Facilitating voicing and listening in the context of post-conflict performances of memory

The Colombian scenario

Authored by: Luis C. Sotelo

The Routledge Handbook of Memory and Place

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815386308
eBook ISBN: 9780815354260
Adobe ISBN:


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Performing artists in Colombia began some decades ago to work with both victims and offenders of abuses of human rights in order to produce collaborative performances informed by or even fully based on the real-life stories of those whose lives have been directly affected by the armed conflict. The overall aims of these practices are to use the power of their narratives and/or their presence on stage to contribute to ongoing peace-building, post-conflict efforts to claim for the rights of the victims, and for restorative justice purposes. Some examples include Carlos Satizabal’s Antigonas Tribunal de Mujeres [Antigonas, a Women’s Tribunal] a play in which four women share testimonies related with the killing or disappearance of their beloved sons and husbands and with persecution by state agents (Satizabal 2015); Constanza Ramírez Molano’s Vivificar [Vivifying] (2015), a flash mob in a shopping centre in which she stages the forced disappearance of musicians and the conductor of an orchestra as a means to engage the public in direct conversations with the relatives of disappeared people, who appear on stage at the end of the flash mob; choreographer Alvaro Restrepo’s commemorative ceremony Inxilio: el Sendero de Lágrimas [Inxilio: The Trail of Tears] (2010–2013), in which more than 150 victims of forced internal displacement appear on stage along with trained contemporary dancers, a symphonic orchestra, an actress, and a soprano singer. In the context of that performance, a selection of the performers/survivors presents the self; they act as representatives of other victims and voice their thoughts on aspects relevant to the post-conflict moment that Colombia was going through at that time; Luis C. Sotelo’s audio-guide La Salida Más Conveniente [The Most Convenient Way Out] (2014–2018), in which one person at a time is guided for 25 minutes by a young man, in silence, about a building in a city (the project is adaptable to any city). As they walk, they listen together via headphones to a fragment of a life story by a young ex-combatant of rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The life story that they get to listen to presents the ex-combatant’s early childhood, and refers to what made him join the guerrilla, how he was trained, why he decided to escape from it, and what life-threatening hurdles he faced in trying to do that.

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