Orjuela's artwork is about the memory and the rescue of historical documents. In Archivo Muerto he looks at the archive of the most famous tabloid newspaper in Bogota, Colombia when it entered bankruptcy and closed its doors, leaving on the street 50 years of photographic history.
Orjuela managed to salvage a number of the old photographs. These images are replete with historical details originally produced not for their visual interest but as evidence. Curiously enough, in many cases, the inscriptions on the back of the photos do not seem to match the images on the front. In Coca Traffickers (2013), two men stand with bags stuffed with marijuana. On the label, an original typewritten inscription describes the haul of marijuana that was brought in, but this text is crossed out and in coloured pencil the words “traficantes de coca” (coca traffickers) are inscribed. Apparently the evidence needed to be altered to fit the accusation.
Orjuela uses a hand-colouring technique that gives the prints a nostalgic air despite their unpleasant subject matter. In another work - a photograph of a subject who was jailed for resisting arrest - the viewer sees a uniformed leg being raised against a man cowering in his underwear behind his bed. The image raises the issue of the militarisation of Colombia beginning in the 1960s, but the gap between the subject of the photograph, police brutality, and the colouring of the image produces a sense of discomfort. The image becomes almost theatrical like a Mise en scène.
There is the nostalgia of historical distance but also lost innocence. If these factual documents, made to support bogus claims by the police, can be read as romanticised history, the work suggests that the tension between current knowledge about the past and evidence of historical transgressions can challenge idealised projections of history.