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Date: Apr 04, 2007
Hofstra Students Mark 70th Anniversary of Massacre with Unique Memorial to Victims
"Opening Windows to Gernika" to debut April 25
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY – Two Hofstra University Honors College students have created a multimedia exhibit on the memory of the massacre at Gernika during the Spanish Civil War, an incident that inspired the famous Picasso painting “Guernica.”
The exhibit, an interactive DVD including audio interviews with survivors of the bombing, will be on view at the Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library in April and May. An opening reception will be held on April 25, one day before the 70th anniversary of the attacks
The reception features keynote speaker Professor Sally Charnow, a performance of The Guernica Trio by Spanish composer Octavio Vasquez, a viewing of student painting Guernica by Patrick Anglin, and an introduction to the exhibit by creators Matthew Ferry and Michael LaFemina.
The bombing of Guernica was a massacre of hundreds of innocent civilians and 70 years later, the effects it had on the Basque people are still being felt. The event inspired Pablo Picasso to commemorate the dead and the attack with an immense black and white mural measuring eleven-and-one-half-foot tall and almost twenty-six feet wide. Painted in oil, Picasso dubbed the mural “Guernica.”
In December, Matthew Ferry and Michael, with the collaborative assistance of the Hofstra University Museum, the Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library and Hofstra Honors College, traveled to Spain where they did original research - interviewing survivors of the bombing, citizens of Gernika, visitors to the town, and artists, in addition to meeting with the director of the Gernika Peace Museum and the director of the Gernika Gogoratuz research center.
“This project began as a final project to a seminar on history and memory. Our original intent was to capture the memories of a generation afflicted by a bombing during the Spanish Civil War and nearly forty years of dictatorship,” said Michael. “However, after traveling to Spain and interviewing a number of people, we realized that there were other important questions that were begging to be asked.”
Some of those questions that Michael and Matthew sought to answer with this project are:
- How does memory survive the oppressive censorship of a dictator?
- What do survivors remember?
- How has Picasso’s “Guernica” become a way to remember this piece of Spanish history, specifically for those with no cultural or personal connection to the events that transpired?
Their DVD exhibition (developed and mounted with guidance from the Hofstra University Museum) explores these questions with a multimedia expression that juxtaposes various pathways to history while focusing on the roles of memory and art as windows to the past.
“By gathering a collection of shared experiences, we hope that this exhibit contains various perspectives and memories of the bombing of Gernika, the Spanish Civil War, and the dictatorship under Franco,” said Matthew. “Our hope is that this project allows those who have no connection with the events and this society to look through these windows and find a connection.”
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