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USC exhibition explores international genocide

The Denouncing Violence exhibition is presented as part of USC’s Genocide Awareness Week. “This Woman Is Vietnamese,” John Schneider, Collective Graphics Workshop, 2008 Digital Print of 1970 original. (Posters/Collection of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics)

Rosie the Riveter, Che Guevara and Uncle Sam — what do these seemingly dissimilar historical figures all have in common? Transcending time and place, they’re the subjects of compelling pieces of artistic iconography that embodied their respective political movements. These iconic figures are often more memorable than the political causes that they supported and better able to create a global conversation about events that bring about social change.

This notion served as inspiration for Denouncing Violence Against Women, an upcoming exhibition at the USC Fisher Museum of Art presented as part

of USC’s Genocide Awareness Week and on view from April 8 to April 21. Selected in partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation: The Institute for Visual History and Education, 18 posters from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics aim to showcase the artistic response to international genocides in Armenia, the Congo, Guatemala and Rwanda, as well as the Holocaust and the murders of women in Ciudad Juárez in Mexico.

The exhibition is divided into four sections, each representing a different form of violence against women: dehumanization, individuality, trauma and breaking bonds.

“Las Muertes de Juárez Demandan Justicia,” Julián Herrera, 2003, Mexcio

“Though the posters share commonality in their themes, each reflects a unique historical instance of violence — the Holocaust, torture in Chile, murdered women in Juarez,” said Raphael Gatchalian, administrative and public relations coordinator at the Fisher Museum. Each poster, he added, aims to both capture a moment in history and raise awareness of these acts of brutality that — much like the victims of such violence — too often become silenced.

Denouncing Violence Against Women reveals “the power of art and creativity to confront social injustices,” Gatchalian noted. The student-curated exhibition will be presented as part of a weeklong series focusing on artistic responses to mass violence.

“Rural Women Unite Against Violence,” Network of Rural Women’s Groups, Sri Lanka

Sponsored by Vision and Voices, the first event, taking place on Monday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the museum, will be an opening reception highlighted by a panel discussion centered on the role played by political art in society. Stephen Smith, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation, Selma Holo, director of the Fisher Museum, and others will take part in the discussion.

On Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Ground Zero Performance Café, playwrights Yvette Rugasaguhunga and Catherine Filloux will explore the power of theater to raise awareness and inspire global audiences.

The final element of USC’s second annual Genocide Awareness Week will be a film screening of The Elida Schogt Trilogy, a collection of films that examine the Holocaust through an abstract lens. The screening, to be followed by a closing reception, will take place on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Ray Stark Family Theatre and feature filmmaker Schogt and Michael Renov, associate dean at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

A relatively new series at USC, Genocide Awareness Week sets out to demonstrate “the power of the arts to communicate messages of survival and hope in the face of great tragedy.” In doing so, Denouncing Violence Against Women can be seen as more than a rare glimpse at the aesthetic world of political iconography. Rather, this exhibition — and the events carried out in tandem — serve as a call to action, asking observers to realize the depth of such violence and to accept the responsibility involved in fighting it.





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