The configuration of the space of death  

On how the metabolism of terror, inherited from colonial practices such as slavery and exploitation, has permeated in different times and contexts and has replicated itself. On how the orchestration of fear and the muffling of memories inhabit an extension that demarcates a space of death as the point of silencing is not to erase memory but to direct it to the depths of a personal retreat (Michael Taussig). There, dream and reality interlace in a worldly nightmare whose pockmarked landscape holds the traces of displacements and migrations, disappearances and deaths, putting to the test how bodies and objects are presented and re-presented, and assessing their ability to bear witness and tell a story.

Fredi Casco

Pascua dolorosa

Mixed media on three old worksheets
8 1/2 x 13 in each

Courtesy the artist, KADIST collection

Fredi Casco (Asunción, 1967) drew the series Pascua dolorosa [Painful Easter] on old record sheets documenting the exploitation of the land in the logging region of Caapucú, Paraguay. It was in this district where one of the most violent episodes in the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner (1954–1989) took place in 1976. The event during which peasants were kidnapped, tortured and many of them killed, became known as Pascua dolorosa (Painful Easter). There is no official account of how many people died since they lacked identity papers and did not officially exist for the State. In 2009, human bone remains were found that are believed to belong to the workers killed in 1976.

Edgardo Aragón

Mesoamericana (New Grand Civilizations), Economic activities

Toner and pencil on paper
26 3/4 x 45 3/4 in

Courtesy the artist, KADIST collection

Edgardo Aragón (Oaxaca, 1985) addresses the violence generated by the structures of power, creating narratives that interweave his family history and the political reality of Mexico. The artist has created a series of maps that refer, among other things, to the way in which different globalized economies (formal and informal, including drug trafficking) have changed the continent’s geography and its social dynamics.

Naufus Ramírez Figueroa

Guardian 2 

Carved mahogany wood
43 1/4 x 56 1/4 x 22 3/4 in

Courtesy the artist, KADIST collection

Naufus Ramírez Figueroa

Obsidian Clock: Ante Meridiem

Eight woodcuts printed on black paper
15 1/2 x 15 1/2 in each

Courtesy the artist and Proyectos Ultravioleta, Guatemala City

In this series of works presented across the first and second gallery, Naufus Ramírez Figueroa explores the historical memory and political reality of the ruins of Kawinal, an archeological site of postclassic Mayan culture that was flooded in order to construct the hydroelectric dam of Chixoy in 1975 in a supposed effort to bring electricity to the country. However, the reality was that the communities living in the area faced the swamping of their lands and properties, and endured the loss of their sacred sites. Those who refused to relocate became the victims—many of which were women and children—of what came to be known as the 1982 massacre of Río Negro at the hands of the military, the spectral traces of which still pervade behind the natural and cultural landscape of the region. Ramírez Figueroa revisits the political history of this event and other communities, to elaborate a narrative that offers a critical perspective on the grim consequences of an armed conflict, which emerges from the social landscape and cultural horizon of the region.

In Naufus Ramírez Figueroa’s practice (Guatemala City, 1978) narrative and performance are interwoven through the use of sculptural objects that frequently link pre-Columbian civilizations, colonial times and the contemporary history of the artist’s native Guatemala. His work is inhabited by hybrid creatures combining human figures, animal or vegetable forms, which haunt the history of its country and his own autobiography.

Jorge Julián Aristizábal

La masacre de El Aro

Watercolour and mixed media on paper
70 7/8 x 80 3/4 in

Courtesy the artist, KADIST collection

La masacre de El Aro [The Massacre of El Aro] refers to a massacre in Colombia which occurred on October 22, 1997 in the municipality of Ituango, Department of Antioquia. Fifteen individuals accused of being leftist supporters of FARC were massacred by paramilitary groups. Perpetrators also raped women, burned down forty-three houses, stole cattle and forcibly displaced nine hundred people. The work, comprising three parts, belongs to a series in which the artist depicted some of the most infamous Colombian scandals of the last years in a colorful and scholarly style in a reference to the wall newspapers habitually made by schoolchildren. For this series, the artist was inspired by a question from a young relative during a family dinner about the nature of the investigation known as Proceso 8000. As with many of his pieces, Jorge Julián Aristizábal’s explicit intention in this body of work is to speak out against the way in which such events tend to be quickly forgotten.

