Los Desaparecidos, 1981
ceramic with dossier of photocopied texts
National Gallery of Canada (no. 28272)
In her work, Jamelie Hassan expresses her concern for oppressed humanity throughout the world, a concern that arises from her family's experiences as immigrants. The artist attempts to assimilate in her art the impact of her own travels in foreign lands. The imagery in "Los Desaparecidos" refers to the headkerchiefs worn in silent protest by the mothers and grandmothers of those who "disappeared" in Argentina between 1976 and 1983, when the country was ruled by a military junta. The ceramic headkerchiefs become shards, parts of a shattered vessel, evoking the way families and communities are fragmented by political turmoil. Each piece contains the name and date of disappearance of an individual. Assembled on the ground in the form of a large headkerchief, the work resembles a graveyard or a refuse heap. It stands witness to the fragility of life, and at the same time, it serves as a memorial to the courage of those who have opposed unaccountable acts against humanity.