Friday, 10 October 2014

Cordoba, museum of memory and Jesuit churches

Buenos Aires domestic airport is next to the sea and I enjoyed the beautiful sunlight on the sea before flying to Cordoba. I then flew over endless prime agricultural land flat, watered, green with large fields and farmhouses. No sign of cattle.

Cordoba looked rather poor as I drove in from the airport, small houses, low price shops, it feels like "poor America " on outskirts of town; in contrast the centre feels very Spanish colonial and much wealthier. I walked down to the plaza San Martin, and lunched next to a huge old 16 Carmelite monastery. All the churches here are heavily decorated with marble catholic statues which don’t excite me. The Jesuits were very active here and had large churches which remain but also libraries and colleges, this alone of learning was called the mañzana . The colleges that started life under the Jesuits then became baroque building s and are now university facilities of science and social science. I enjoyed the distance that they have travelled. There are still some lovely cloisters around and the social scientists can now walk around cloisters arguing about Argentine society. But I am irritated by the obvious wealth of ten churches and the poverty of the people around.

The most memorable part of the day was visiting "The museum of memory". This is set in a former torture centre next to the cathedral. It was set up by a committee of mothers searching for their children; they have now converted the whole torture centre into a museum where art and memory work together. In one room the previous objects of the youngsters who disappeared are displayed: LPs of 60s rock musicians and 60s fashionable clothes, a motorbike, one then walks through a room where all the names of the disappeared are displayed on the wall in a poetic flowing piece, they looked like a flock of disappeared birds. I gazed at the cells, one is glassed off and I could imagine the torture going on there, upstairs were more interrogation rooms. On the ground floor the central yard had been decorated with a display of light bulbs hanging from the ceiling and in another form one could hear the testimonies of the mothers, sadly not translated into English. The organisational aspect of the torture was captured by a room with a desk. The judicial investigation was also captured with a photo of the court hearing, middle aged people looking very serious. It was immensely moving and the curators had used art beautifully to capture the different aspects of disappearing. I have always been touched by torture and I found this museum very poignant and moving. The museum was more vivid for me through having experienced the disappearance of Alastair and I thought about him a lot afterwards.

Cordoba is lively in the evenings, lots of electro beat coming out of bars and I had supper next a band playing Andean music with guitar, drums and flute with a large appreciative crowd on the streets.

No comments:

Post a Comment