RETRATOS DE AUSENCIA

REPORTED BY MARIO TORO QUINTERO

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Biography

After learning first-hand about situations of violence experienced by his relatives in the past, he decided that he would use photography to bear witness to those voices that have been marginalised by society in order to tell the silenced and invisible truths.

Documentary photographer focused on the construction of memory from the image in different territories of the country.

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Photo part of the project "Retratos de ausencia"

RETRATOS DE AUSENCIA

Portraits of Absence' is a persistent exhibition of Colombian mothers searching for the truth about their disappeared, focused on portraying the difficulty of life with the weight and absoluteness of absence and the important role of searching mothers and families in the search for the truth.

 

In the department of Meta there is a group of women who through art have found reconciliation, reparation and strength to confront the disappearance of their relatives by armed groups with the extinct FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army) or paramilitary groups in the region. The aim of this report is to make visible the situation that the searching mothers go through during their processes in the context of the disappearance of family members, for whom they have not stopped waiting or searching, living with the memories, interacting with the physical and emotional absences they left behind.  The project aims to socialise the situation of those people who remain for years waiting for those who disappeared due to the internal conflict, from all aspects, in this case documentary. In these portraits of absence we meet Rocío, Liliana and Himelda, women and mothers who have suffered for decades the harshness of the internal conflict because it took away the ones they loved: their children.

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Himelda Ariza lost her son 20 years ago in El Manantial, a neighbourhood in the city of Villavicencio, while he was playing football with his friends. In 2009, she found out that a paramilitary front had taken him by force and according to the information that Himelda has managed to obtain after years of searching, after twelve days of being held, her son was shot in the El Tropezón hamlet in the department of Meta.

Himelda Ariza holds a hand-painted loom in honour of her son Andrés, who disappeared in Villavicencio in 2001.

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Rocío was taken away from her son, who was taken by force by the 16th front of the extinct FARC-EP when he was still a minor, with the excuse that he would be held for two months as a punishment, but she never saw him again.

Rocío Castillo, mother of Iván Darío López, recounting the last time she was able to see her son.

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Liliana went to the department of Vichada to look for her son, who had moved to the area to look for work opportunities and lost contact with his family. After more than a year of searching, they were reunited. However, days later, while they were having lunch together during a Mother's Day celebration, a member of the FARC-EP asked her to go with them and she never returned.

Aliria de Jesús Marulanda Romero, who prefers to be called Liliana, holds the only painting she has of José Luis Sánchez, who disappeared in 2002.

With their work and their search processes, they seek to contribute to memory, truth, processes of reparation and non-repetition in the country and, in this case, from areas as affected by violence as the Orinoco region. It is important that those who disappeared are never forgotten and that their faces are a banner of resistance, persistence and struggle for the truth.

Since 1970 and to date, more than 80,000 victims of forced disappearance have been reported in the country.
More than 80,000 people who were taken away never to return, but whose families never stopped waiting.

 

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