Sofía N. González-Ayala and Alejandro Camargo (Manchester/Barranquilla)

Multiple waters and exhibition making for transitional justice in Colombia

In almost five decades of armed conflict in Colombia water has become a scenario of violence and injustice. Rivers, marshes, floodplains, and the ocean have been grabbed, enclosed, controlled, and rendered routes for drug trafficking. Consequently, livelihoods have been undermined and hundreds of communities have lost vital access to bodies of water. In 2005 the Colombian state initiated a transitional justice process to embark the country on the path towards a post-conflict era. In this context, the Museum of Memory was established as a form of symbolic reparation and for the reconstruction and preservation of collective memory. Exhibition Voices for the transformation of Colombia, set up in 2018 as a pilot for the Museum while its building is under construction, was organized into three axes: land, water, and the body. In this presentation we discuss the creation of the water axis as a way to reflect about the contributions that aesthetic representations of multiple waters afford to the goals of transitional justice. We focus on three forms of multiplicity developed in the exhibition: the multiple words people use to name bodies of water; the multiple stories people, fish and water tell about dispossession; and the multiple representations of water in the Museum. Through this analysis we ultimately seek to discuss the idea of nature as a victim of violence and subject of aesthetic representation in times of environmental degradation and growing inequality.