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Memory in Movement

El Colectivo/The Collective

El Collectivo emerged in response to an urgent need for critical perspectives on the memory that pervades our classrooms, scholarly publications, and museum galleries. Our objective is to pose open-ended questions about the official narratives of the past that compose the social imaginaries of the present; to undo the fabric of these memories by starting with the loose ends. The idea is not to create a new memory but rather to loosen the existing skein in order to create new patterns of weaving.

El Colectivo moves by way of actions, golpes—coups—of memory, using propitious stages for such encounters: streets, public plazas, cafés, Internet portals. The motivations of the collective can be summarized as three: to make visible the continuities and ruptures between events/processes of the past and the present; to commemorate the un-commemorated in order to make space for those actors and processes that have been marginalized by hegemonic narratives; to de-naturalize and displace the "national history" in order to make room for dissident memory.

Golpes (Coups) of Memory

Mataron a Gaitán/Gaitán vive • They killed Gaitán/Gaitán lives-9 April 2008.

Our collective voice rose for the first time. We received death with a shout that announced that of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán.1 Neither his death nor his voice will leave us. Both spurred us to life; in his name we fill our lungs and speak today, as he spoke yesterday, and we say: we are not cowards, we are not asleep, we are not dead! And our lives were joined as were our voices, and we allowed ourselves to speak as a collective to remember that our present is not so different from our past, and that the power to bring about change lies in our hands.

Hay cosas que estorban • There are things that disturb-18 May 2008.

We sought to commemorate the un-commemorated: the manifesto The Rights of Indigenous Women in Colombia that was signed in 1927 by 14,000 indigenous women-an act that inspired us to reclaim rights that still have not been recognized: the right to the land, to justice, to exercise citizenship, and to protection from discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, religion, or ideology.

Cabildo abierto, 25 días de levantamiento popular • Town meeting, 25 days of popular uprising-20 July-30 August 2008.

In the context of the celebration of national independence, we sought to question official accounts of it, interrogating its significance through actions that were collective, continuous, and quotidian.

Palacio de Guerra/Tanque de Justicia • Palace of War/Tank of Justice-6 November 2008.

We aimed to call attention to the four axes that link the massacre at the Palacio de Justicia (Bogotá, 1985) with our present: (i) the repeated use of violence as means to silence conflict; (ii) forced disappearances; (iii) the silencing of and disregard for justice (iv) the smoke and mirrors that are created to encourage forgetting.

Massacres in las Bananeras-December 2008.

This golpe is an invitation to contagion insofar as it seeks to place the Banana Massacres in the context of the everyday life of the consumer through a reflection on the process of banana production.

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  1. 1 Jorge Eliécer Gaitán (1903-1948) was leader of the populist Liberal Party in Colombia, former Education Minister, Labor Minister, and former mayor of Bogotá. His assassination 9 April 1948 set off the extensive riots and repression known as the "Bogotazo," which in turn inaugurated a period of violent political unrest known as "La Violencia" (the violence) that lasted until 1958.