Nominated for the 2016 IPPY Award in both the Photography and Current Events categories.
Memento Mori: Testament to Life is a poignant tribute to the victims of Colombia's armed conflict that has claimed more than 250,000 people during the last fifty years. The book is presented as four bodies of photographic work in a two-volume, bi-lingual edition: English and Spanish.
The first volume includes hauntingly beautiful images of Diettes's photographic work on display at museums and at memorials in areas where the victims "disappeared,” a moving statement by the artist herself, an essay by Mexican scholar Ileana Diéguez, and an extensive conversation with the artist by Anne Wilkes Tucker, former Curator of Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
The second volume showcases the plates from three photographic series: Sudarios (Shrouds), photographs printed on linen of women who have witnessed atrocities committed against their loved ones, Río Abajo (Drifting Away), images of articles of clothing of "the disappeared,” photographed in water and embedded in glass, and Relicarios (Reliquaries), three-dimensional works of polymer containing mementos and personal effects of the victims.
At once majestic, accessible, and deeply moving, this book makes a significant contribution not only to documentary art, contemporary Latin American studies, and social anthropology but also to those wanting to understand, at a very basic level, the human cost of terrorism. As Anne Wilkes Tucker writes, Erika Diettes's unforgettable book speaks "of universal loss from violent death.” And it is through her art that we learn how to grieve from such loss.
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...goes beyond documentary images of war, suffering and grief to give a human face to the universal issues of social injustice and the cost of terrorism. A powerful and moving memorial to the victims of Colombia's ongoing armed conflict between the guerrillas and the government - where the number of people killed over the past 50 years totals more than 250,000 - Memento Mori includes three bodies of work originating from the direct testimonies of the families of the victims, as well as in objects belonging to them.
...haunting tribute to the more than a quarter of million Colombians who have ‘disappeared' in the last half century. Diettes' images explore memory, pain and death, and the work has been artfully divided into four bodies over two volumes. With accompanying essays by Ileana Diéguez, an interview with the artist by Anne Wilkes Tucker and texts by Diettes herself, this is a poignant and thought provoking book.
"For those of us who have worked with Latin American violences, it is sometimes difficult to know what can still touch people when the everyday pervasiveness of suffering has become a backcloth to life. These photographs show the power of the image to reach and disturb us. Disappearance is a special form of daily torture, for its victims, of course, but especially for those who love them. Its systematic practice in Latin America, and in particular Colombia, highlights the cruelty of somatic politics in the region. With no body, there is no crime. With no body, the grief is tinged with hope. These photographs communicate this anguish, by focussing on three dimensions of what remains and reminds when a loved some body has become no body."