By Augusto Morel
Buenos Aires, Jul 18 (EFE).- A commemorative project by the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) has been paying homage in recent weeks to the 85 people who died in the 1994 car-bomb attack at that organization’s six-story headquarters in Buenos Aires.
Amid a lack of justice in the case, art is serving as a means of paying tribute to the deceased and creating a collective memory, Elio Kapszuk, the director of Art and Production at AMIA, the center of the Jewish community in Argentina, told Efe.
“The family members told us they have a hard time remembering their children in a joyful way. They only remember them after July 18, 1994, at 9.53 am (the precise moment of the attack),” he said.
“So we decided to change the focus – to honor them with the songs they enjoyed,” the artistic director said of the project titled “Songs to Not Forget.”
The different musical compositions were released and distributed over the past 30 days leading up to Tuesday’s 29th anniversary of the car-bomb attack.
“We asked (family members) what songs and artists moved their children, and from there we tried to get those artists to dedicate that song to each (person’s) memory. The idea was to remember them through the things they liked.”
Through the project, more than 60 acclaimed artists from Argentina were enlisted to reinterpret the favored melodies of those killed.
They included Leon Gieco, who reinterpreted the song “Cancion para Carito,” orginally recorded by folk singer Antonio Tarrago Ros.
Famed artists such as Victor Heredia and Diego Torres also reinterpreted beloved songs of the AMIA victims for this project.
Tracks such as “All My Loving” by The Beatles, which was reinterpreted by The Beats, Argentina’s most acclaimed “Fab Four” tribute band, were likewise part of the initiative.
Family members of the victims also were part of the tribute, with 45 of them recording a new rendition of “Como la Cigarra,” a song by poet and singer-songwriter Maria Elena Walsh that was released in 1973.
Made popular several years later by Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa, it became a hymn to freedom in an Argentina under the grips of the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.
COMMEMORATING THE BOMBING THROUGH URBAN ART
Kapszuk said, however, that music is only part of the effort on this anniversary to use art as a bridge to memory and a means of forging a connection with society’s collective unconscious.
“A testimony can also be a (visual) display, a physical or symbolic place of memory,” he said in reference to an AMIA exhibition hall featuring the work of Argentine urban artist Tano Veron.
Using poster board and stencil, Veron’s work combines graphic design with powerful messages such as, “I remember you and you’re here.”
“There’s a focus on diversity through the different typographies, just as the 85 victims were all different,” Kapszuk said.
He added that the sign welcoming visitors to the exhibition captures the spirit behind it: “Create memory, demand justice. The world will inexorably improve.”
“It’s an attitude toward life,” the director said. “Not only toward AMIA, but all cases in our country where impunity reigns,” the director said.
The deadliest terrorist attack in Argentina’s history, the bombing at the AMIA’s headquarters killed 85 individuals and wounded hundreds more.
Argentina – home to the largest Jewish community in Latin America – in 2016 issued an international arrest warrant for Ali Fallahian, the head of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security at the time of the bombing.
That warrant alleged that Iranian agents and operatives with Iran-backed Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group Hezbollah, under Fallahian’s direction, carried out the attack.
In 2007, Interpol issued a Red Notice for five Iranian officials, including Fallahian, and one member of Hezbollah.
Many in the Argentine Jewish community believe the AMIA bombing was ordered by Iran and carried out by Tehran’s Hezbollah allies.
Both the Iranian government and the Lebanese militia group deny any involvement. EFE