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Instruments of Torture Exhibit

September 3, 2012 10:55 p.m.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando looks at how the new Instruments of Torture differs from the 2000 exhibit on torture.

Related Story: Instruments of Torture


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: The San Diego Museum of Man recently opened Instruments of Torture. But the exhibit differs significantly from the torture exhibit it did in 2000. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando explains how.

TORTURE 1 (ba)

Back in 2000, the San Diego Museum of Man used the Spanish Inquisition as a way to frame its exhibit on torture. But the museum's perspective has changed significantly since then. The new Instruments of Torture places the exhibit within a contemporary context. Rex Garniewicz is Chief Operating Officer at the museum. He says the Museum of Man's new mission is to inspire human connections by exploring the human experience. Torture is a dark part of that experience but an important aspect to try and understand. Garniewicz wants the exhibit to address the human capacity to torture and how the medieval instruments are not merely relics from the past.

TORTURE 1A (:27)
REX GARNIEWICZ: I realized they are not a slice in time, that some of these techniques of torture continue to today. We've had people come through this exhibit that are from other countries and say yeah those are still being used. And so torture globally is not that much different from the middle ages and I think it's important to realize that this is not just a relic of the past, it's something we have to deal with today.

The latest report by Amnesty International notes that more than a hundred countries currently use torture on a systematic basis. Kathi Anderson is executive director of the Survivors of Torture International. She sees many survivors of torture who have come to San Diego. She has also seen a shift in attitudes toward torture over the decades.

TORTURE 1B (:25)
KATHI ANDERSON: Prior to 9/11 we as Americans always said torture is horrible and it is not part of who we are, it's not our character. But then 9/11 happened and there were conversations, hmm, I wonder if torture is okay or not? We as an organization, we always say torture is never, ever okay.

The Museum agrees and has launched a call to action campaign to turn people from passive bystanders to upstanders willing to take a stand against torture.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.