The College of Marin (COM) Library is honored to host Giuseppe Dezza: Beyond the Image, a photography exhibit by Fairfax artist Giuseppe Dezza on display from October 16 through December 21. An opening reception will be held on Tuesday, October 16, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Learning Resources Center, second floor.
Although the Civil War in El Salvador (1979-1992) happened decades ago, the repercussions are still being felt today. Cosponsored by the Canal Welcome Center, this exhibit captures moments from El Salvador’s history between 1990 and 1996.
Dezza volunteered to go to El Salvador in 1990 as part of the non-governmental Human Rights Commission (CDHES) and a shield program initiated with Marin Interfaith Task Force to document human rights abuses and diminish the possibility of the military repressing commission members.
Prior to his arrival in El Salvador, photography was a hobby he enjoyed but according to Dezza, his experience there is what made him a photographer.
“I always liked photography, but I became ‘a photographer’ there,” said Dezza. “It was literally my way of translating my passion, my belief, my intention, into an action.”
Dezza and other volunteers were going to places most people wouldn’t go during that time in El Salvador. Dealing with the impact the war had on families—their pain and suffering—left a lasting emotional mark on his life. This is visible in his photographs, as they stimulate thoughts about poverty and war and the intertwining of compassion, art, and resistance.
Admitting that what he witnessed was harsh and crude, he believes in the socio-political, cultural, and historical value of the images. His original intent was showing what he saw without pretending to present the truth about El Salvador. The images simply tell his story as he experienced it.
As far as specific techniques, Dezza favors using a 50mm lens because it forces the photographer to get close to their subject.
“You’ve got to get close, you’ve got to be there, you’ve got to smell it, you had to see it, you had to feel it,” says Dezza. “And that definitely was, and is, part of my relationship with photography. Generally speaking, that was part of the beauty of this work, if you want to call it beauty, was to be in the midst of it.”
He hopes people who see the exhibit can get a sense of solidarity and be stimulated to think beyond the image itself—to get into the depth of the images and maybe have a second of reflection about war, poverty, the human condition, and the contradictions in life.
“I hope people go away with a sense of humanity; maybe their hearts and their minds a little more open.”
The exhibit is part of a semester-long inquiry, Eyes of Compassion: War, Immigration, and Transformation, which seeks to foster greater understanding of the connections between violence and immigration while celebrating the transforming effect of education. The exhibit’s opening coincides with the California Community Colleges Undocumented Student Week of Action, October 15-19.
Following the mid-term elections, the College welcomes back an esteemed alumnus for the poetry reading and talk “Javier Zamora: Poetry As Resistance.” All are welcome to attend this event held Wednesday, November 7, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Fusselman Hall, room 120. Javier Zamora was born in El Salvador during the Civil War and both his parents immigrated to the United States from El Salvador due to the war. More information is available online at library.marin.edu.