Sinonimia (Synonymy) draws upon three characters, two real and one fictional and is interested in the connections these three particular constructions generate. Memory is built by negating specific fragments or elements from the stories that constitute history. And history is a way to legitimate certain collective memories.
Svetoslav S. (1909-?) was a painter, born in the border between Romania and Hungary. His life is constructed from a diverse set of fragments which have no connection if seen separately. From the production of a fake body of works, together with documents and photos, an attempted reconfiguration of a life is intended.
Viviana Gallardo. On July 1, 1981, Viviana (1963-1981) was murdered in one of the cells of the Central Police Station in San José, Costa Rica. She is accused of terrorism and dies without being judged by the judicial system. Prior to her incarceration, her figure is constructed by the media and the police, as the leader of a Marxist-Leninist organisation. With only 18 years, Gallardo and her case, are listed as one of the most controversial crimes in the history of Costa Rica.
José María Figueroa (1820-1900) During the late nineteenth century, illustrator José María Figueroa documents and works on images of various kinds, portraits of everyday life Costa Ricans of the time, its social contrasts, political diatribes, geography and customs. The so-called "Álbum de Figueroa" (Figueroa's Album) and the "Cuadernos de Figueroa" (Figueroa Journals) to this date protected by the National Archive with restricted access, have become fundamental pieces of the history of that other Costa Rica. The Red Journal, found by chance in the library of Rafael Yglesias (former president of CR), is an ingenious satire on the Costa Rican politics of liberal governments and the omnipresence of the Catholic religion. The pieces that are shown on this occasion come from the Red Journal.
The documents of José María Figueroa are part of the oblivion in the process of official education of our country, in fact, his irreverent gesture meant the exile for 12 years by President Juan Rafael Mora. Since its appearance, Figueroa's archives were silenced for contravening the order of the politicians of the day. However, knowing Figueroa's work is inevitable to think about how silence can find ways to be said in the image, from the use of resources of the language of illustration, such as irony, the treatment of the characters, the scale or perspective, in these current palimpsests.
The images inverted from positive to negative constitute an exercise of appropriation of Figueroa's discourse, perhaps functioning as a metaphor for the local tendency, even today, to decode our contexts in dichotomous categories, black and white, good and evil. The question is inevitable: who is entitled to legitimise history and how is this history legitimised?
(Text fragment from Las formas del silencio by Xiomara Zúñiga Salas. 2017)
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An audio file complements the image panel that contains the fragments of his life. The text was written by Tatiana Monge, who currently studies at the International School of Cinema and Television (EICTV) in Cuba. Monge developed a small biographical and fragmented text, departing from certain parameters such as religious beliefs, gender, tentative origins, and historical chronology. Besides these elements, Monge had total freedom to write using the collected images of Svetoslav S´s life. The text was then recorded in a professional studio with the voice of Mariela Baltodano, an artist based in Costa Rica.
The soundtrack can be listened in the exhibition space as a gadget, as well as following this link or QR code (Spanish audio):
Install Shots of the exhibition space at the Alliance Francaise, San José, Costa Rica, 2017.