In the same area central to Sin Cielo (Skyless), cracks start to appear and progressively become bigger and deeper until they cause a landslide. The ground surface is destabilized as it is during an earthquake. Sub_terra shows the motion, the spasm, or symptoms of ‘telluric pain’ suffered by the body of a landscape, which communicates the violence it has mutely witnessed in its radical precariousness.
As the earth within it is torn towards the vortex of the absurd and its anguished terror, Sub_terra is a work that cannot be completely stabilized by thought, it resists a fixed "geography", both literal and symbolic, of meaning, and swallows ideas while making them explode from within due to the affections that it arouses. Maybe that which beats under the earth, under the skin of the earth, in that sub-cutaneous and sub-terrestrial region that emerges in the fractures that the work reveals, is the movement, the spasm or the symptom, so to speak, of a "telluric pain", of affections inscribed in the body of the landscape that speaks to us of the violence to which the landscape itself is a silent witness in its radical precariousness. A bird's-eye view (the shot with which the video installation begins, little by little expanding images that from far away become lost, hidden, escape...), the fragile brutality of Sub_terra resides, precisely, in this resistance to thinking of the landscape as a passive scenario or backdrop to the violent dynamics that interweave, but at the same time exceed, the category of "conflict" (a category, incidentally, that will have to be reformulated to account for such excesses in their mutation or their survival "post-conflict"). As already announced in the bloodshed of the mountains of Marmato, which is recorded in Sin Cielo, the apparent passivity of the landscape is not opposed in the work to the activities of the human actors usually associated with hegemonic discourses on violence in Colombia. Rather, its precarious materiality is placed in the foreground as a space of inscription, but also as an enunciation, of the human and non-human wounds in which social violence becomes environmental violence and vice versa.
The land is exploited as a cheap raw material, the same land that since Colombia has existed as Colombia has been in violent dispute (I think of colonial and postcolonial extraction, nineteenth-century latifundianism, the agrarian origin of the conflict and, of course, the more or less invisible mining wars of today), the same land that speaks its deafening language of silence in Sub_terra. The earth speaks, responds: in these unshelled images, its mute voice reveals how the traces of the most structural violence in our society – inequality, extreme poverty, misery, classism, and racism – leave other forms of violence in their wake, perhaps more structural and more irreparable, in the ground on which we are standing, on which our history pretends to be erected. The use of archival material does not make the earth space for its tranquil, comfortable or self-indulgent fixation in human memory; the earth, in other words, is not the "tabula rasa" on which history can always be rewritten as if it were an infinite resource, infinitely available, infinitely fertile and infinitely passive. Quite the opposite: under the cracked body of the earth that screams in Sub_terra there is no certainty of foundation, only the infinite vertigo of that other history, that other time and, with it, that other memory that moves like a latent avalanche, an inaudible tremor, the node of an earthquake in formation. From the depths projected to the surface of the screen, which is swallowed in the end in its chaos, the tired earth demands the repair of its violence, which is also ours, which also vibrates in each of our steps: the repair, as paradoxical as it is necessary, of what is increasingly presented as an irreparable waste dump. From Nóctulo there is a turn in the work of Echeverri, or in one of its aspects, towards this exploration of nature as a space of reverberation for a traumatic or, perhaps better, an affective memory that goes beyond – or draws closer to – the exclusively subjective record of violence in the history of the country. This gaze is more than urgent when thinking about the future of the human and the nonhuman in their mutually violent imbrication, because the precariousness of the bodies, of the earth and of the Earth, has an increasingly urgent and painful limit. The call of this screen, made of skin made landscape, is imperious for its incontestable character: there is no organic, inorganic, or virtual skin that resists everything.
By: Juan Diego Pérez, Philosopher.
Location: Marmato municipality, Caldas. Gold mining.
Director: Clemencia Echeverri
Director of photography: Camilo Echeverri
Edition: Víctor Garcés y Clemencia Echeverri