Voluntary Testimony / Versión Libre (2011)
Clemencia Echeverri works amidst a war that has affected Colombia for several decades. The difficulty in trying to communicate the truth is presented in Voluntary Confession through superimposed and broken, distorted voices from demobilized guerrillas and paramilitaries. In images that show an incomplete process of unmasking, these people can only partially reveal their identity, their past, and their feelings. Spectators confront their own difficulty in understanding, communicating, and making sense of their own feelings. They not only confront what these persons visually and verbally express, but also face large-scale male figures surrounded by unintelligible voices that uncannily move around the gallery space while being projected on hanging fabrics. Reacting to this work we could ask ourselves: where are we when we are within and in front of, Voluntary Testimony? Those who talk to us are not really there, as we are; they are only ghosts. The place where we are is a ‘venue’ in its twofold meanings: a site and an enclosed space. We are invaded by visual and audible images, gazes and voices, silences, and murmurings. We are being besieged.
In Voluntary Testimony, as in other instances such as Treno or Inherited Games, Clemencia Echeverri utilizes the totality of the hall as the space for her installation, in such a way that we, the onlookers, may find ourselves always “within.” When Boris Groys argues that the installation is the paradigmatic form of contemporary art, he ascribes to space the corporeity that is inherent to this artistic practice. The notion of space itself as a material implies, in this case, that elements of a heterogeneous nature may find there a way to be summoned sand situated, a warp that assembles and connects them. Visual and sound images, as well as words and documents, may have the most diverse origins, yet the way in which those get situated is what makes an installation singular: installation is a singular topological inscription". Interpellations are apropos of Clemencia Echeverri in Versión Libre.
For a long time, the phantom of violence and the violence of the phantom have been making their way through the Colombian artistic milieu. But aside from that, the challenge posed by Clemencia Echeverri in this piece lies, according to our interpretation, in the problematic and paradoxical mise-en-scène whereby the phantom is perceived not from the perspective of the victim – something she had done with the phantom of the desaparecido in Funeral Song – but rather from the perspective of the victimizer. The fact that the perpetrators are bound to be besieged, tormented by the phantoms of their crimes is of course an issue as ancient as the Greek tragedy. However that may be, even if guilt and remorse play parts in the mis-en-scène of Versión libre, the location where we are immersed transports us to another place, leads us to a different situation – one of enunciation and of interpellation. There, while wandering within and surrounded by a block-up space, it is actually us that are being interpellated. As Louis Althusser would have it, we set ourselves up as subjects of interpellation when we recognize ourselves as the addressees of a discourse. We are admonished to reply there, to in some way correspond, relate. In what way we do it, that is the question, as the piece throws us into the uncertainty of relating with the phantoms of the victimizers, with their interpellating discourse, their narrative, their confessions, their demands.
Gustavo Chirolla, Philosopher.
—Liminal Retrospective, Miguel Urrutia Art Museum, Banco de la República. 2019.
—From Medellín, a Colombian art scene. Musée D'art Les Abattoirs. Tolouse, France. Curators: Valentín Rodríguez and Nydia Gutiérrez. 2017.
—Luis Ángel Arango Library, 2014.
—VI version Luis Caballero Award. Production support. District Institute of Culture. Santa Fe Gallery. 2011.
Direction: Clemencia Echeverri
Video edition: Clemencia Echeverri
Camera: Javier Quintero
Sound composition: Clemencia Echeverri
Sound design: Santiago Camacho
Production assistant: Lattitude y Victor Garcés