The LUM, the Peruvian museum of memory

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One always has the impression of being able to start a particular and different journey when entering a museum. When you see the LUM, the Lugar de la memoria (place of memory) lying on a falaise (cliff) of Lima’s Costa Verde, the senses are strongly stimulated: the view of the ocean, combined with the strong characteristic smell of its waters, promises a quite encouraging process.

On the first floor you start with history. The subversive groups of the Sendero Luminoso and the Movimiento Revoluzionario Tupac Amaru (MRTA) opposed the government by reaping terror and death for more than ten years. The armed groups wanted to replace the Peruvian institutions, considered “bourgeois”, with a communist farmer revolutionary regime.

The aim of the LUM is to remember, commemorate the period of violence that affected Peru during the years 1980-2000.

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The numbers of dead and desaparecidos are dizzying: about 69280 estimated victims and 8558 missing persons. There are also some recorded videos of women who fought and never surrendered, in search of missing loved ones. Women with a sculpted face and deep eyes full of sadness, but brave, tenacious and determined.

On the second floor we find the artistic works of the period. Joseph Beuys claimed that every man is an artist; and arpilleras, a contemporary folk art, is a textile technique where images, places, life scenes are recreated, events that have left a deep mark, as usually happens during periods of suffering and unhappiness. But unhappiness can also be valuable to react. The arpilleras reconstruct the period of armed conflict produced by a community of women in the province of Huaycan, a province strongly affected by that disorders.

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Remembering is an action that involves movement, transformation, negotiation, an act that evokes the past. Of course, we can not change it, but we can transform the way we remember the past in today’s present. Memories are translated, constantly reinterpreted in space and time

For the German artist the equation is valid: art=life and life=politics. This is why he thinks that every man is an artist; every human being is capable of a creative force. Observing these arpilleras there is an exact reconstruction of the events that this community has experienced: the first life in their community, the violence later and the future they dreamed of.

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Time has passed, the situation has changed, the Peruvian terrorism has been tamed, losses and desaparecidos counted (or rather estimated), the leader of the organization Abimael Guzmán imprisoned, but the viewer has a clear vision of what happened and a sense of bitterness. Also due in particular to the incapacity or bad will of the institutions to intervene better.

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