The Pillar of Shame in Mexico City
The eight meter tall obelisk-like sculpture The Pillar of Shame consisting of more than fifty twisted human bodies has been placed in front of Casa del Lago in the Chapultepec Park in Mexico City.
The sculpture is created by the Danish sculptor, Jens Galschiot. It has come to Mexico in co-operation with CNI (the National Indigenous Congress of Mexico) and the theatre organisation CLETA, to highlight the Mexican Governments treatment of the indigenous population. It was erected in the Chapultepec Park on Sunday April 18. At the same time hundreds of Latin-American theatre people participating in the CLETA Theatre Festival, played theatre around the sculpture, attracting much attention from a great part of the several thousand Mexicans taking a Sunday stroll in the Chapultepec Park.
The Pillar of Shame is forming part of a global network of similar sculptures that as a sculptural outcry symbolises the crimes against and violent oppressions of human beings.
The first sculpture was displayed in Hong Kong shortly before the reunification with China in 1997. The sculpture highlighted the massacre on the Tiananmen square in Beijing 1989. The event caused heavy confrontations in the Hong Kong Parliament and 40% of the parliamentarians walked out, because the majority refused the Pillar to set up in a public place. Later the sculpture was a central part together with 50,000 people in a big solemn commemoration for the victims of Tiananmen. The Chinese students took over the three tons sculpture after the commemoration. After scuffles between students and police the sculpture was displayed at the Hong Kong University. Now the sculpture is one of the most well known symbols of the suppression of the freedom of expression in Asia.(more about the Hong Kong Pillar of Shame)
That is why the display in the Chapultepec Park has been mentioned in several Asian newspapers.
The display outside Casa del Lago is loaded with a poignant symbolism, since this place was declared an Aguascalientes (free area) by the Zapatistas on January 14, 1996. Two days later the military roamed the area to avoid a standpoint for the Zapatistas in Mexico City. CLETAs popular theatre forum which was located here, was destroyed, so at the same time the performances of the critical theatre organisation were put to a stop.
The date has been chosen to mark the International Day against Impunity (17 April). Next year at the same time another Pillar of Shame will be set up in Brazil, also to mark this date.
During the presentation of the sculpture a representative of the CNI (Consejo Nacional Indígena) said that there ought to have been people from the civilian organisation Las Abejas (the Bees). However they had been murdered by paramilitary groups during the massacre in Acteal, December 1997. CNI think it is a very important moment to display the sculpture since the Mexican Government is escalating the military presence in Chiapas, which is hindering the creation and development of tolerable conditions for the indigenous population. The CNI representative looked at the Pillar, which is a genuine expression of pain, and declared that: "our Pillar of Shame represents a part of reality that is of concern for us all, and when different peoples and artists unite they create a better future for all of us".
The Danish sculptor, Jens Galschiot, who participated in the presentation, spoke about the international connection in which the Pillar enters, and that the Mexican Pillar of Shame now was to find its appropriate function in the national Mexican conflict between the indigenous peoples and the Mexican Government. The Pillar is a gift from the Danish sculptor and it has a value of more that 300,000 US$. The three tons heavy sculpture will stay in the Chapultepec Park until the first of May when it will participate in the First of May demonstrations in Mexico City. After this the Pillar will be part of a cultural caravan arranged by CLETA going from Mexico City to Chiapas.
Photo material is available on the internet: www.aidoh.dk
CNI (Congreso Nacional Indígena)
Tabasco 262 Of. 102
Tel.: (525) 525 2545
CLETA (Centro de Libre Experimentación Teatral y Artística)
Apartado Postal 14-339
MX-7001 México D.F.
Tel.: (525) 600 4720
Fax: (525) 694 0747
DK-5270 Odense N
Tel.: +45 6618 4058
Fax: +45 6618 4158
Mobile telephones in Mexico (until the 18th May 1999): (52) 7327 4511 and (52) 7327 8757
More about the Pillar of Shame in
Mexico | A detailed description of
the Pillar of Shame | More about Jens Galschiot |
Photos of the Pillar of Shame in Mexico
|1999: The Pillar of Shame in Mexico|