León Ferrari (1920 - 2013)

Untitled (2001)

Baby bottle and booklet
height: 20cm
width: 5cm

Donated by Gabriela Salgado 2001


The work of Leon Ferrari has been distinguished, since 1955, by its clear political engagement, explicit commentary, and formal transgression of that which is understood as a work of art. Ferrari's work has been repeatedly censored due to its open condemnation of the military dictatorship in Argentina, its constant denunciation of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the State during this period, and its use of materials that are deemed inappropriate or offensive (the imagery of Catholicism touched by Santeria, bird dung, plastic cockroaches). Untitled consists of an ordinary baby's bottle that is marked with the words 'Declaracion Universal de Derechos Humanos' (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and the emblem of the United Nations. As with other of Ferrari's works, this piece is composed of readymade objects and the encounter of incongruous elements. The underlying theme, as in much of the artist's oeuvre, seems to be the torture inflicted on the civilian population by those in power. The piece points to the early stage of development of the practice of law regarding human rights in Latin America, inexistent in some countries even today. Ferrari may also be commenting on a Latin American phenomenon in which the appearance of institutions that deal with human rights have served more to calm down popular unrest - very much as milk in a bottle settles down a baby - than to do actual justice in the present or to redress crimes perpetuated in the past.

Daniel Usabiaga, 2008

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