Tate Modern

Ernesto Salmerón Until 11 August 2019

Turbine Hall Level 1
Ernesto Salmeron, ‘Auras of War’ 1996–2006
Ernesto Salmeron, Auras of War 1996–2006. Tate. © Ernesto Salmeron

Ernesto Salmerón poses questions about the political functions of public space as well as the legacies of revolution

In this work, Salmerón has transported a wall and a military truck from Nicaragua.

Ernesto Salmerón trained as a filmmaker and documentary photographer. He began his multiyear project Auras of War in 1996 to document and artistically intervene into what he called ‘Nicaraguan revolutionary public space’. While photographing around the country he was particularly interested in an adobe wall in the city of Granada. The wall showed a defaced image of the early twentieth-century revolutionary leader, Augusto C. Sandino. Identifiable by his wide-brimmed hat, Sandino became a popular icon for the later Sandinista movement. The Sandinista National Liberation Front had overthrown a dictatorship regime in Nicaragua in 1979, replacing it with a form of socialist government. Some of its leaders remain in power today. In 2006, after learning the building was to be demolished, Salmerón had the wall excavated. It has since traveled extensively as part of the Auras of War project. This marks its first exhibition in London.

The wall has been featured in exhibitions in Nicaragua, where it was closed for its political content, El Salvador, and at the 2007 Venice Biennale. After its first showing in Nicaragua, the wall was permanently installed into the back of a former military truck. Another relic of the revolution, this truck was sent by the German Democratic Republic to Nicaragua in support of the Sandinistas’ socialist cause. It was later converted for commercial use. The wall and truck have travelled a great distance from their original contexts and are now placed in well-populated public spaces. They suggest the uncertain outcomes of political revolutions. Their presence raises questions about the revolutionary ideas they symbolise, how those ideas live and die, moving and transforming over time.

Curated by Michael Wellen with Fiontán Moran


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