Gabriela Cassano: "The Mothers had the strength that was born from the most immense pain”

Repair what is damaged so that beauty sprouts where horror prevailed. the plastic artist Gabriela Cassano invites us to look at the intersection between the family biography and the political in a different way. In Like a stone in the ponda graphic installation that opens this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Avellaneda Municipal Art Center (CMA), the small objects –letters, photos, a bouquet of thrush or the diaper transmuted into a handkerchief- “narrate the collective, from the personal, in a coming and going between the private and the public, between the individual and the political”, as Emilia Demichelis, the curator of this exhibition in which Cassano, sister of Alicia Cassano, head of Residents of the Italian Hospital detained disappeared in March 1977honors his own mother and the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in their sustained struggle for Memory, Truth and Justice.

When a stone is thrown into a pond, it stirs the water as soon as it touches the surface. Within a few seconds, the parts closest to where the stone was thrown also move. The stone generated a wave that spread. “In Like a stone in the pond I am referring to the movement of the Mothers, which began with a small movement without having any kind of support. When they started, they were not political referents; they were housewives who could not imagine how they would be recognized. I took white handkerchiefs to Spain and everyone understood what we were talking about; they are a world symbol”, Cassano tells Page 12. In this exhibition displayed on the ground floor of the CMA, one of the protagonists is her mother, Ofelia Cambiaggio, that young woman with a “fresh look”, as the curator defines her, who would be traversed by the terror of the civic-military dictatorship when they kidnapped her eldest daughter, Alicia Cassano, on March 23, 1977.

There are some “almost” transparent fabrics that hang down, as if they were glazes. The material, a sublimated gouache, contains black and white images of Ofelia, at the age of 18, with a bouquet of thrush, a small white bell-shaped flower. Cassano clarifies that the bouquet was added digitally. “The thrush is a flower that in France has to do with the beginning of spring, with rebirth; For the Christian religion, the tears of the virgin crying for her son at the foot of the cross would have made thrush bloom. For me they have the double meaning of the endless tears that Mothers cried for their children and being reborn in another way: going from the private sphere of their family to being world leaders -explains the artist-. The Mothers were reborn from another place with small actions; At first they couldn’t stand still and they were forced to walk, so they made a round”.

Cassano remembers that as soon as the Mothers began their fight they called them “crazy”, “liars”; they said that “their children were in Europe”. “Although the denial remains, there is now more evidence. Before it was pure denial. The Mothers had to fight without any kind of apparatus; There were no social networks. Abroad they were listened to, but (Raúl) Alfonsín and the Judgment of the Juntas had to come here and only then did the people say: ‘this happened’… Against all that, they had the incredible strength that was born from the most immense”.

After Alicia was kidnapped, they decided that Ana, “the middle sister”, would leave the country with her little son. He first spent time in the south of Brazil, but since he was not very safe he asked for political asylum and in March 1978 he settled in Rio de Janeiro to be under the protection of the UN (United Nations Organization). Then Ana called them to let them know that she would soon be leaving for Switzerland. They didn’t know they had their phone tapped. They took a bus to Rio de Janeiro, said goodbye to Ana, and when they returned they were waiting for them at the border. Mother and daughter were detained, they were interrogated, photos were taken, and Ofelia was told: “Be happy, mom, because you have a daughter left”. Emotion throbs in Cassano’s pupils and she sums up that experience, having been detained for two days with her mother, with one sentence: “We both survived; They decided not to kill us.”

In one sector of the exhibition there is a graphic installation with eight law books from the dictatorship era intervened by Cassano, an artist who graduated from the Prilidiano Pueyrredón National School of Fine Arts and completed his pictorial training with the teachers Aníbal Carreño and Carlos Cañás. . One of the books is open and pierced with a large square. When looking inside that square of amputated pages, an immense emptiness is perceived. “The right was what we lost, what was violated, what we stopped having,” says the plastic artist who presented last year In Memoriam, a graphic exhibition dedicated to “her best friend”, Cristina Comandé, a survivor of the Puente 12 clandestine detention center, who died in February 2022. On one of the walls of the CMA there is a screen with three videos filmed by the artist with actions he carried out on those law books. In one of the videos she buries a book. “The action of burying can have the double message of taking care of the book; many people buried books they considered dangerous. There was the burial of books out of fear, ”she admits. But in this action, after a month, she digs up the book and exposes how she survived the deterioration of the humidity. “The right was rescued, although it was complicated -analyzes her-her. The Mothers have always asked for justice, even if justice has been slow”.

Cassano pulls the thread that connects the intimate and the public in the act of excavation. “My sister, who had been to Vesuvius, was buried as her NN in the Lomas de Zamora cemetery. The Argentine Forensic Anthropology team recognized my sister’s remains in 2010”, condenses that biographical and political itinerary. Another work is titled cloaks of silence; It is a square cloth with several pockets in which there is a pin with Alicia’s face –which the artist usually uses in marches on March 24– or mini cushions with lithographs of the artist’s father, mother, and grandparents . Some red children anticipate the blood that will be shed. “There were many silences; there were many things left unsaid in families. I would ask mom: why did your dad come from Italy? I don’t know; I never asked her, she answered me herself. I try to take what he suffered and try to embellish it. In my head I always have that if something is broken I have to fix it”.

*Like a stone in the pond It can be visited until April 1, from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the CMA, San Martín 797 (Avellaneda).

Disclaimer: If you need to update/edit/remove this news or article then please contact our support team Learn more

J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

Leave a Reply