Single-channel HD video
Duration: 7’ 38”
Caquetá has long been one of Colombia’s neglected regions, where political violence, crime, and the insatiable greed of the drug trade have found new ground for their activities.
The actor in this video, entitled Caquetá, is a young officer, a lieutenant in the Colombian army who was mutilated during combat in the jungle zone of this region. He commanded a squadron of fifteen soldiers, and while clearing a path through the dense undergrowth, he was careful to not step on any land mines in a territory under enemy control.
Passing near a large tree, he activated a bomb that had been tied to its trunk. As he recounts the incident, the explosion threw him backward as if in slow motion. He remembers falling to the ground as leaves rained down on him and the tree toppled forward. He felt no pain as he was on the ground, and tried to sit up, when he realized that he had lost his hands. He screamed, asking to be killed. This horrific incident had a strong impact on me, and I thought about it for months, while also trying to determine how to handle it. The very narrative of the incident, made by a military man in my studio overlooking my garden (unfortunately, there is no record of his words) led to my decision that the correct medium for the work would be video. This also determined the video’s setting, a curtain of leaves.
But as with my previous work David, the most important aspect was the certainty of denouncing the absurdity of a fratricidal war that consumes us, like a monstrous, irrational, and bloodthirsty Goliath.
The video’s action emanates from this sense of bewilderment. The soldier cleans the war paint from his face, thus shedding any indication of his warrior condition, and does so with his mutilated arms, accepting his painful condition as a victim.
Miguel Ángel Rojas
Translated by Michelle Suderman