There are events in human history which irrevocably alter the course of a life, a people and our global family. We have all seen images of the aftermath of cataclysmic natural disasters, but when catastrophe is deliberately imposed by another, there is no measurement for its human toll. Yet among the untold tragedies inflicted on the innocent, there are stories of individuals who have been able to transcend, and even transform these cruelties into expressions of empathic witness and universal relevance.
In 1979, the brother of Argentine-born artist Marcelo Brodsky, Fernando Brodsky, was abducted by the Argentine Security Forces operating under the military government who were installed to power following the violent coup of March 1976. From an affluent Jewish family, Fernando Brodsky was known to be involved in socialist causes, and was “disappeared” among close to 30,000 persons under the United States-backed regime. Many of the disappeared were tortured, drugged, bound and dropped, some from airplanes, into the Rio de la Plata River. Fernando Brodsky was lost.
For Brodsky, his brother’s disappearance not only indelibly left its mark of tragedy, but changed the course of his life. The young Brodsky was forced to flee Argentina, settling in Barcelona, where he embarked on a journey of opposition to injustice in his country of origin, and documenting resistance movements and the fight for human dignity around the world.
The images in “Marcelo Brodsky 1968: The Fire of Ideas and Selected Works,” on view at the Thorne-Sagendorph
Art Gallery at Keene State College, span many decades and a range of geographical settings. Utilizing varied media over photographic prints, Brodsky has revitalized archival photographs of the mass demonstrations which took place in 1968 in major cities throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Carefully inscribed text, color and content overlay bring out details in facial expression, background structures, clothing and defiantly-held placards announcing rebellion and resistance to social oppression. Especially effective is Brodsky’s manipulation of perceived distance to enhance the appearance of limitless depth of vision, providing a representation, both allegorical and literal, of the possibilities engendered when vast numbers of demonstrators resist in concert for the common good.
In a recent correspondence during his April visit to Paris, Brodsky shared his thoughts on reaching out to youth
through historical narrative. “When the youth today is confronted visually with the youth of 1968 marching in the streets of the world for more freedom, more rights, more power and changes in culture, a more relaxed sexuality and a better future they realize that all these youngsters were like they are today, which can invite them to think about it, search that time and ideas and decide whether today they can also fight for something, again for a better future without fascism, demagogy and war,” Brodsky said.