Sunday, June 20

‘Stolen Lives’, the requiem with which Doris Salcedo honors the dead of the protests in Colombia | Culture


Colombia continues in mourning for the multiple violence that does not give truce. It is because of the incessant murder of social leaders since the signing of the peace, for the millions of victims of the armed conflict and also for the deaths left on the asphalt by the social outbreak that has taken over the streets in the last month. In the midst of the wave of protests against the government of Iván Duque, the artist Doris Salcedo has proposed to denounce once again the boredom of society, and honor the victims, with the exhibition Taken lives, which will be from the first of June in Fragments, Art and Memory Space, the “counter-monument”In the historic center of Bogotá arising from the agreements sealed more than four years ago.

Since the national strike began on April 28, until May 20, there have been at least 42 fatalities in the framework of all kinds of marches, protests and riots, 40 civilians and two policemen, according to the count of Public Issue, an independent media that is part of the initiative. To that account are added thousands of arbitrary arrests, more than a hundred disappeared, sexual assaults and dozens of protesters with eye injuries.

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In a sort of collective ritual, the promoters of Stolen livess, which is curated by Salcedo and María Belén Sáez de Ibarra, aims to honor all the people who have lost their lives in the protests in Colombia in the last two years, bringing together the faces and stories of 56 victims documented, including 14 that belong to previous waves of social mobilization since the end of 2019.

“With Taken lives We record the tragic and indelible mark that the violent and arbitrary death of our young people leaves on the national conscience. Unfortunately, political violence defines the ethos of our society, since in Colombia the difference between combatants and the civilian population has been erased, ”Salcedo explained about a sample that he defined as a commitment to memory. “To ensure that these tragic experiences are not reduced to the lament, silence and loneliness of the mourners, this unique experience must be inscribed in an action of public memory,” says one of the most recognized and valued Latin American artists in the world in the statement announcing an austere and solemn exhibition. Naming those names is a way of collectively acknowledging those losses.

The assembly of the exhibition 'Stolen Lives' in 'Fragments, space for art and memory'.
The assembly of the exhibition ‘Stolen Lives’ in ‘Fragments, space for art and memory’. Fragments

The action will be accompanied by the works Requiem IV Lacrimosa, by the Hungarian composer György Ligeti, who was a victim of Nazi persecution, and the poem The century, of the Polish Ósip Mandelshtam, repressed by Stalin. Next Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. (Bogotá time), 35 musicians from the National University of Colombia will interpret this funeral song, which will be broadcast by streamig and since then it will be installed in Fragments, where it will be open to the public until June 27.

Taken lives It is planned as an action of memory, but also as an urgent action in the midst of the crisis caused by the massive protests that have crashed against the police repression. The sample also reaffirms Fragments as what has been conceived since it was inaugurated in December 2018, an art and memory space dedicated to the victims of multiple violence. It was built with the molten metal of 37 tons of weapons delivered by FARC ex-combatants, with a floor of 1,300 metal plates hammered into by women who suffered sexual abuse in the armed conflict. It is located in a large house very close to the Casa de Nariño, the seat of Government, and is also designed as a space to house, every year and for half a century, the time that the war lasted, exhibitions of Colombian or foreign artists.

Doris Salcedo at the opening of 'Fragmentos', in December 2018. The symbolic floor of the space is made with the molten metal of the weapons of the extinct FARC.
Doris Salcedo at the opening of ‘Fragmentos’, in December 2018. The symbolic floor of the space is made with the molten metal of the weapons of the extinct FARC.Camilo Rozo

For years, Salcedo has been deeply committed both to the implementation of the agreements and to the work of the Truth Commission, and has tried to demonstrate with her works that Colombians are not condemned to new cycles of violence. That is why the art world protested after President Duque, a critic of the pact with the guerrillas who had never set foot on that symbolic soil before, used Fragments for a political meeting, as if it were a convention hall.

The artist denounced that the president had “sullied” the counter-monument. “I do not think he will do it again because returning would imply that at once he accepts what the work means: the consequence of a pain suffered by years of conflict and a cry for peace that he himself denies,” he said in an interview with EL COUNTRY. “It is time to recognize that fascist whiff, that patriarchal and authoritarian program that is consistent with his gaze,” he pointed out in that conversation.

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