BY: JESSICA BEUKER
For the first time in over 50 years, Colombians from all sides of the conflict have put their differences aside to come together in the hope of a better future.
On June 5, 2016, artist Spencer Tunick invited Colombians from all sides to take part in his unifying art installation. Tunick, who is well known for organizing large-scale nude photo shoots, and has so far completed over 75 installations across the globe, gathered 6,000 volunteers at Bolívar Square in Bogotá to stand together naked. It was his largest installation in six years.
The documentary short, Keep Walking Colombia, was directly inspired by the installation, which saw former enemies choose peace over war. The film, from Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá (MAMBO) and Johnnie Walker, traces the lives of five Colombians from their experiences with the war, up until the installation, and outlines their reasons for participating. “My husband was abducted and disappeared following the Palace of Justice siege. On 6th November, it will be 30 years and six months since I last saw my husband,” says one woman fighting back tears. “I’m going to bare my soul and my body to tell everyone who he was.”
Discussing her reasons for participating in the Tunick installation another woman says, “It’s about putting aside stigma and opening our hearts. We should all accept ourselves for what we are: human beings. Then we can start rebuilding our country.”
For more than half a century, Colombia and its people have been torn apart by one of the world’s longest wars. More than 220,000 people have died, with an additional five million people forced to evacuate their homes. Most of these people were civilians.
The stories in the film serve as both a reminder of the past, but more importantly as a window to the future. They show that the people of Colombia simply want to be treated with love and respect, regardless of political or religious beliefs.
The installation is a true testament to the strength of the people of Colombia who have demonstrated the courage it takes to be vulnerable, honest and forgiving towards people who were at one point their enemies. Tunick’s installation strips away the labels to point to a larger truth – we are all made equal. “Whatever difference you may see,” says a participant in the video, “we all have blood in our veins, we’re all made of skin and bones.”
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