Art as a form of denunciation and reparation in the post-conflict

Among the discussion panels held at the Externado XVIII Constitutional Law Conference,” one of the most interesting was the one on Art and Peace, where the conversation revolved around the question: How does art contribute to the coexistence pursued by the Peace Agreement?

The discussion featured participation by a former combatant of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) (Revolutionary armed forces of Colombia); Navy Lieutenant; a plastic artist, and Externado professors and researchers.

The participants believe art can be considered an accusation object, and, to corroborate this point of view, they showed a painting by a demobilized FARC woman describing the murder of her spouse and son by an armed group.

For María Eugenia Trujillo, Colombian artist, art helps to heal, to visualize what one has, what one has felt, and what one has gone through. For this reason, the Government has the responsibility to include artistic expressions in the reconciliation process between armed groups and victims.  Also, on the other hand, the Government should take into account artistic works in legal proceedings; that is, works should be considered as a form of denouncement.

According to Liliana Castellanos, FARC member for 26 years and current militant of the Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común, “Through art we can reach violent people, we want the future not to know war. I have never had a day of peace; we do not want any more war (…). Art has a huge potential; we want to express ourselves through art.”

Another issue addressed at this panel, was the subject of gender. Two of the panelists explained the role of women in the armed forces. Juanita Millán, Navy Lieutenant, and political scientist, explained that women in the Navy participate in the planning of combat strategies, without direct involvement in the struggle. However, this position does not protect them from being victims of violence, as judges, attorneys, and nurses have also been killed during the conflict by other armed actors.

According to Liliana, in the FARC, all women achievements were in battle, in the war. Before the weapons surrender, 42 percent of the FARC were women.

Regarding the above issues related to art, peace, and gender, the Externado Library has opened the exhibit Exvotos, depicting, in general,  through art, everyday behaviors enabling the violation of women’s Human Rights in Colombia. The exhibit seeks to generate a constitutional reflection on the current situation of the country and focuses on the contribution of art in the “resignifying” of painful facts. Exvotos will be open until February 2018.