The Silver and the Cross

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« The work examines the painting Depiction of the Cerro Rico and the Imperial City of Potos by Gaspar Miguel des Berrio, 1758. On the silver mountain one sees workers in the most diverse formations, but one cannot find a gallery entrance. The mitayos, the forced laborers, often came from villages a few hundred kilometers away from Potosi; the journey there often lasted a month and they had to stay there for a year – that’s why they brought along their families and their livestock. The pictures show the housing of the workers, but no women, children, or livestock. One can see a courtyard building, where the workers receive their wage, and in front a small street market where beverages are sold. But one cannot distinguish between the free workers and the forced laborers; « it seems reasonable to assume that an event as important as the discovery of America ought to be mentioned somwhere in the holy sculptures. » Todorov cites this sentence, and it seems reasonable to me to assume that an event such as the largest genocide in history ought to be mentioned somewhere in the picture.  » – Harun Farocki


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