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  • Artistic Discourse in Colombian Experience/Exposition
  • Elizabeth Coonrod Martínez

Our first issue of 2019 had roots in a theme both beautiful and distressing, presenting the voices and knowledge seldom sought or acknowledged of Latin American Indigenous peoples, while exposing the terrible impact of ongoing multinational projects of extractivism in their communities. Interestingly, the United Nations declared 2019 to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages. The creative work in that issue included examples in Native languages. Sadly, however, during production for the issue we learned of the passing of honored poet Humberto Ak'abal, who had graciously offered a poem for that issue.

Now, this new issue's theme reveals another aspect of invisibility to the outside world, unceasing violence in Colombia, perpetrated through official means and discourse. When that word is raised, outside nations often attribute violence only to the FARC rebels and might think that with peace accords signed between the Colombian government and the rebel leaders in 2018, harsh treatment and terrible impact on human beings has ended. And yet, as Latin Americanists often know, the force of state-sponsored paramilitaries has been, and still is, ever present.

State-perpetrated violence against humanity has been, for generations, the means of state control. Documented often in works of literature—as María Acosta points out, in Gabriel García Márquez's world-renowned work, One Hundred Years of Solitude, it is an intractable violence, accepted and promoted through various means of official discourse, including media propaganda. Artists employ innovative subtleties to communicate ongoing, strategic violence. The present issue is a unique and heartrending presentation, with analysis of art expositions, performance art, film, and the television media.

Through the exhibits and related artistic media discussed here, the team of philosophers who organized and collected this special topic issue—philosophers who have been in consultation for years over artistic projects and political actions—relate the history behind the peace accord negotiations, contemporary history in Colombia, and the state's institutionalized violence.

This issue's contemplation of life in Colombia, through art, could easily invite needed studies on state violence in other Latin American nations, a discussion regularly ignored by the outside world. It is art in its many forms that opens commentary on the human condition; as noted by nineteenth-century French artist Edgar Degas, "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." Or as US artist Georgia O'Keeffe said, "To create one's own world in any of the arts takes courage."

Articles here discuss such artists as José Alejandro Restrepo, Clemencia Echeverri, Mario Niño Villamizar, and María José Arjona; presentations by two workshops—Taller de Gráfica Popular and Taller 4 Rojo; commentary on literary works, films, and documentaries; and analysis of the verses of several Colombian poets who responded to a scholar's call for reflections on violence, nature, and memory. Our fervent hope is that these words inspire further contemplation and new areas of research, in terms of what is seen and not seen.

The clusters of bananas on the cover of the present issue, a photograph from the installation Musa paradisiaca by José Alejandro Restrepo, may conjure impressions of simple bananas and abundance; harvest; ideas about Central America and possibly the negative term banana republics; and the discourse behind an art exhibit, perhaps the impact on and representation of a people. Interactions with these exhibits, as the articles demonstrate, lead to deeper levels of understanding.

The insightful introduction by the guest thematic editors maps this theme, elucidating details about the participants and how their expertise delineates the abilities of art to open discourse and evaluation. We are so pleased to feature within the issue a second Colombian artist, Juan Manuel Echavarria, who graciously provided some of his heartrending images from two important series. [End Page 1]

Participant Tania Ganitsky (who studies the selection of Colombian poets' voices) additionally shares her own poems, leading our Rincón creativo selections, which also includes marvelous stories and poems, and concludes with a project by our outgoing Creative Editor Juana Iris Goergen: two poetry workshops for undergraduate students, led by two prominent poets. Finally, the excellent book reviews offer a...


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