Argentine photo exhibit stirs memories of 1994 bombing attack on Jewish center

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Julio Menajovsky was one of the first photographers to reach the scene of a devastating bombing at a Jewish cultural center in Argentina on the morning of July 18, 1994, that killed 85 people and wounded hundreds.

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The photographer has now shot a new series of images, based on the stories of people affected by the bombing at the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) community center in Buenos Aires, to mark the 25th anniversary of the attack here.

The exhibition, “Twenty-five,” has been shown in New York and will move to Buenos Aires and then Paris. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will attend an event to mark the anniversary of the event on Thursday as part of a visit to the country.

The show includes new studio photos, in black and white, depicting a woman who lost her daughter next to a man whose father died in the attack. Another pictures a merchant with the doctor who saved his life. These are juxtaposed with Menajovsky’s photos of the devastation taken right after the attack.

The bombing, the deadliest in Argentina’s history, shook the South American country. Investigations have never uncovered who was responsible, though local courts have blamed the attack on Iran. Iran has denied playing any role.

“The lack of justice means that, 25 years later, the attack is still with us,” said Elio Kapszuk, art and production director of AMIA and curator of the exhibition.

“We asked Julio to generate new photographs that had connection points with those earlier baroque-style images, loaded with drama, taken after 09.53 when the bomb killed 85 people and left more than 300 injured,” he added.

On the day of the attack, Menajovsky said he was working as a photo journalist when he heard the explosion and rushed to the site to take the photos “in a stunned way.”

“These pictures were kept in an imaginary box and I thought I had to do something with that, but I never knew what or how,” Menajovsky told Reuters by phone.

With the new photos, he said the “stories of the attack reappeared as if they had been yesterday.”

“I could not believe that 25 years later, I felt so present, so alive, so immediate in the moment of the attack. Of course, that transported me back to that morning.”

Reporting by Maria Cervantes; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Bernadette Baum