Web Exclusive: Full Botero Interview in English

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An Interview with Fernando Botero

by Rose Marie Berger

In November 2007 Fernando Botero visited the American University Museum in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the first showing anywhere of the complete 179 piece collection of his Abu Ghraib paintings and drawings. He was interviewed by Sojourners associate editor Rose Marie Berger about the religious and political implications of art.

Berger: I want to read one quote from Marc Falkoff who is one of the attorneys working with the Guantanamo prisoners. He made a comment about this art exhibit…

Botero: He came here and saw it?

Berger: He saw the artwork online and allowed us to include poems from Guantanamo prisoners in the poetry collection Cut Loose the Body: An Anthology of Poems Responding to Torture and Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib Paintings. “In this wonderful project,” writes human rights attorney Marc Falkoff, editor of Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak, “Botero and the poets begin to restore our humanity by making the victims of our complacency visible to us. We live in age in which our leaders have declared—in our names—that simulated drowning is not torture, that detainee suicides are ‘acts of asymmetric warfare,’ and that our prison camps are beyond the reach of our courts. In times like these, we must rely on art—the great vehicle for empathy—to restore to us our innate compassion ... and to move us toward protest and engagement.” Do you think these paintings confront or they evoke compassion?

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Sojourners Magazine February 2008
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