30 August is the International Day of the Disappeared – a commemoration of those who have been secretly abducted, imprisoned and murdered by repressive regimes and organisations around the world. The most notorious disappearances took place in Chile and Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s – it has been estimated that around 20,000 people were disappeared in Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’ alone – but instances have been reported in conflicts from Guatemala to Northern Ireland. Lauren Sapikowski, a student at the London Consortium, joined me to talk about her study of artworks memorialising the disappeared. Lauren is particularly interested in the Colombian artist Doris Salcedo (best known in this country for her Shibboleth at Tate Modern in 2007-8), and her deeply personal works evoking the desaparecidos of South American narco-politics. One of the great joys of London’s academic life is that one can encounter people like Lauren – an American scholar, based at an innovative, interdisciplinary institution, studying the ways in which works of art have become implicated in collective healing and the politics of memory at a global level.
You can listen to & download the podcast using the embedded player below, or (if you prefer) you can go straight to the Sick City Project page on Soundcloud. This is the fourth in a regular series of podcasts, in which I explore the history, literature, art and science of medicine in London (and occasionally further abroad). Keep an ear out for future talks on Florence Nightingale and the uses of bones.