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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Facing Medusa : (intimate) art and resistance in the Colombian armed conflict Paola, Adarve-Zuluaga


The Colombian armed conflict is one of the oldest conflicts in the world. Numbers hardly explain the damage it has caused. Artistic responses to war emerge in this context, sometimes with the purpose of exerting some form of resistance to violence. I examine the ways in which similar responses operate and can produce social change, by tracing the work of three Colombian visual creators: Erika Diettes, Jesús Abad Colorado, and Juan Manuel Echavarría. This study reveals how their practice (re) configures certain spaces as intimate public scenarios of collective spectatorship/witnessing. The investigation also speaks of the inmost relation between the victims and survivors that they work with, spectators, and the creators themselves. That relation evidences the creators’ role as companions of the people they work with in conflicted contexts. Resistance becomes a central concept with which to understand both spectatorship/witnessing acts and the companionship relation mentioned above. Ultimately, their visual practice allows publics to resist emotional paralysis when looking at the horrors of war; that is to resist “turning into stone” when looking at Medusa.

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