Mouths of Ash / Bocas de Ceniza
Juan Manuel Echavarria
August 13 - October 23, 2005
Echavarría was one of the twelve artists included in the recent Museum exhibition, The Disappeared. This is his first comprehensive solo museum exhibition in the US. He spent thirty years as a novelist before turning to conceptual photography and video in 1997 in order to confront the violence that rules his own country.
In the fifteen-minute video Mouths of Ash seven Colombians, in the oral tradition of Colombia’s Pacific region, sing into the camera songs they have composed after surviving massacres.
Echavarría’s work speaks to the pervasiveness and the frightening ‘normality’ of violence in Colombia after fifty years of civil war. By turning his camera to the blind spots in the social fabric of Colombia, Echavarría creates a record of violence everywhere. Among his works are Retratos/Portraits—lush, formal depictions of decaying mannequins from a city marketplace who become stand-ins for Colombia’s embattled peasants. A close examination of the “botanical illustrations” of Corte de floreo/Flower Vase Cut reveals compositions of human bones, each print an allusion to a formalized body mutilation. A dark beauty also informs Echavarría’s newest work N N (no name). This large photographic montage speaks to the decay and destruction that inevitably accompanies violence against both the individual and the larger collective society.
The exhibition and bilingual catalog are funded by:
This project is supported in part by a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Programming is supported in part by a grant from the City of Grand Forks through the North Valley Arts Council.