NATURAL HISTORY OF SILENCE
The sun has sunk beneath the earth, there is an eclipse
It seems as if everything is lost and chaos invades us
I Ching The book of change (note found in the notebook of my father)
During the 1980s and 1990s, a generation of men and women entered the underground world in different Colombian cities. Coming from different political, social, and economic scenarios, these workers collaborated in the consolidation of the buoyant, irregular, and illegal economy of Colombia that ended up permeating different daily lives until they entered the houses and families established at that time. The industry took over a good part of the hours of the day, but it was at night and in the wake of the ungoverned where they found the best scenario for operations: the party, the agreements, and a kind of archetypes of clandestinity were forged in the imagination of the night.
The children of these workers woke up in the middle of the course of this sinister economy, saw it develop, and found in it the central characters of the stories, constituting a personal memory rooted and permeated by situations that did not seem out of the ordinary, even when they were. This generation soon understood that it had to remain silent. The memories were fictionalized, silencing what was experienced. They buried their murdered parents, relatives, or friends, telling stories of distant accidents, imagining different forms of sudden death, and finding in whispers a way to clarify situations.
The images from natural history museums, along with those from art museums and different cities such as Medellin, Bogotá, New York, Cali, and Popayán, seek to create an imagined city where animals represent scenarios of violence, stories of death and uncertainty, places where many of the stories take place. To recompose the fragments of this silenced memory, a certain type of archeology of objects related to these stories is portrayed between the intimacy of homes and abstract monochrome backgrounds. Finally, many of the people portrayed do not want to be identified. Only their stories can be read.
In the midst of the silence that we seek to hear, the narrative gets lost in the memory that reconstructs a desolate and imagined city, marked by violence, chained to the need to forget or face its past.
NATURAL HISTORY OF SILENCE
I remember the first time I saw a gun. I was in the living room of my dad's cousin's house. Black and shiny, with some worn edges, they held it in their hands while admiring it inch by inch as if the rest of the room had disappeared. Then my mind jumps, and I remember the first time I saw cocaine base. It was a cream-colored bucket filled with a heavy-looking, settling white mass placed right under the bathroom sink. I was drying myself after bathing, fleeing from a hot afternoon; I looked at the bucket and tried to understand what it was. Then, I walked past the contents without any qualms to go get dressed. If I think about it well, I can also remember the time when they told stories in meetings about how they had escaped from the police "I peed on my fingerprints, and no record came out" they said while laughing; we put it together this way or that way, others remembered.
When I try to think about all those moments, my mind takes me to the back seats of a luxurious car, the wooden dashboard with shiny inlays. I travel from one city to another in the company of a close family member and his work partner, and I have barely a few years. I wake up in the middle of a conversation: if the police stop us, we'll have to give ourselves a bullet. I have a grenade in my pocket, and we can go down these mountains. I put it in second gear so that the car can go down without spitting out. I immersed myself in that feeling of sordid amazement; I remember that my aunt told me that she should see the gifts the child god had left for my cousin. We were with my sister, who was holding a teddy bear. When you open the door, a room full of Barbies with all the accessories, cars, cars, and houses. Why does the child God bring so many gifts to my cousins? She always asked him. I remember the December party where everyone arrived at that farm, armed and wearing police uniforms; they arrived where Caramelo, Capuchino, and Carrot were, the horses that we visited when we went for a ride. They took us out because it was the property of the man they were looking for. Then I breathe, and I have a gun in my hand; in the background, there is a bottle on a log that holds the barbed wire of a fence. Everyone has fired, and it is my turn. The gun is a competitive one, fragile at the slightest pressure, I shoot, and the memory is diluted. The next thing I see is a dead bird. It has fallen after a cousin's son hit it in the chest. I don't want to see it, but I look at its legs. The circle of cousins is shocked. There is a dead person, a dead animal. None would know that it was just a sign of how they would all fall.
Over the years, I remember that my friends dressed up a lot to go out with the well-to-do kids in the business. They told them not to invite me because they didn't like me. I also remember Garfield. He always had a cell phone or two. Always cloned, we could call wherever we wanted for as long as we wanted; the bill came to someone else. He used them because he had to constantly call to coordinate work. TELECOM was his second home there; they hacked the phones to make international calls, and the workday was always night. I also remember Daniel, the schoolboy who was left in the glass building. Over the years, I found out that his father was a dog washer.
I breathe looking at the objects of the past, of the cities that grew with the money of the returns, between buildings and luxurious houses and that likewise went out between the search for coves, the abandonment in time, and a more controlled organization of the business that lives popular among politicians and businessmen. A time that seems to only remember the show and its bloated narratives. For the rest, people, ordinary people, it seems that no one remembers it, at least no one talks about it. It is a story marked by silence and myths, the mythologization of large groups, significant actions, and large operations. However, by tradition, it has been an everyday business, where many people enter out of necessity or because they are lazy, but it ends there. Nobody wants to talk about what happened. Nobody wants to think that all that happened. Family and friends became entangled between businesses, being pilots, errand boys, negotiators, bodyguards, or falling like mules. Silence has taken history from us. We silence it out of shame, as if we were infected and were carriers of evil. We hide the facts, like an eclipse that covers all light to leave us on the dark side of silence.