2013 - Ongoing
Bogota D.C., Colombia; Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia; Florencia, Caquetá, Colombia; Toribío, Cauca, Colombia; Puerto Nariño, Amazonas, Colombia; New York City, New York, United States
According to Colombia’s National Centre for Historic Memory (Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica, CNMH), 82,998 people were forcibly disappeared in the country between 1958 and 2017, at an average rate of one disappearance every six hours over 59 years. Nine out of ten of these individuals are still missing today. Impunity is the essence of forced disappearance. There is neither a body nor a motive and, therefore, no culprit. Most of the disappeared have been killed and thrown into anonymous mass graves, rivers, mangroves, sugar mills, and crematorium ovens. Even the digestive systems of animals have served as the final destination for many of the missing.
The whole world associates forced disappearance with Southern Cone dictatorships rather than with Colombia where the number is three times as high and the crime continues even today. In Colombia, forced disappearance turned into one of the most effective social control strategies. The bloody result of a complex low-intensity war related to territorial control, illicit crops and economic megaprojects (which go from hydrocarbons to dams, from agribusiness to tourism). The goal was to wipe out any political opposition and to control the territories. The crime was carried out by state agents, members of paramilitary and guerrilla groups, politicians, and civilians who benefited from this strategy. Any kind of otherness was eliminated at different levels: indigenous leaders, activists of social organizations, unionists, students from public universities, environmentalists among many others. Their memory fell into an institutionalized oblivion that many call an operation of 'memoricide' directed by the State.
The victimizers have covered Colombia’s landscape and conscience with a large veil under which voices and bones were silenced and hidden. My photographic search aims to lift that veil, betraying power and its efforts not to leave a physical imprint of the crime. ‘Under the veil’ embodies the frustration of collecting visual fragments to rebuild stories and identities. It uses photography to build an impossible: a visual tribute to the absence.