“Sacred Violence: Torture, Terror, and Sovereignty” by Paul Kahn

by kris bishop on September 29, 2008

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: The cover of our controversial new book Sacred Violence: Torture, Terror, and Soveriegnty, by Paul Kahn, boasts a work of art called “Abu Ghraib” by Columbian artist Fernando Botero. Author Paul Kahn writes from the controversial perspective that although we as Americans despise torture on the “civilized” level, we cannot escape a deeper fascination and dependence on it in the face of the War on Terror (check out Kahn’s guest author blog entry “Who Are We?”) and Botero’s art supports this deep, disturbing realization, making for a similarly powerful and thought-provoking cover.

Abu_ghraib_4Abu_ghraib_1Abu_ghraib_5Fernando Botero Angulo (born April 19, 1932 in Medellín, Antioquia) is a Colombian neo-figurative artist, self-titled “the most Colombian of Colombian artists” early on, coming to prominence when he won the first prize at the Salón de Artistas Colombianos in 1959. Botero tends to primarily focus on situational portraiture. His paintings and sculptures are, on first examination, noted for their exaggerated proportions and the corpulence of the human figures and animal figures. The “fat people” is what they are often called by critics. Botero explains his use of obese figures and forms as such: “An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it.”



In early 2005, Botero revealed a series of 50 paintings that graphically represent the controversial Abu Ghraib incident, expressing the rage and shock that the incident provoked in the artist. The works were initially presented at the Palazzo Venezia in Rome, and later in Germany and Greece. In October 2006, they were displayed at the Marlborough Gallery in New York City, their first showing in the United States. They were exhibited at The Center for Latin American Studies at the University of California in Berkeley in the spring of 2007. The Abu Ghraib series was then presented in Washington, DC at the American University Museum until December 2007. Botero has stated that he does not plan to sell the paintings, but instead intends to donate them to museums as a reminder of the events depicted within. [Text from Wikipedia.]


Kahn_highres_2 For more information, check out Paul Kahn’s guest blog entry Who Are We? or read more about Sacred Violence on our Press page. For more information on Fernando Botero, check out the Marlboro Gallery page.

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