Beyond the object. How artists in Central America depict violence

Posted on Sep - 11 - 2019

It is no secret that Central America has been transformed in recent decades, in a dangerous place, tainted by violence and gang warfare. The people living in the Northern Triangle, which includes Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are threatened on a daily basis. The precarity of their lives has led Centralamericans to migrate looking for a better environment, usually heading north in a dangerous journey to the United States. As people embark on the perilous journey beyond the Rio Grande, the ones left behind are exposed to turmoils of the region, one of them being gun violence. It’s ironic that the promised land in the North is the world’s biggest gun producer in the world, and that Central America is one of its biggest customers. People being armed has become standard in this region, and its citizens have grown accustomed to seeing guns daily.

Photo: Daniel Hernandez Salazar - Combatientes

Some artists highlight how these objects of violence can be regarded in different ways. Through various mediums, artists represented by Scoop Art, articulate the theme of the gun in their style, making social commentary or projecting their personal views. Here are three artists who address the gun motif.


Lezzueck Asturias, La Conquista, 2013

Asturias’s painting isn’t the grim representation of the gun as pure violence, but, as the title suggests, the conquest of it but forces of nature. Birds, in this case, are the agents that subdue this unnatural artifact which violence may not be embedded in its materiality, but rather on the person who excretes its power over it.

Walterio Iraheta, Armas 3, 2016-2018

Iraheta’s Weapon Series was created by his experience accompanying anthropologist in the exhumation processes in the indigenous areas of Guatemala. Reminiscing on the tradition of the objet trouvé, Iraheta appropriates the gun from the place that he first encounters it and displays it, combining a forensic and pop aesthetic.

Daniel Hernández Salazar, Beyond Weapons (Fighters) Series, 1996

Photographer Hernández Salazar is not subtle in what he wishes to transmit in his photographs — concluding the bloody Guatemalan civil war, the armed guerrillas were in the process of demobilizing. An important moment in Guatemalan history, Hernández Salazar captures in a monochromatic depiction, the lives of the people that fought in the remote locations, exerting violence for what they thought was a noble cause, only to see how time has deconstructed the ideological principals behind that futile conflict. 

By: Gabriela Martinez de la Hoz

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