The memory is on the walls: Bogotá, Colombia

Memoria, Calle 26, Bogotá, Colombia

4,150,000 Victimas de desplazamiento forzado, Memoria, Calle 26, Bogotá, Colombia

“Bogotá is a city that speaks through its walls. A city were silenced voices speak…” says an article in El Tiempo.

IDARTES, the District Institute of the Arts, supports mural painting and graffiti collectives through an innovative approach to remember the country’s turbulent history, recognising the terrible realities that many were and continue to be forced in to, in order to motivate the collective will to overcome them.

In collaboration with the Centre for Victims, Peace and Reconciliation, as well as artists, reporters, photographers and other groups, an open and somewhat permanent exhibition has been elaborately developed throughout the city. The project is called Memorias del Futuro (Memories of the Future).

These murals are also a timely reflection on the process of peace that Colombia’s government and the FARC initiated in 2012 and are to be signed and concluded in March 2016. Apparently.

As well as remembering, these murals, and IDARTES’ work, have contributed to building Bogotá’s renowned reputation for street art and expression.

Memoria, Bogotá, Colombia

Memoria, Bogotá, Colombia

Colectivo Animal (Animal Collective) are the authors of these three murals on the calle 26, which commemorate the 4,150,000 victims of forced displacement and of the Unión Patriótica (U.P).

Historic note: The U.P. was a political party that promoted democratic peace without the use of arms. The FARC were part of this party until they shifted away from it and rejoined the use of arms in the conflict. Many of the U.P.’s members were assassinated, amongst them, political figures who represented peace and democracy including three presidential candidates.

El desplazamiento forzado, Memoria, Bogotá, Colombia

El desplazamiento forzado, Memoria, Bogotá, Colombia

Through these murals, artists hope to propose new dialogues amongst those who walk the city, making ‘the call for peace’ a daily exercise.

Bajo la tierra, Memoria, Bogotá, Colombia

Bajo la tierra, Memoria, Bogotá, Colombia

Underneath the surface lie many bodies, bodies that are today, fertile soil on which Colombia’s richness can grow (and by richness, I am not talking about money. I’m talking about culture, history, people and opportunities for the Colombian people).

In this way, the city is speaking with its people, and its people are in turn, speaking with the city.

This move by IDARTES proves it’s innovation and progressive outlook. Not only does it invite artists and communities to take part in beautifying the city, it also invites us to take part in raising consciousness about issues that continue to shadow people’s lives. Issues that cannot be ignored.

As a lover of art, I cannot help but mention, how these examples are a demonstration of the power of art. Street art can not only present wonderful opportunities for the creative minds of a city but it can also be used to move, inspire and invite citizens to engage with it.

How did they do it? It’s important to point out that those who participated in the making of these murals were not only the Animal Collective but also victims of displacement, relatives of victims, musicians and members of the U.P. who were invited to the event.

Check out the different murals along the calle 26 dedicated to the Memory of Colombia’s turbulent past: