The Slaughterhouse

by Kathy Aron

The beef industry is an enormous and important business in Argentina. As such, animal rights and working condi­tions are rarely questioned. But when Paula Luttringer sees fear in the animals eyes and the horror of the slaughter, she is reminded of her past. Luttringer's exhi­bition, The Slaughterhouse, at the Houston Community College Art Gallery was one of the most meaningful, thought-provok­ing exhibitions mounted for FotoFest.

As a young woman, Paula was one of thousands of innocent Argentines who were kidnapped by the government and secretly imprisoned during the country's civil war of the late 19703. Like slaughter­house procedures, the "Dirty War" wasan undeniably atrocious set of events that most would rather not know about. Although she is visibly uncomfortable going into any detail about her incarcer­ation, she does point out the close asso­ciation between the frightened, caged cattle in the slaughterhouse and herself. "When you are imprisoned, the only war you can fight is in your mind. ... The project was a way to reorganize thoughts and deal with the memory."

Her carbon prints are beautiful, full of depth and texture, yet simultaneously grotesque due to the difficult theme. Blood-stained walls, limbs suspended from meat hooks and frightened cattle are inherently difficult to look at. But it is this delicate juxtaposition of technique and subject matter that have created a truly engaging and important body of work.

Luttringer, who now lives in France, only recently left her career as a gemolo-gist to pursue photography. Her technical skill and deep, intuitive nature earns her a career worth following. Kudos to the FotoFest collaborators for bringing this emerging artist and her work to our atten­tion. This is the kind of photography that galvanizes the medium.
= •Kathy Aron is director of the Society for Contemporary Photography in Kansas City, MO.