Jorge Julián Aristizábal (Medellín, 1962) is interested in creating images that awaken the language of the unconscious and that not only present “ideas” but that can also challenge and dispute those very ideas. His figurativism has served to question the values of what he describes as the double standards that pervade contemporary Colombian society, from the prejudices on private decisions such as sexuality and religious filiation, to public concern over issues such as corruption and the political environment in which the artist exists.

Pável Aguilar

El pueblo es superior a sus líderes

19:43 min


Courtesy the artist and Foro.Space, Bogot. Please click here to listen to the piece

Pável Aguilar (Tegucigalpa, 1989) is interested in the dissemination of political discourse of historical leaders in the continent. In El pueblo es superior a sus líderes [The people are superior to their leaders], he focuses on Colombian President Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, one of the main liberal world leaders in the first half of the twentieth century. The artist created a musical composition from the sound intonation of the last speech that Gaitán delivered prior to his murder on April 9, 1948, which resulted in the popular uprising known as El Bogotazo.

The execution of Gaitán, head of the Liberal Party, unleashed a wave of protests that expanded from Bogotá to other cities and regions in the country, triggering the era known as La Violencia (Violence). The duration of this historical episode, that for some covers the 1948-1958 decade, is still debated as its consequences have lasted longer than imagined, adding to the many reasons that unleashed a complex internal armed conflict in which the Public Force, various guerrillas, paramilitary groups, drug dealers and criminal gangs have participated to this day.

Nohemí Pérez

Apuntes para Panorama de Catacumbo 1, 2, 3, 4

11 x 15 in each

Courtesy the artist, KADIST collection

The epicenter of the aesthetic universe of Nohemí Pérez (Tibú, Colombia, 1962) is the Catatumbo, an isolated region bordering Venezuela that has remained invisible to modern development. There are many factors that affect not only the territory but also the bodies that inhabit it, as well as their material and immaterial history. Due to the peculiar geographical situation of Catatumbo, the exploitation of its resources and its people have been constant, responding to different economic interests such as the oil and gold rush, as well as drug trafficking. Much of the artist's work, including Apuntes para Panorama de Catacumbo 1, 2, 3, 4 [Notes for Panorama de Catatumbo 1, 2,3, 4], responds to the need to preserve the memory of a landscape that has been highly affected by war, displacement and armed conflict.

Alfredo López Morales

Untitled (Inspired by El Pistaku by Nicario Jiménez Quisoe),

Plaster, wood, and paint
23 1/4 x 13 1/2 x 3 1/2 in


This altarpiece by Alfredo López Morales finds its inspiration in a piece by Nicario Jiménez (Alcamenca, Perú, 1957) that refers to the Pishtaku, an Andean folk figure who supposedly slaughtered his victims, mostly poor peasants, to extract the fat from their corpses. Traditionally he was depicted as a hairy man with a white skin and light colored eyes. His physical features were frequently associated with the image of the Catholic priest during colonial times. It was believed that priests used the human fat from members of their parishes to heal their wounds and to grease the bells of the churches so that their sound could have a greater reach. As Perú became an industrialized country, the Pishtaku was thought to have diversified its practices and sold the fat as lubricant for engines and as fuel for airplanes and rockets. Later, during the 1980’s, the social imaginary associated it with the presence of military agents, from both local and foreign governments. Rumors also circulated stating that the country's foreign debt could be paid with human fat.
In any case, the figure of the Pishtaku refers to the systematic exploitation of indigenous populations, and is relevant for many people to understand how a movement like Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) was born and took root in Perú.