press release  24-4-99

The Pillar of Shame in Mexico City
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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 Government’s 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) photos of the Pillar of Shame in Hong Kong

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. CLETA’s 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:

Further information:

CNI (Congreso Nacional Indígena)
Tabasco 262 – Of. 102
Col. Roma
Mexico D.F.

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

Jens Galschiot
Banevaenget 22
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

Level Up

1999: The Pillar of Shame in Mexico

Additional Information:
Categories: 1999: The Pillar of Shame in Mexico | Happenings and Art Installations | 1996-?: The Pillar of Shame
Themes: Criticism of governments | Indigenous peoples | Massacres
Sculptures: Pillar of Shame
Type: Press releases
Dates: 1999 | 18th April 1999 | 29th April 1999 | 1st May 1999 | 12th May 1999
Locations: Acteal, Chiapas, Mexico | La Realidad, Lacandona jungle, Mexico | Chapultepec park, Mexico city, Mexico | Zócalo, Mexico city, Mexico | San Cristóbal, Chiapas, Mexico
Co-operators and Helpers: Amado Avendaño, governor in rebellion | Bishop Samuel Ruiz | Carlos Rodrigo F. Sáenz | CIEPAC | Claudio Cifuentes | Colette Markus | Daniel Markus | Danish Embassy in Mexico | Finn Damgård Andersen | Fray Ba - Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas | FZLN - Frente Zapatista de Liberación Nacional | Gómez Hernández Eliseo | Gloria Rico | Guy Markus | Internationalt Forum (Mayo) | Julie Greve Nielsen | Kasper Markus | Luca Martinelli | Mette Lindgren Christophersen | Niller Madsen | Ofelia Medina | Robert Etches | Silvie Cifuentes | Sofus Markus | Tinku (Mikkel og Doris) | Town Hall of México DF
Partners: CLETA (Centro Libre de Experimentación Teatral y Artística) | CNI (Consejo Nacional Indígena) | Enrique Cisneros, CLETA | Las Abejas en Acteal
Related Persons and Entities: Government of Mexico, 1999 | Immigration Office in San Cristóbal
Sponsors: BUPL | DeTrey Dentsply AG, Schweiz | Fredsfonden | Funch Fonden | Gelsted/Kirk/Scherfig fonden | Kultursekretariatet i Odense Kommune | Lysgaard Fonden | Socialpædagogernes Landsforbund / National Federation of Social Educators | Socialpædagogernes Landsforbund i Vejle | Vedstaarup Lerfabrik A/S