The State of Disappearance – Exhibition at Centrespace, Bristol


For two weeks during October and November, 2023, an international art exhibition and series of public talks arrives at the Centrespace gallery in Bristol to draw attention to the problem of human disappearance. A powerful series of 75 original works by the Mexican abstract painter Chantal Meza, will be showcased, which will provide an evocative journey and testimony on the violence. Through a complimentary series of free public talks and panel discussions from renowned authorities, visitors will have the opportunity to learn and discuss a broad set of issues from enforced disappearance, the holocaust, slavery, along with the challenges of finding the missing in natural disasters.

Chantal Meza and Professor Brad Evans will be giving a talk on the subject at BRLSI on Tuesday 17 October 2023 – you can read more about it and buy tickets here.

While the problem of human disappearance is often associated with 20th Century authoritarian regimes in Latin America, often in countries still coming to terms with this legacy, from the ongoing disappearance of tens of thousands of persons in Mexico, to the use of the tactic in Syria and Ukraine, it remains a pressing issue that demands attention. For example, in Mexico since 2006, the number of enforced disappearances in the country reported by Human Rights Watch are over 100,000. During the same period, there has been the discovery of more than 4000 clandestine graves spread across the country.

The exhibition is part of the State of Disappearance project, which was conceived in 2017. It is co-directed by Professor Brad Evans (Director of the Centre for the Study of Violence, University of Bath) and Visual Artist Chantal Meza. Commenting on the problem, they explain: “Disappearance is marked by a devastating absence. It constitutes a form of violence that rips open a wound in time. It offers no viable recovery and no meaningful justice. It provisions alibis to perpetrators, while denying the victims their very humanity. And for those who are left to live with its presence, the terror is unending.”

Countering this demands a joined up response that brings together artists with academic communities, policy makers and advocacy groups in engaged public ways. Mindful of this, the State of Disappearance exhibition aims to highlight the ongoing problem of human denial, while seeking to bring attention to the disappeared of history, whose plight shouldn’t be forgotten.

Art, BRLSI News, World Affairs
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