Justice and Memory

BlogJAM: Graphics to decolonize memory, project launch and creative labs

Colombian history has been affected by incessant violence since the process of colonization, and this has been exacerbated in the last 70 years by the internal armed conflict.

Meanwhile, the civilian population has not had many mechanisms to tell their story, as one of the strategies of the armed actors has been to prohibit people from talking about what happened, burying their dead, or mourning them in any way. Since the beginning of the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement in 2016, more than 550 leaders have been killed in Colombia, that is to say, one every three days (Pacifista: 2020; INDEPAZ: 2021).

Although the 2011 Law 1448 or ” The Victims Law” was a key milestone for the recognition of the differential approach towards the victims of the internal armed conflict and the need to start telling their story, the methods for the collection of such stories have not moved away from a revictimizing narrative. The state, academia, and international cooperation projects have focused on supporting memory reconstruction projects using approaches founded on Western paradigms, in which the narrative of pain has been used as the central axis of history. In most of the literature on the memory of the violent past, there is a dominance of literary works such as chronicles or free narrative, and this has generated, voluntarily or involuntarily, a dehumanization and re-victimization of the subjects who have suffered violence. 

Regarding urban art, actions have focused on muralism which, although it has a high impact on public space, is a practice that relegates the actors of memory to the role of observers. This is why we see poster art as an innovative, creative, and participatory way of producing individual and collective memory of injustices and violent past, focusing on the critical thinking, expressiveness and resilient advances of the people and communities that inhabit Colombian urban and rural territories. 

Palabreras & Callejeras aims to contribute to the construction of a decolonial paradigm that includes new ways of investigating, remembering and demanding justice for the violent past/present, and that also allows the rural and urban population to express and replicate individual and collective memories, without revictimizing or hindering the mourning processes that have been fought throughout the internal armed conflict. Through the use of poster art, a creative, resilient, poetic, and political memory is constructed in contrast to the authoritarian memory portrayed in hegemonic media. 

Graphics to decolonise memory: creative pedagogies among the street, the village, and the academia. 

The topic investigated by our project is the collective creation of posters as a counter-hegemonic pedagogical tool, to narrate the memory of injustice and the violent past in Colombia, specifically in Bogotá, Urabá, Putumayo, and Caquetá.

Project launch and collective presentation:  Over 50 people were invited to the Palabreras & Callejeras project launch at the Casa de la Paz. We had members of the Campaña Colombiana Contra Minas, artists, and activist from Bogotá. The launch event was held at Casa de la Paz, a FARC-EP peace-signers project, that directly supports their commitment to peace building.

Since the launch of the Palabreras & Callejeras project, we have held creative labs in four districts of Bogotá.

Suba Creative Lab: Held on 9 July 2022 in Suba (North-West of Bogotá), an area with a high rate of internal and external migration. The laboratory was held in the community and self-managed library “Casa He-chiza”. Around 28 participants attended, and more than 20 graphic pieces were produced using stencils, movable type, silkscreen printing and engraving.

Puente Aranda Creative Lab: It took place on 15 July 2022 in Puente Aranda (south-central Bogotá), one of the most industrial and polluted areas of the city. This lab, which took place in the Casa Viva Cultural House, was mainly attended by women, although girls, boys and young adults also participated and created around 25 artistic pieces.

Usme Creative Lab: This creative lab took place on 30 July in the rural-urban border of Usme (southwest of Bogotá). This territory has a strong ancestral tradition and is the site of a process of resistance and care for water, as the largest moor in the world, which is home to the most important water sources in the country, is located in this territory (Páramo de Sumapaz), and at the same time it is close to the largest rubbish dump in Bogotá. The laboratory was held in the Cantarrana Ecological Park and was attended by 22 participants, namely several teenagers and young artists from the locality, and one child.

Bosa Creative Lab: The last lab in Bogotá was held on 6 August in the locality of Bosa (in the southwest of the city), one of the areas with the highest levels of poverty and youth criminalization. It was attended by 10 people, probably due to the weather and the limited availability of dates. The participants in this event were mostly young people and produced more than 15 creative pieces, as well as generating a very deep and interesting debate on memory which took place at the beginning of the event. 

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