The Tragedy of the Uchuraccay

An image of a retablo. The retablo has a likeness to an open cabinet with shelves, each containing figurines portraying different scenes.

The Tragedy of the Uchuraccay by Jeronimo Lozano, State of Utah Alice Merrill Horne Art Collection, 2008

The Tragedy of the Uchuraccay is also known as “Killing of the Journalists.” Jeronimo made this retablo while he was a student in the Fine Arts Program at the University of Lima. During that time, in the early 1980s, a group of Maoist revolutionaries known as The Shining Path began a guerilla war against the Peruvian government. When a group of journalists went to Jeronimo’s home town of Ayacucho to investigate allegations of brutality, one of his classmates, a journalism student, accompanied them. They investigated a mass killing of indigenous Andean people and it was unclear then, and still is today, whether the murders were committed by the Shining Path or by the military. But those who went to investigate the atrocities never returned to tell the story.  

With the unresolved fate of his classmate and the other journalists in mind, Jeronimo Lozano began his own investigation. He traveled to Ayachucho, dressed as a llama herder and spoke to people in their native Quechua language. He soon learned the depth and complexity of the tragic story as they told him that the bodies of the journalists had been discovered. When he returned to Lima, he created this retablo as his own journalistic expression. The various compartments of the retablo relate the story of the killing of the journalists, scene by scene.    

Though Jeronimo Lozano has produced hundreds of retablos while living in Utah, “Killing of the Journalists” is very special. It not only chronicles an event few initially knew about, but it is one of the few pieces of art that he brought with him to the United States when he left Peru.

Click on the images below to get a closer look and hear the story from Jeronimo's research.

A scene called The Uchuraccaynos within a retablo. The scene portray a family of humanlike figurines. There are two, taller adults and four shorter children. There is also a baby strapped to one of the adults. One of the adults and two children hold white ropes. There are looks of anguish and sadness of all of their faces. The figurines stand between two structures with straw roofs.A scene called Traditional Customs within a retablo. The scene portrays humanlike figurines in a group. The men and women portrayed wear earthy colors like green, grey, brown, and dark red. All the figurines wear hats. Most hold and drink from white bottles. One figurine holds a guitar and two other hold flutes to their mouths.A scene called Magdalena Control Point within a retablo. The scene portray four large figurines dressed in military-like uniforms and holding guns, towering over a red car. In the car windows can be seen faces of passengers. The back wall has text that reads, "Garita de Control Magdalena."The Bribe
A scene called Sowing within a retablo. The scene portrays humanlike figurines wearing hats and holding farming tools, as though they are working in a field. In the backgroup are what appear to be structures with straw roofs.A scene called Reunion within a retablo. The scene portrays eight men gathered around a table. There are papers scattered on the table and two men hold papers. All the men have looks of anguish or sadness on their faces.A scene called Disguise within a retablo. A group of nine humanlike figurines are portrayed as dressing themselves in grey and brown ponchos and grey hats.A scene called The Burial within a retablo. Four humanlike figurines lay on the base with four addition naked, humanlike figurines standing in a crab-walk position above them.