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This online exhibit is sponsored by The Latin American Library (LAL) at Tulane University. In September 2013, Erika Diettes exhibited samples of her work in the LAL gallery in conjunction with the Library’s annual Open House.
SHROUDS (Sudarios) is the result of multiple theoretical concerns, an infinity of technical quests, and an observation of the world from a certain context.
My decision to create this work stems from questions which have remained from previous photographic series, but are the consequences of the same process that began with my series SILENCES (Silencios, 2004), which deals with survivors of the Second World War who live in Colombia.
These questions are also to be found in DRIFTING AWAY (Río Abajo, 2007-2008), a series which deals with the victims of forced disappearance, and BY FORCE OF BLOOD (A Punta de Sangre, 2009), another series in which I examine the idea of the search for the bodies of the disappeared by their families who, in the midst of despair, find a ray of hope in the vultures that might lead them to the remains of their loved ones. To date I have received the testimonies of more than 300 victims of the violence in Colombia. They have confided intimacies of this violence to me: not only its harrowing details but the way they rebuild their lives and keep going despite what they have suffered.
Many times, with my camera, I have been a witness of the moment when people have to close their eyes as they recall the event which divided their life into two parts. The intention of the SHROUDS series is to enable the spectator to enter into and walk through these impenetrable and apparently alien worlds, when s/he observes that moment in which these women close their eyes because they find no other way to communicate the true dimension of the horror which they witnessed and the intensity of the sorrow to which they were subjected.
The women whose faces appear in SHROUDS were first-hand witnesses of acts of horror. They were forced to feel in their own flesh or in front of their own eyes that there is no difference between human beings and the most savage beasts of nature; or rather, that there is a difference and it is that we are the only species capable of mass murder and the only ones who do not adapt to our own kind.1
1. Nikolaas Timbergen, cited by Erich Fromm, Anatomía de la destructividad humana. Mexico: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 1975; 2004. p. 35.
Erika Diettes is a visual artist who lives and works in Bogotá. She works mainly with photography to explore issues of memory, pain, absence and death. She has a Master’s degree in Anthropology from Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá), with a Licenciatura in Visual Arts and Communication from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana de Bogotá. She has authored several essays on artistic representation in times of war, and her photographic and essayistic production has been included in various books, newspapers and journals. Her work is part of the permanent collection of several major museums and has been exhibited at the Museums of Modern Art of Bogotá, Cali, Medellín and Barranquilla, the Museum of the University of Antioquia, the National Museum of Colombia, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago de Chile, Centro Cultural recoleta in Buenos Aires, De Santos Gallery and Houston Museum of Art. Her most recent work, Sudarios, participated in the 2012 Fotofest Biennal, the Festival de la Luz in Buenos Aires, the Ex Teresa Arte Actual in Mexico City, and the Ballarat Foto Biennale in Australia among others. Erika Diettes’ photographs also have been exhibited in other spaces linked to rememoration processes developed by several victims’ movements in Colombia.