Meet Ernesto Salmerón, a Nicaraguan artist exploring the legacy of revolution in his country. ‘I was interested in understanding my own society’, says the artist. ‘[But] there’s no one way to understand Nicaraguan history.’
Ernesto Salmerón trained as a filmmaker and documentary photographer before turning to other forms of art including sculpture.
‘Auras of War’ 1996-2006 explores the Nicaraguan revolution. The work is made up of a truck, a section of concrete wall, video and other materials.
‘The whole thing started with a photograph of graffiti with an image of Augusto Calderón Sandino’, explains Salmerón. ‘He was used as an icon for a new revolutionary movement in the 1970s.’
After learning that the attached building was to be demolished, Salmerón excavated the graffiti in 2006 and installed it into the back of a former military truck.
A relic of the revolution, the truck was sent by the German Democratic Republic to Nicaragua in support of the Sandinistas’ socialist cause. ‘This truck is a testimony to political conflict’, says Salmerón.
Now exhibited in public spaces like Tate Modern, the wall and truck have travelled great distances from their original contexts. They raise questions about the revolutionary ideas they symbolise and how those ideas move and transform over time.
19 July marks Nicaragua Liberation Day when the Sandinista National Liberation Front overthrew a dictatorship regime, replacing it with a form of socialist government. Some of its leaders remain in power today.
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