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Neither dead nor alive

My reflection on #‎Invisibles, photographs & short stories on the disappeared students of Ayotzinapa, currently showing in Mexico City.

Photo of Marea Saldarriaga
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Neither dead nor alive

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The exhibition #‎Invisibles is a collection of photographs, short stories and illustrations from an open competition coordinated by MasterPeace México and are currently being shown at CCU Tlatelolco‪

The antechamber of the show was filled with people listening to the testimony of one of the parents of the 43 missing people from #Ayotzinapa 

The father of José Ángel Navarrete González has spent months roaming the highlands from Guerrero with his backpack, because just as the rest of the families of the other missing people, refuses to believe the federal government’s version of the story which holds that the students were detained by policemen from Iguala and Cocula and were turned to members of the criminal group Guerreros Unidos, to be incinerated in a trash dump in Cocula.


“The disappeared may be considered as an unrecognized hostage. His identity remains in suspicion because society thoughtlessly simplifies that the disappeared has a problem with justice and that makes him resemble a criminal”

This extract as well as the other works from the show make palpable that the conflict of the fading of the 43 people from #Ayotzinapa is more complex than what we perceive. There has been many more cases in Mexico of forced disappearance than what one can imagine.

The show revives the concern towards the grievous problems which Mexico faces, and through the perception of impactful images and stories the problem becomes personal.

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Some of the words I underlined are misterio, narcoestado, terrorismo de estado, estado fallido, abarca, fosas clandestinas, hartazgo, mentiras, tortura, instituciones corruptas, escándalos, violaciones de derechos humanos, etc.

“To the mother of a disappeared, reason tells her that her child is dead but her heart indicates the opposite. The biggest pain which burdens the family of the disappeared is that their beloved one has not only disappeared but has suffered. Or remains suffering.”

The person is neither dead nor alive.

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What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

A disappeared person is neither dead nor alive.

7 comments

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Photo of Jim Rosenberg

Really powerful. I've been thinking about the Buddhist ideas about death that (liberally paraphrased) death is universal and inevitable, and holding that truth closer to awareness can make our lives richer and the end of life easier. But your post highlights something different -- the reality for many around the world of living under threat. It makes me want to understand and learn more about what happens to our experience of life and our relationship to death when living under this kind of constant threat. What could we do to help in those situations (in addition to the most important thing of removing the threat) and what lessons are there for life in more peaceful circumstances?

Photo of Marea Saldarriaga

I wish I had the answer for that Jim Rosenberg  and I wish terrorism stopped as it only scares people away from Mexico however it is crucial to discusss these problems

Photo of Morgan Meinel

This is a very profound contribution, Marea. Thank you. My heart goes out to all of the individuals affected by the disappearances of these students. Thinking about how this story could be applied universally to this challenge - there's something really to be said about the experience of those who have lost loved ones without having the chance to say goodbye. This is incredibly challenging. 

Perhaps it's important to keep in mind that the loss or death of someone never truly ends a relationship. Although their life may be gone, they always live on in our thoughts and feelings. We can carry on their legacy and honor them by sharing their inspiring stories with the world (like you did here). 

Thanks again for your participation! :) 

Photo of Marea Saldarriaga

Definetely Morgan Meinel our death relatives souls are around and the proof of that is that they keep coming up in our dreams. A good way to honour their lives is by sharing our anecdotes of them with other people.

Photo of Aaron Wong

Hi Marea,
I love how Art and installations can really unify and bring people together to rally behind an issue and I think Art can be a very strong vehicle for spreading ideas. Looking forward to seeing how this might translate to an idea in the next phase! Also, check out another art installation post by Alison Killing : Death in Venice 

Photo of Ivellisse Morales

Great post, Marea! I can't imagine how it feels to be the loved one of someone who is neither dead or alive. The unanswered questions must be haunting. There is no closure... Do you by chance know how these family members cope aside from the examples you shared?

Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Marea! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.