Eager to turn the page of the conflict, Colombia does not finish digesting the peace agreement with the FARC. The longed-for end of the war has choked him amid the threat of new or recycled violence. From art and photography, Doris Salcedo and Jesús Abad Colorado, protagonists of the Hay Festival of Cartagena de Indias, have dedicated their careers to dignify the victims of all the armed actors, more than eight million among the dead, disappeared and displaced. In the walled city they agreed to claim, from their disciplines, the value of that pact that has been in place for more than two years.
Witness, traveler and photographer, Jesús Abad Colorado (Medellín, 1967) has documented tirelessly the extensive geography of barbarism in Colombia. The reputed photojournalist from Antioquia had been asked on countless occasions to make a film about his work. He had always refused. But the British documentary filmmaker Kate Horne looked for it precisely when she was ready to turn 50, and that motivated her to accept, aware that she was born in the middle of an armed conflict that lasted for more than half a century. By then, the ink of the pact that sealed the end of 2016 the Government of Juan Manuel Santos with the oldest guerrilla in America was still fresh.
The witness, the film exhibited in the framework of the festival, part of a simple idea: to accompany the photographer to revisit some of the people he has portrayed in his disturbing images. The girl who nails a cross on the remains of her father in San José de Apartadó, the bride who enters to marry the church amid the rubble caused by a car bomb in Granada, the girl who looks out of the hole that left a bullet in the window of his home in Comuna 13 of Medellín or the survivors of the Bojayá massacre, among many others. Photos that recorded dead and displacements, but also returns and acts of resistance.
"I have taken pictures of 10-year-old boys and girls who have moved to their young age three and four times," he said, shocked before an audience that had just applauded him standing, amid spontaneous cries of "nothing at war." "You can not go through this documentary, you can not go through my photographs, the ones that are here or those that are in Bogota, and leave calm," he said. "The Military Hospital for two or three years had been left with empty beds and this is the great news for Colombia. That our boys, soldiers or policemen are not mutilated, do not lose their eyes. But we have not understood it. Please, stop giving the microphone to the sowing hate, be it a political representative or a religious leader, "he closed his call.
The witness It is accompanied by an exhibition of more than 500 photographs in the Cloister of San Agustín, in the historical center of Bogotá, a few meters from the Casa de Nariño -the presidential palace- and just a couple of blocks from Fragments, the work of Doris Salcedo (Bogotá, 1958) made with the metal of 37 tons of weapons delivered by the FARC. Two reminders of the horror of war in the heart of Colombia's political power, the place where Salcedo, another outstanding champion of peace, has also displayed some of her most important works.
"What I want is to allow the absentees to manifest themselves there, in that center of power that is exclusive for the living," said the most recognized and valued Latin American artist in the world during her conversation at the Adolfo Mejía Theater in Cartagena. "I feel we have an obligation to challenge that power."
Cartagena was also the scene of the signing of the original agreement with the FARC, a pact rejected by a minimal difference in a plebiscite that Salcedo describes as "the strongest duel I have ever felt in my life." Santos endorsed in Congress a renegotiated agreement that fueled the polarization generated since the beginning of the dialogues. And Iván Duque, a critic of the negotiation, won the elections of the middle of last year with the promise of "correcting" specific aspects.
With Fragments, As a result of the peace accords, Salcedo set out to show that Colombians are not condemned to new cycles of violence, which are capable of disarming as a society. In what it defines as a "countermonument", 1,300 metal plates were hammered by women who suffered sexual abuse in the context of the conflict, and now they are the floor of that space of art and memory. "In war there are no victors, there are only victimizers, so what I was trying to do was show that weapons could be destroyed, and that we could all stand in a balanced and free way on those weapons", with what is reversed the power relationship imposed by the rifles. "They are there to be stepped on and as a foundation for the act of memory that Colombians have to elaborate."
The acclaimed Colombian artist closed with a call to approach the experience of those who suffered those heartbreaking wounds. So much time working with the people most affected by the ravages of war has left him in deep pain, which he does not try to hide, but also "a huge satisfaction to restore dignity to Colombian society, myself and the victims" .