Friday, February 13, 2015

A Virtual Museum About Corruption in Paraguay

Their names are Ana Calvo, Dave Mac Cruz, Manuel Rolón, Sara Torres, Edgar Brando Almada,Pau Benabarre. Their task is to use illustrated satire to fight corruption in Paraguay. A more accurate description of what they do is to record instances of corruption in the South American country through their illustrations, which are housed at the non-profit Museo de la Corrupción

Given Paraguay's colorful (for lack of a better word) history of corruption, it seems natural that such an innovative and creative method of retaining collective memory of public corruption cases would emerge from alumni of the Guapa School of Creativity in Asunción. (Read more about reent cases of corruption in Paraguay in this week's edition of NotiSur). Founded in 2013, the school draws artists and students from various sectors of the community, including students at the Bellas Artes de Asunción, urban graffiti artists as well as professionals in graphic design firms.

For their own reasons, the six current artists that comprise the work of el Museo de la Corrupción came to create work for this not-for-profit collective because it offered them the capacity to work toward social and political change in a collaborative atmosphere, where artists from all walks of life come together to create a project with a singular theme. When you look at their body of work, what you see is as much about the actual history of corruption in their country as it is about themselves: born in the 80s and early 90s, tired of hearing the same old stories without seeing any change, and willing to bring their unique, contemporary styles to the table to pursue their collective dreams of seeing a corruption-free Paraguay.

After a turbulent first half of the 20th century in which Paraguay often found itself on the losing end of conflicts, with Bolivia and amongst its own parties, the struggling nation fell into the hands of a dictator, Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled from 1954 to 1989. Although the 70s and 80s were decades of expansion, just like in Chile, Argentina and Brazil, it was also a time of brutal dictatorial violence in which human rights were routinely and grossly violated in the same of national security and suppression of subversives. This environment of post-dictatorial corruption amongst political leaders projecting a supposedly renovated, civilian elected state, which was in plain reality marred by constant episodes of electoral fraud and corruption at the highest levels.

In the first seven hours of existence, the digital museum was visited 38,000 times as online media platforms began spreading the word. El Museo de la Corrupcion was launched in conjunction with the 2013 International Anti-Corruption Day observed each 9th of December.

The site is conceived and designed in line with the movement of social and political movements on social media. The interface is clean, minimalist and very easy to navigate, while the opening images are strikingly colorful, complete with captions that are concise and poignant.

The end effect is a feeling very similar to being in an actual museum, spacious, with the white walls and the room silent contemplation. They expect to have a physical site for the museum up soon, and have launched an app to access the museum and its exhibitions on mobile devices.

David Mac Cruz, one of the Museum’s illustrators, told El Mundo in October of last year that “although some of the crimes brought to life in these works can seem surreal or ironic, the intention of the Museum is not to create humor, as corruption is serious,” but rather to expose how the reality of these crimes are such that an informative portrayal of what has happened can seem exaggerated and abstract.

-Jake Sandler

Also in LADB on Feb. 11-13

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