Eduardo Villanes is an artist in Peru who used Gloria® evaporated milk shipping cartons in a series of artworks. (Note: the panel above right unfolds to reveal silk-screened artwork on right…)
Gloria Evaporada (Evaporated Glory) is a series I made in 1994 and 1995, during the regime of Fujimori, in those years I was attending the National School of Fine Arts. The series is about the kidnapping and execution of ten people by Grupo Colina, a paramilitary group, a case known as the Cantuta Case.
Gloria is a brand of canned evaporated milk that is distributed in cardboard boxes. The logo on the box reads Gloria leche evaporada (Gloria evaporated milk). During the 90s this box was an everyday object reused in many ways: to dispose trash, as a baby crate and by street vendors to sell goods.
On June 1994 the charred remains of ten people were returned to their families by the government. Months before a paramilitary group kidnapped, executed and charred them to ashes using kerosene. As an act of contempt the remains were returned in cardboard boxes, most of them of Gloria milk.
On June 14th 1995 the regime issued the Amnesty Law, setting free the paramilitaries that were sentenced to prison for this and other crimes. On the dawn of June 17th I made a collage on a wall of a central highway in Lima, next to the National Stadium, using spray glue and cutouts from Gloria boxes to write the word EVAPORADOS (EVAPORATED).
On June 23rd I organized a collective performance: I covered my head with a box of Gloria milk and invited passer-byers to do the same and march towards the Congress to protest the Amnesty Law. The boxes had the phrase “evaporated milk” changed to “evaporated people”. The boxes were thrown in front of the Congress building.
I like Villanes’s idea of using these branded, culturally-loaded packages in protest/performance. Gloria’s brand name and product name certainly lent themselves to these other meanings.
Having its product packaging reused to contain the remains of murder victims must have been a public-relations nightmare for the manufacturer. They were not complicit in the murders, and yet their brand’s image would now be associated with a horrifying new way in which its packaging could be “reused.” (See also: Packaging & Moral Turpitude)
One purpose of packaging is to conceal, but using these boxes as masks seems to cut both ways. Masks are sometimes worn by paramilitary thugs who wish to conceal their identities. Masks are sometimes be worn by protesters who wish to conceal their identities.
(One more photo, after the fold…)
We’ll have some more packaging-related artwork by Eduardo Villanes next week…