortures the inhabitants, photographs the torture, publishes the photographs in its newspaper, and no one says anything. Hitler still had the modesty to hide his tortures; Johnson has gone further: He shows them. The difference between them reflects the differences in the responsibilities of their respective populations: The Germans could say that they didn’t know what was happening in Hitler’s concentration camps: but we, civilized Christians: we can’t say that.
For we see the faces of the tortured ones everyday in our newspaper, the same newspapers that talk to us about freedom and human rights […].
Those photographs and the passivity of the citizens of the west are the symbols of our advanced barbarity. […]
I cannot comment on the formal value of these works. All I ask of art is that it helps me say what I think with the greatest possible clarity, to invent the visual signs that will allow me to condemn with the great possible efficiency the barbarity of the west. It is possible that someone will show me that this is not art; I would have no problem, I would change course, change the name of what I do: I would cross out art and call it politics, corrosive criticism, whatever”.
-León Ferrari, La respuesta del artista,
in “Propositis”, Buenos Aires, 7 October 1965; Translated by Marguerite Feitlowitz, in León Ferrari. Retrospectiva. Obras 1954-2004, Buenos Aires, Centro Cultural Recoleta and Malba Andra Giunta Ed., 2004.
think with the senses feel with the mind, art in the present tense. Published by Marsilio, 2007 (p94)
Venice Biennial 2007