Medellín, 2003. Luis said I could only understand Colombia if I were to read Gabriel García Marquez in Spanish. He gave me three books: One Hundred Years of Solitude, News of a Kidnapping and En Secreto by Germán Castro Caycedo. A book about the most prominent figures in the guerilla, the paramilitary and Narco-terrorism.
Luis studied German to become a teacher and constantly asked me for translations. In reverse, I wanted him to teach me the kind of expressions my Colombian mother never taught me. But that wasn’t Luis’ cup of tea. Unlike Luis’ father Carlos. A colossus of a man, a mechanic, a jack-of-all-trades. At nighttime, he would get me drunk on brown rum. I gave my best to keep up, while we giggled about swear words. I think we had a great time. At the same time, I shot a film, collected stories, and in a moment of romance I did what I had never done before and never did again: I collected flowers, which I dried in between the pages of the books Luis had given me.
Only when moving houses I recalled the books’ existence. They remained half-read. The flowers were too big. The pages were stuck together. At the beginning of the year, they came back to my mind, when my father called to ask me whether I remembered Luis. His father had been shot. Right in front of their house. They said he attempted to chase some thugs, who had tried to steal his car. These days, the suburb is in the hands of the paramilitary.
Since 2013, every time I visit Colombia, I collect pressed plants or specific objects from this suburb, as well as books related to the Violencia. The term Violencia initially refers to a civil war-like conflict between the liberal and conservative parties from 1948-1958. Used colloquially, it refers to a topos: the armed conflict between guerrillas, the army, paramilitaries, and narcoterrorists that inscribes itself in all areas of Colombians lives. I held on to the pressed flowers not so much for their beauty. Rather, they reminded me of bursted insects on a windshield, the stains of a tangent where historiography and biography meet, where the actual cycle of violence meets its fictionalization.
A History Of Violence. Kidnapping, 2022, log on book (Gabriel García Marquez: "Noticia de un secuestro"), 41,2 x 50.6 x 24.5 cm
A History Of Violence. In secret, 2023, dried flower on book (Germán Castro Caycedo: "En secreto"), 41.2 x 50.6 x 6.5 cm