2017-2019 // fictional archive
Index cards: Acrylic glass prints / 30 x 30 cm. // Motives: paintings, drawings, posters, sketches and objects / variable sizes // vhs-videos and super 8-films / variable durations.
“Anónimo” is the name for an artist figure about whom hardly anything is known. Only his artistic work, which has reappeared in parts, allows conclusions to be drawn about a historical period in which Peru was ruled by a cruel terrorist regime. The artworks fictionally document the violent seizure of power by the ultra-Maoist guerrilla group “Shining Path” (“Sendero Luminoso”) in 1990 and the subsequent four-year reign.
The story of this reign of terror, which historically never took place, is told through an archive about an anonymous artist. The archive is formed by presenting his artworks in the context of these events. The “Angkar Archive Organization”, a group of fictional researchers and collectors, has methodically compiled and interpreted some of the artworks found and created a catalogue from index cards. The archive becomes the hub of questioning about the past, where drawings, paintings, objects, and film footage are interrogated for their historical significance. The resulting catalogue of index cards attempts to clarify the origin of the respective artworks by telling us their possible (hi)stories.
Introduction to the Angkar Archive:
Gonzalo H. Rodríguez, Director of the AAO
The Angkar Archive Organization (AAO) consists of artists, cultural researchers, and historians analyzing, managing, and extending “The Angkar Archive.” This archive is based on the items used and the artworks made by “Anónimo,” an anonymous artist who lived during the People’s Republic of Peru.
The People’s Republic of Peru is the name for the regime of the Shining Path in Peru between 1990 and 1994, Informally, it was also known as the “Shining Path’s Regime”, or the “Peruvian Angkar” in reference to the Pol Pot-Regime in Cambodia. To give you more context I will try to resume some historical events which derived from the Shining Path’s regime.
The story of the Shining Path begins with “Comrade Gonzalo” (later called “Chairman Gonzalo”). Comrade Gonzalo was a university professor of philosophy who in the year 1970, alongside a group of twelve Comrades in the remote Andean province of Ayacucho, founded the Shining Path, an ultra-Maoist split of the Peruvian Communist Party.
Following the example of the Chinese Revolution, “Gonzalo” and his group demanded the rest of the Communist Party to immediate action in order to start the armed struggle against the corrupt state and revisionism. As a disciple of Mao Tsetung, “Comrade Gonzalo” made a trip to China where he met Mao’s wife Jiang Qing and the rest of the Gang of Four. The radicality and recklessness of Jiang Qing and his admiration for Mao and his Cultural Revolution inspired “Gonzalo” to take action and start the armed struggle on his own.
In 1980, in a small town of Ayacucho, the Shining Path symbolically declared the war against both the Peruvian State and revisionism by burning ballot boxes and hanging several dead dogs in the streetlights of Peru’s capital Lima. Each of them holding a stick of dynamite and a board with the message “Deng Xiao Ping, son of a bitch!”
The beginning of the armed struggle between the Maoist group and the Peruvian state was also the beginning of the bloodiest era the Andean country had ever experienced. By the end of the eighties, the armed struggle had claimed more than seventy thousand lives, and billions of dollars were needed to repair the immense material damages. To make things worst, the country was bankrupt.
While the Berlin Wall was falling and the world was witnessing the fall of the Soviet Union, the Shining Path achieved military parity with the Peruvian State and was preparing to seize power. To this point “Gonzalo” was no longer called “Comrade” but “Chairman Gonzalo,” which is the name we also chose to name him in our archive. And the destiny of Peru started to look more like the Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge than the communist paradise promised by the Peruvian Maoists. But the worst was just about to come.
What happened next is what we have learned through the artwork of “Anónimo.” This work contains paintings, drawings, posters, sketches, photographs, films, and videos archived by our organization. The material has been organized in card indexes by their possible date of origin and their date of entry in the archive’s catalogue. In order to place the material within a historical timeline, each card index shows an artwork accompanied by a legend text. The text describes the works by explaining the historical context at the time of their creation, the probable role played by “Anónimo” within that context and his possible artistic intentions. With this arrangement we have been able to find a narrative of “Anónimo’s” life within the referred historical period. Although, many facts of his life are not clear yet.
Like with archeological discoveries, we can only make interpretations of the compilated personal items and art pieces as if it were a puzzle, where each piece slowly completes the picture of this anonymous artist who lived during the “Peruvian Angkar” His remained art works were found by members of the US-Army and were donated to our organization for free. On this respect, the US-Army stated that it was impossible for them to classify or find any historical, artistical or economical value in this material.
So when we started to index the material in 2015 we knew almost nothing about the artist behind it. Not even his name, gender or age. We called him “Anónimo”, which is the name he used to sign some of his works, and assumed he was a man because the gender of the word “anónimo” in Spanish is masculine.
Today, after many years of research we have been able to elucidate many aspects of “Anónimo’s” life during the Peruvian Angkar. It is still difficult for us to establish one single authorship in some of the pieces contained in our archive. Although, all pieces can give us at least some hints about the artist’s life. These hints come to an abrupt end with his final disappearance during the international military intervention in Peru on Saturday, 19th of February, 1994.
After this event, we know nothing more about “Anónimo.” We assume that he died at this point in time. The fact is that any further recordings of his life ended here.
Lettrétage, Berlin, 2019:
bunker k101, Köln, 2019: