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So That All Shall Know/Para que todos lo sepan

So That All Shall Know/Para que todos lo sepan
Photographs by Daniel Hernández-Salazar [Fotografías de Daniel Hernández-Salazar]

A comprehensive overview of the work of Guatemalan photographer Daniel Hernández-Salazar, whose work confronts the horrors of war and the need to remember and redress injustice.

May 2007
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184 pages | 10 x 8 1/4 | 82 color photos |

How does an artist respond to the horrors of war and the genocide of his or her people? Can art play a role in the fight for justice? These are key questions for understanding the work of Guatemalan photographer Daniel Hernández-Salazar. Since the 1980s, Hernández-Salazar has created both documentary and aesthetic works that confront the state-sponsored terrorism and mass killings of Guatemala's long civil war (1962-1996). His photographic polyptych (4-panel image) "Clarification" became the icon for the Recovery of Historical Memory project of the Archbishopric of Guatemala, as well as a rallying symbol for Guatemalans. Broadening his crusade for justice in the twenty-first century, Hernández-Salazar is now also using the shouting angel of his polyptych (entitled "So That All Shall Know") to challenge the forgetting and/or erasure of painful history in many parts of the world, including Mexico, Japan, the United States, Canada, and Argentina.

So That All Shall Know is a powerful, comprehensive overview of the work of Daniel Hernández-Salazar on recent Guatemalan history. Portfolios of images present his early photojournalistic work documenting the Guatemalan genocide; his Eros + Thanatos series that responds aesthetically to the destruction of war; and his Street Angel project, which uses his image "So That All Shall Know" to protest against injustice and historical forgetting around the world. Accompanying the images are bilingual English-Spanish essays by four scholars who discuss the development of Hernández-Salazar's art in the context of contemporary photography, the social and political conditions that inspire his work, and the broader questions that arise when artists engage in social struggle.

Introduced by Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum, So That All Shall Know is a moving testament to the horrors of genocide and the power of art to give voice to the silenced and presence to the disappeared.


International Latino Book AwardsLatino Literacy NowHonorable Mention - Best Arts Book AAUP Book, Jacket and Journal Show:Association of American University PressesTrade Illustrated

  • Foreword: The Vantage Point of Memory / Prólogo: El mirador de la memoria (Rigoberta Menchú Tum)
  • Introduction / Presentación (Oscar Iván Maldonado)
  • Angels, Conquests, and Memory / Ángeles, conquistas y memoria (W. George Lovell)
  • Portfolio: Daniel Hernández-Salazar, Photojournalist / Daniel Hernández-Salazar, fotoperiodista
  • Icon of Memory / Icono para la memoria (Miguel Flores Castellanos)
  • Portfolio: Eros + Thanatos
  • Daniel Hernández-Salazar, Postmodern Humanist / Daniel Hernández-Salazar, un humanista posmoderno (Michael A. Weinstein)
  • Portfolio: Memory of an Angel / Memoria de un ángel
  • Photography, Urban Space, and the Historical Memory of Atrocity: The Angel Series / Fotografía, espacio urbano y la memoria histórica de la atrocidad: La serie del ángel (Steven Hoelscher)
  • Biographies / Biografías

Oscar Iván Maldonado has worked closely with Daniel Hernández-Salazar on several cultural projects, including the concert "Cien campanas para la Paz" ("One hundred bells for peace"), which commemorated the first anniversary of the Guatemalan peace accords. A resident of Guatemala City, Maldonado is currently Senior Conservation Scientist at The Nature Conservancy.


Years pass. They pile up like pages in a book.
Everything goes unpunished. I have to scream.

—Daniel Hernández-Salazar, Memoria de un ángel [Exhibition text]

In 1993, Daniel Hernández-Salazar asked me to write a text to accompany his photo exhibit Rostros de la Música (Faces of Music). It was a show of portraits of traditional musicians from different ethnomusical regions in Guatemala. I was already familiar with Daniel and his work, but writing this text allowed me to delve deeper into his oeuvre and get a better grasp of the principles upon which his artistic work is founded. Two features of Daniel's work impressed me: first, his rigor for recording facts and personalities; and second, his commitment to documenting key moments in Guatemala. What I did not mention at the time, something I still find striking, is the dignity that Daniel captured in the persons he photographed. His portraiture bestowed on each musician the dignity that marginalization and oblivion had wrested from them.

More than a decade on, I realize that restoring dignity to people whom circumstances have marginalized and forgotten is a primordial concern that drives Daniel's work. I allude not only to his series on traditional musicians but also to his entire work, including what he has achieved in photojournalism. Ever since I have known him, I have appreciated his work intimately and understand his concern for making artistic creation a factor in social change. I find it natural for him, therefore, to shift from art galleries to public spaces and from decorative aesthetics to the truth as his central theme. Although many people observe a certain harshness in Daniel's current work, its beauty endures. His work is charged with the beauty of truth, as Gordon Nary noted when honoring Daniel with the Jonathan Mann Humanitas Award in recognition of the humanity of his work.

His eight years as a photojournalist, mostly in the violent 1980s, awakened Daniel's consciousness about the tragedy of war, especially when the victims are civilians and the victimizers those supposed to protect them. The fruit of those years is by no means merely the extensive photographic collection portraying the suffering of Guatemala and Guatemalans. Rather, it is his concrete commitment to reporting the truth about suffering, to demonstrating that pain is not anonymous: it always has a face and a name. Daniel sticks tenaciously to this commitment, converting it into artistic production. Rigoberta Menchú Tum was among the first to acknowledge the essence of this craft. "Thank you," the Nobel laureate wrote at the bottom of a portrait Daniel made of her, "for your friendship and your contribution to the just cause." Rigoberta's portrait hangs on the wall of Daniel's studio, a reminder of his ongoing commitment.

This commitment and the aesthetic form it takes are what inspired me to put this book together. The book is not a comprehensive compilation of Daniel's work, nor is it meant to be. What it does is follow Daniel through much of his creative trajectory, one spanning two decades, beginning with his photojournalistic output and ending with his public space installations and actions, including the mutilation and fragmentation of reproductions of his work that had been used to represent, once again, the tragedy of war.

The book has three main objectives. The first, deeply embedded in Daniel's creative and professional motivation, is to dignify the more than two hundred thousand victims of the armed conflict and to denounce the horrors of war so that they will not happen again. It would be impossible and unfair, Daniel maintains, to forget so much pain and suffering or to aspire to build a new and better country by turning away from the truth. Second, the book seeks to make visible the Guatemalan holocaust and to place it among other world tragedies: Guatemala's conflict, which targeted primarily the poorest and least privileged, received scant attention from the international community. As conflicts elsewhere fill today's headlines, Guatemala's war and its traumatic aftermath seem even less newsworthy, almost invisible. Daniel's installation of his Angel icon reminds us that whether in a Chuj Maya community in Guatemala's remote northwestern highlands or in Hiroshima, the pain of war is universal. And third, the book develops Rigoberta Menchú Tum's acknowledgment of an artist who remains true to the "just cause" of reconfiguring history, understanding the truth, and so glimpsing the future. For this reason, Daniel Hernández-Salazar is among the most renowned and influential artists in Guatemalan and Central American photography.

Poignant, frank, and moving, Daniel's work is often difficult to frame. Four scholars, with four different perspectives, help us to situate Daniel and his work in historical, political, geographical, and artistic contexts. George Lovell, with his characteristic balance between academic rigor and poetic expression, juxtaposes his sightings of Daniel's polyptych Clarification and a panorama of Guatemala based on Eduardo Galeano's epic trilogy Memory of Fire. Miguel Flores Castellanos explores the links between Daniel's current work and early Central American photography, his previous activities as a photojournalist and commercial photographer, and the controversies that charge contemporary photography. From his viewpoint as an analyst of art and politics, Michael Weinstein examines Daniel's series Eros + Thanatos in the context of postmodernity and of a globalized world. Finally, historical memory and the importance of remembering form the basis of Steven Hoelscher's analysis of Daniel's installations in public spaces, set against the backdrop of a postconflict social landscape.

So That All Shall Know is perhaps the most emblematic image of all Daniel's work. He was inspired to use this title by Monsignor Juan Gerardi, who had proposed it for the human rights report ultimately entitled Guatemala: Never Again. Depicting an angel who breaks the silence with a shout, So That All Shall Know is a reminder of the commitment shared by Daniel and the murdered bishop: to reveal the truth as an act of liberation.

Los años pasan. Se apilan como páginas de un libro.
Todo queda impune. Tengo que gritarlo.

—Daniel Hernández-Salazar, Memoria de un ángel [Texto de exposición]

Hace poco más de diez años, en 1993, Daniel Hernández-Salazar me pidió escribir el texto del catálogo que acompañaría su exposición fotográfica Rostros de la música, una serie de retratos de músicos tradicionales de diversas regiones etno-musicales de Guatemala. A pesar que conocía a Daniel y su obra desde algunos años antes, escribir ese texto me dio la oportunidad de adentrarme en su trabajo y conocer a profundidad los principios sobre los cuales fundamenta su creación artística. Dije entonces que me impresionaban dos cosas de su trabajo fotográfico: por un lado, el rigor con el cual registra hechos y personajes, y por otro, su compromiso por documentar lo que va marcando las épocas en Guatemala. Lo que no dije en ese momento, pero que me impresionó y aún me impresiona, fue la dignidad que Daniel hacía resaltar en los personajes que fotografiaba. En cierta forma, esa exposición devolvía a cada músico la dignidad que la marginación y el olvido les habían robado.

Hoy, una década después, me doy cuenta que devolver la dignidad a las personas a quienes las circunstancias han marginado y olvidado es una preocupación central que motiva la obra de Daniel. No me refiero simplemente a su serie sobre músicos tradicionales, sino a toda su obra, incluyendo su trabajo en fotoperiodismo. A lo largo del tiempo que he acompañado a Daniel—cerca de quince años, he conocido a fondo su trabajo y entendido su preocupación por hacer de su creación artística un agente de cambio social. No es casual para mí, entonces, que él cambie las galerías por los espacios públicos, y la estética decorativa por la verdad como tema de trabajo. A pesar que muchos encuentran cierta crudeza en la obra actual de Daniel, la obra es, no obstante, bella. Guarda la belleza de la verdad, como bien dijera Gordon Nary al otorgarle el Premio Jonathan Mann por el contenido humano en su trabajo artístico.

Ocho años en el campo del fotoperiodismo, principalmente en los años ochenta (la época más dura de la violencia política en Guatemala), permitieron a Daniel tomar conciencia de la tragedia de la guerra, principalmente cuando las víctimas son civiles y los victimarios las personas que supuestamente debían protegerlos. El principal resultado de esos años dedicados a la captura de imágenes no es en absoluto el extenso archivo fotográfico sobre el sufrimiento de muchos guatemaltecos que Daniel conserva.

Más que eso, es la consolidación de un compromiso por divulgar la verdad de ese sufrimiento y por mostrar que el dolor humano no es anónimo: tiene cara, nombre y apellido. Tercamente, Daniel ha abrazado ese compromiso y lo ha convertido en obra. Rigoberta Menchú Tum fue una de las primeras personas en reconocérselo. "Gracias-escribió la laureada Nóbel al pie del retrato que Daniel le tomó—por su amistad y su contribución a la causa justa." Ese retrato cuelga hoy en el estudio de Daniel como recordatorio de ese compromiso.

Ambos, el compromiso y la forma estética que adquiere la obra de Daniel, son las motivaciones principales que inspiraron la edición de este libro. Aunque no se pretende exhaustivo en toda la creación artística de Daniel, sí recorre gran parte de su trayectoria creativa, cerca de veinte años, desde el fotoperiodismo hasta las instalaciones y acciones en espacios públicos, pasando por la fragmentación y mutilación de su obra física, con la cual representa—una vez más, la desaventura de la guerra.

