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Celebration of the Human Voice/2
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A New Language



Their hands were tied or handcuffed, yet their fingers danced, flew, drew words. The prisoners were hooded, but leaning back, they could see a bit, just a bit, down below. Although it was forbidden to speak, they spoke with their hands. Pinio Ungerfeld taught me the finger alphabet, which he had learned in prison without a teacher:

"Some of us had bad handwriting," he told me. "Others were masters of calligraphy."

The Uruguayan dictatorship wanted everyone to stand alone, everyone to be no one: in prison and barracks, and throughout the country, communication was a crime.

Some prisoners spent more than ten years buried in solitary cells the size of coffins, hearing nothing but clanging bars or footsteps in the corridors. Fernandez Huidobro and Mauricio Rosencof, thus condemned, survived because they could talk to each other by tapping on the wall. In that way they told of dreams and memories, fallings in and out of love; they discussed, embraced, fought; they shared beliefs and beauties, doubts, and guilts, and those questions that have no answer.

When it is genuine, when it is born of the need to speak, no one can stop the human voice. When denied mouth, it speaks with the hands or the eyes, or the pores, or anything at all. Because every single one of us has something to say to the others, something that deserves to be celebrated or forgiven by others.


Galeano, Eduardo. "Celebration of The Human Voice/2." The Book of Embraces. Trans. Cedric Belfrage. New York: Norton, 1989. 25.


Our group picked this abrazo because communication is important to everyone. WIthout it, life as we know it would not be the same. It's a part of our everyday lives, wheteher it is just casual conversation or an important business meeting. Based on that, we chose this abrazo also because it shows how far humans can go to talk to each other, which includes teaching themselves a new form of communicationn if necessary. For more of our thoughts on this abrazo you can take a look at the interpretations page.

By: Chad Cusick, Allison Fanska, Eirn Janollari, Ashley Kevesdy