The Museum of the Victim is dedicated to presenting current and historical data with the victim placed at the center of events. The victim is a historical constant – a general reality present in all places and at all times. As such, the Museum does not focus on any specific period or people but rather is an ever growing global narrative built around a complex role, too often relegated to the footnotes of historical research and modern affairs reporting.
The MV seeks to define the term Victim broadly, exposing the complexity of the term as a concept. In doing so, our goal is to shed light on the events and circumstances surrounding this systematically neglected character within the context of historic and current affairs.
The MV strives to be as pluralistic as possible. To develop and maintain an independent and impartial attitude and a rigorous and accurate analysis, an exchange of ideas – at times confrontational ideas – is beneficial and necessary. In this spirit, we are open to and encourage contributions from other parties as well as challenges to our materials and analysis from all quarters.
Due to the often intense nature of the material, there is a great amount of pressure on the analyst to editorialize content into a political framing. We want to stress our commitment to resist sensationalization of the material and to provide an analysis that is as independent, rigorous, and impartial as possible.
GENESIS OF THE PROJECT
The idea behind the Museum of the Victim originated with artist Paco Cao in 2006 while conducting research for a public art project – Proyecto Juárez – at the border of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuhua (Mexico) and El Paso, Texas (USA). Specifically, the idea emerged during a visit to the National Border Patrol Museum at El Paso, Texas.
As the name implies, the National Border Patrol Museum is devoted to the history of the US Border Patrol which originated during the ‘old West’ period (roughly the 1800’s) and continues through to modern times. The museum’s main group of exhibits are focused on the men and women of the Border Patrol and consist of photographs, films, and equipment used by generations to monitored the border. The National Border Patrol Museum also hosts a smaller, second section. This one offers materials dealing with the individuals crossing the border, it is in a sense the raison d’etre section of the National Border Patrol Museum.
Visiting this second space, the artist came upon a provocative exhibit - the remains of a backpack with an unfinished pack of cigarettes tucked into the shoulder pocket and the sleeves of a dirtied tee-shirt sticking out over the sides of the top flap. The exhibit offers no clue as to the identity of the backpack’s owner nor any insight into their story or ultimately what fate befell them. The backpacker is victim of both the place he or she came from and the place they strove to find. Without context, the he or she is also reduced to an object in exhibit space much like the backpack itself.
The Museum of the Victim was born from the observation that it is merely the confluence of circumstance that dictates that the backpacker must remain forever nameless. One example of many archival exhibits which push individuals outside of the historical/modern narrative rendering them objects rather than victims. This site is dedicated to reincluding them into that same narrative.