La idea de este libro se basó desde su origen con tres grandes propósitos. El primero de ellos, arraigado a los motivos de la obra de Daniel, es dignificar a las más de 200,000 víctimas del conflicto armado y denunciar los horrores de la guerra para que éstos no vuelvan a ocurrir. No es posible ni justo, dice el mismo Daniel al respecto, que tanto dolor humano sea echado al olvido, ni pretender construir un nuevo y mejor país dando la espalda a la verdad. Así mismo, este libro tiene el propósito de hacer visible el dolor del holocausto guatemalteco entre otras tragedias mundiales. Desde sus inicios, la crudeza del conflicto guatemalteco orientada principalmente hacia los más pobres y marginados, captó una escuálida atención de la comunidad internacional. Con nuevos conflictos ocupando hoy las primeras planas de los periódicos, la guerra de Guatemala y sus menoscabos sobre la población civil han pasado a segundo plano, si no es que se han hecho invisibles. La instalación a través del mundo del icono del ángel que Daniel creó, nos recuerda que ya sea en una aldea Maya-Chuj del altiplano noroccidental guatemalteco o en Hiroshima, el dolor de la guerra es universal.

Finalmente, pero no por eso menos importante, el libro se une a ese reconocimiento y compromiso que Rigoberta Menchú Tum hiciera, hace algunos años, a un artista que sigue hoy en día aferrado a "la causa justa" de recrear la historia, entender la verdad y sobre ellas, vislumbrar el futuro. Esa, estoy seguro, es una de las razones por las cuales Daniel se ha convertido hoy en día en uno de los artistas más conocidos e influyentes en la fotografía de Guatemala y América Central.

Cruda, directa y conmovedora, la obra de Daniel no es siempre fácil de presentar. Es por eso que en esta empresa se unen cuatro intelectuales quienes, desde sus propias perspectivas, nos ayudan a situar a Daniel y su obra en los ámbitos histórico, artístico, político y geográfico. George Lovell, con su característico balance de rigor académico y lenguaje poético, entremezcla sus impresiones sobre el políptico de Daniel Esclarecimiento, al mismo tiempo que ofrece una reseña histórica de Guatemala basada en la trilogía épica de Eduardo Galeano, Memorias del fuego. Miguel Flores Castellanos explora los vínculos entre el trabajo actual de Daniel y la fotografía pionera centroamericana, su desempeño profesional como fotoperiodista y fotógrafo publicitario, y los debates existentes en la fotografía contemporánea. Desde su doble enfoque de analista de arte y analista político, Michael Weinstein presenta un análisis de la serie de Daniel Eros + Thanatos en el contexto de la posmodernidad y de un mundo globalizado. Finalmente, la memoria histórica y la importancia de recordar sirven de base para el análisis que Steven Hoeschler hace sobre la obra de Daniel en espacios públicos dentro del escabroso paisaje social de la posguerra.

Para que todos lo sepan se ha convertido tal vez en la obra más emblemática de Daniel Hernández-Salazar. La llamó así tomando el nombre que Monseñor Juan Gerardi había sugerido originalmente para el informe Guatemala: Nunca más sobre las violaciones a los derechos humanos durante el conflicto armado. Representando un ángel que grita y rompe el silencio, Para que todos lo sepan recuerda también el compromiso compartido entre Daniel y el asesinado obispo: hacer de la verdad una acción liberadora.


“Daniel Hernández-Salazar has geared his talents to capturing the links between memory and the dignity of victims and survivors of genocide. . . . As a visual and aesthetic synthesis of [the report] Guatemala: Never Again, Daniel has willed us an angel with wings of bone that is simultaneously four and one, a faithful witness and prophet that soars from the mass graves to tell the world that memory is also a seed of the future.”
Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Laureate for Peace


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