Visual Artist and Poet
Born and raised in Argentina, Marcelo survived the so-called Dirty War that terrorized his country in the mid to late 1970s. Marcelo’s best friend was “disappeared” in 1976. A year later, he was the victim of an attempted kidnapping but was lucky enough to escape. Before the dictatorship was over, Marcela fled to Barcelona, Spain in 1978 where he lived through the 1980s. While exiled, his brother Fernando was kidnapped and was “disappeared” in 1979. Marcelo never saw his best friend or brother again.
During his exile, Marcelo graduated with a degree in economics from University of Barcelona and studied photography at the International Center of Photography in Barcelona under the direction of photographer Manel Esclusa. After the fall of the junta, he returned to Argentina, producing over the years a prolific portfolio of photographs, visual essays, poetry, and curated exhibitions. Central to Marcelo’s work is the affects of terrorism in Argentina.
Marcelo’s work seeks to communicate to younger generations the experience of state terrorism that occurred in Argentina. His motivation is to provoke emotion and discussion about the consequences of the military dictatorship. His art includes his most well-known work Good Memory (1997), which traveled to more than 26 countries between 1997 and 2007 and is in the permanent collection in the library at the International Commission of Human Rights in Washington, DC. Other works include the Wretched of the Earth (2000), an exhibition of books that were buried out of fear of repression during the time of the dictatorship; Nexus (2001), a photographic essay about collective memory; The Stones of the AMIA (2002), an installation of collages in the shape of stars using remnants of granite block from the site of the car bombing that killed 85 people in 1994; and Images against Ignorance (2003), a visual “public intervention” in Hannover, Germany. Marcelo edited Memory Under Construction, the Debate on ESMA (2005), an installation of art and texts by Argentine artists and essayists that debate the issues of transforming ESMA into the Space for Memory and the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights. This work represents a significant and chilling part of Argentina’s Dirty War. ESMA (Escuela Superior de Mecanica de la Armada) was founded in 1924 as the Navy Petty-Officers School of Mechanics. On March 24, 1976, the day of the coup d’état that overthrew Isabel Peron’s presidency, several people were abducted by the military and taken to ESMA. Under the orders of Navy Commander-in-Chief Emilio Eduardo Massera, ESMA became the primary illegal, clandestine detention center between 1976-1983 for thousands of forced disappearances, torture, and executions in the junta’s systematic efforts to restore order and rid its country of subversives. It imprisoned pregnant women until the birth of their babies. The babies were adopted out to military families and the mothers were killed. It is believed that only 150 people survived ESMA.
To honor and memorialize Rabbi Marshall Meyer, an important human rights activist of Argentina, Marcelo made the triptych I Pray with My Feet (2014). Rabbi Meyer lived in Argentina for 30 years and founded the Bet El Congregation in Buenos Aires. During the Dirty War, he cared for the persecuted and was one of the few people who spoke out about the disappeared. Meyer founded the Jewish Movement for Human Rights with Herman Schiller and other activists. When the dictatorship ended, Meyer, an American citizen, was the only foreign person to be honored by an invitation to become a member of the CONADEP (National Commission About the Disappearance of People).
Marcelo’s work has appeared in Argentina, Spain, Brazil , Mexico, Chile, Germany, and Poland. He has lectured in universities in the United States, England, and Argentina.
Marcelo is a member of the Buena Memoria Human Rights organization and the Pro-Monument to the Victims of Terrorism Commission, which oversees and coordinates the construction of the Memory Park close to the Rio del la Plata River and of the Monument to the missing and murdered during the military dictatorship.