At the basis of this project – in contrast to my artistic work up to now – lies a concrete idea: the creation of a place for remembrance, confrontation, and conversations at a central location in Montevideo.
Apart from human rights organizations and those affected directly, many Uruguayans deal with human rights violations and the amnesty for perpetrators of those crimes. A memorial project, involving the general public, groups and organizations, supports the healing process of a society.
“When a society loses its moral points of reference, when freedom is nothing more than a longing, when families break apart, when everything is forced upon us against our will then generations will pay the price.”
Carlos Varela Nestier,
Former president of the Departamental Board of Montevideo
A memorial is never only for the victims, but serves society as a whole as place of remembrance and confrontation, as concretization of history in space. Traumas and long-term consequences of unmentioned suffering take their toll on society. Political injustice, the murder of innocents, torture and crimes against humanity cannot be suppressed, or hushed up. They demand confrontation, atonement, documentation. Otherwise they act as poison in society and reappear unexpectedly at unforeseen places.
The monument was conceptualized from the beginning for a central place in Montevideo. The location should allow an encounter with the monument by chance, a discovery while passing by, a break in the daily routine – that’s why the decision for a central location with good visibility and a high frequency of passers-by was an important first step in the realization of the project.
The Plaza de la Democracia – opposite the central bus station and the Tres Cruces shopping center at the Avenida Italia – fulfills these criteria. A unanimous council resolution of the corresponding Montevideo Municipal CH enabled the Mayor of Montevideo and the Departmental Board to give their consent to the project.
The central location of the monument retrieves the memory of the victims of the dictatorship into the center of the city. This is all the more important as the Memorial of the Missing (Memorial en Recordación de los Detenidos Desaparecidos) and the Museum of Remembrance (Museo de la Memoria) are located outside of the center.