Nadie se atreva a llorar, dejen que ria el silencio [No one dares to cry, let silence laugh], Juan Toro’s latest exhibit at ONG Organización Nelson Garrido, is not for the faint-hearted. Offering an unapologetic fetishization of violence, the exhibition oscillates between the documentation of the anonymity of death and the individualised pain it leaves behind. Photographs trace the streets of Caracas stained in blood alongside the aesthetics of grief that follows. Strips of tape cover the eyes of bodies draped in morgues while the eyes of victims’ relatives reveal incomprehension, trauma, nothingness. The pain overspills from one frame to another, uncontained and indescribable by a single shot.
An installation set apart from the bloodied fabric of violence documents 400 identification tags that the artist rescued from corpses on their final journey from the morgue. Like the tiny strips of plastic that christen babies at birth, these larger, more sinister paper bands belong to those for whom naming has no logic. The photos in uniform size and format have an eerie feel that mounds of almost-identical objects often amass. Like Doris Salcedo‘s collection of shoes and dresses salvaged from Colombian massacres, or Alain Resnais‘ filmic shots of human hair left over from the Holocaust, Toro’s hoard of death tags is most haunting in its refusal to show its victims. The viewer is implicated in its anonymity. We are complicit in this violence, responsible for its proliferation. Perhaps more horrifying is our own reflection in the nonsensical series of numbers and letters. Through criminal or natural means, our destiny is universal. Toro’s cell-like installation is a reminder of this minimal end; his photographic chronicles a sad reminder of the prolific impunity of death in Caracas.
Nadie se atreva a llorar, dejen que ria el silencio runs until April 4th May at the ONG in Caracas.