September 2023 Archives

In 2005, Fernando Botero produced a series of graphic paintings based on photographs of prisoners abused at the American jail in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. He curiously bequeathed the lot to UC Berkely's law school, which harbors the author of torture techniques depicted in those paintings -- several of which have been displayed (may still be; I haven't visited in years) outside the office of Boalt's dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who continues to defend the employment of war criminal John Yoo.


"They depict his nightmarish vision of the torture at Abu Ghraib," wrote one of his most vocal critics. "Many find this juxtaposition of proudly displaying the Abu Ghraib paintings, at the school which allows the lawyer whose work product enabled this grotesque, violent mistreatment and murder under official U.S. authority, just too bizarre for words. But we did end our visit to the dean, with a solemn presentation by Janet Weil (Code Pink) of a poem written by a Guantanamo prisoner, Mohammed el Gharani."

"These works are the result of the indignation that the violations in Iraq produced in me and the rest of the world,"  explained Botero.

"When we think about the Colombian artist Fernando Botero, most of us visualize his roly-poly people flaunting their fat, their fashionable headgear, their cigarettes and cigarette holders, their excess," wrote novelist and critic Erica Jong. "I never thought of these as political images until I saw Botero's Abu Ghraib series." Now, she added, "I see all Botero's work as a record of the brutality of the haves against the have-nots."  

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