While Jan Banning’s “Bureaucratics” may be the most delightful contribution to “Moving Walls 17,” at the Open Society Institute, Mç’s is arguably the most courageous. Her long-term project “File 126 (Disappearing in the Caucasus)” documents a decade of abductions in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan, believed to be largely the work of military and security forces.
Overwhelmed by the magnitude and impenetrability of the human-rights abuses in the North Caucasus, Bastashevski feared that reading through hundreds of files would only leave her numb. She used photography not only to draw attention to the countless abductions, most of which have never been investigated, but to acknowledge the human beings behind the paperwork. Taken inside the homes of the abducted, her pictures juxtapose intimacy and atrocity: “The relatives would explain what happened on the day of the abductions—then ask me to tea.” Bastashevski told me. “It has become part of their normality.”
As for courage, Bastashevski said that she’s been detained and questioned dozens of times in the past year. “I’m almost comfortable with it,” she said, but it’s “merely an occupational hazard compared to the risks that human-rights advocates and journalists in the region put themselves in daily.”
The exhibition is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., through February 11, 2011, at 400 West 59th Street.
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