No-History´s Library – The BACKYARD

Dedicated to Vicente Merino Jarpa

No-History’s Library-The BACKYARD has been compiled from declassified documents from the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies. The declassified CIA files range from 1962 to 1977 and include the following countries: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. The documents selected and contained in these books were obtained from the website Search.asp protected under the Freedom of Information Act, where thousands of declassified U.S. documents can be found. The documents were selected according to criteria of information content and visibility and represent a small proportion of the total number of documents in existence. Many of the documents were censored with sentences blacked out, have stamps, seals and letterheads of the agencies that produced them. The books created for the Zurich exhibition contain a critical compilation of the 70,000 files reviewed by the artist and have been organized according to geopolitical and chronological criteria.

From the hundreds of thousands of documents, the books are a selection where the conspiracies of coup d’états, and the assassinations and suspicious deaths of political and social leaders of these countries appear. The characteristic of this information is that it is fragmentary and censored, but despite this, it shows the systematic intervention of the US in the region, as well as the complicity of Latin American economic elites in colluding with these political destabilizations. Conceptually, the work makes visible that the main characteristic of the documents is the struggle between information and the taint of censorship, which contradictorily makes it possible for the archive to come to public light.

The books are made available to the public on shelves that quote a Minimalist work by Donald Judd. These books can be taken by the public who wish to do so, producing an emptying of the shelves, based on a transaction that is symbolic: a book in exchange for an answer to the question: What are you going to do with this?

The work considers the action of disseminating the material of the archives that were secret, while it poses the subjective response of the spectator’s action, as a first action of elaboration and assimilation of the information of the documents. That is why this version of No-History’s Library proposes a desk and parchment device (which is a quote from a desk by Donald Judd), to collect all the responses of the people who access the action of taking a book.

Because of the difficulty of reading the documents due to censorship and the discontinuity and fragmentation of the story, and its conformation in books, the work produces a confusing experience of information that is in limbo between the image (scratches) and the word (fragments of information) and produces that the public transits between being a reader, spectator, and writer.

Tipo de Investigación:
Migros Museum



  • No History’s Library-The Backyard
    300 books with declassified files on Latin America (Book 1: Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay. Book 2: Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia), 7 shelves of MDF, stainless steel and acrylic, and roll of printed paper for answers on wooden table with wooden stool
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