Memento Mori

Testament to Life (Two Volume Set)

Ileana Diéguez, Erika Diettes, Anne Tucker

Date Published :
March 2016
Publisher :
George F Thompson Publishing
Illustration :
photographs throughout
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781938086328
Pages : 248
Dimensions : 11.5 X 8.25 inches
In stock


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.

About The Author

Ileana Diéguez is a research professor in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department at Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM) in Mexico City, where she works on issues of modern and performing arts, as well as the processes pertaining to performativity and disassembly. She has curated exhibitions on these themes in Mexico and South America, and is the author of several books including Cuerpos sin duelo. Iconografías y teatralidades del dolor/Bodies Without Mourning. Iconographies and Theatricalities of Pain (Document A, 2013), and Escenarios Liminales. Teatralidades, performances y política/Liminal Stages/Scenarios. Theatricalities, Performances and Politics (Atuel 2011).

Erika Diettes is a Colombian visual artist and social anthropologist who explores issues of memory, pain, absence and death in a variety of mediums. Her work has been exhibited in unique spaces linked to re-memoration processes developed by the victims’ movements in Colombia, as well as at other venues including the Museums of Modern Art of Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, and Barranquilla in Colombia; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago de Chile, at the Museum of Fine Arts and the Fotofest Biennal in Houston, the Festival de la Luz in Buenos Aires, the Ballarat Foto Biennale in Australia, the Malta Festival in Poznań, Poland, and at CENTER in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her work is part of the permanent collection of the Museo de Antioquia (Colombia) and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

Anne Wilkes Tucker is the former Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. From 1976, when she founded the Department of Photography at MFAH, until her retirement in June 2015, she organized or co-organized more than forty exhibitions of photography, including retrospectives on Brassaï, Louis Faurer, Robert Frank, George Krause, Ray K. Metzker, Richard Misrach, and, most recently, “WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and its Aftermath,” and expanded the museum’s photographic holdings from 141 images to more than 29,000, representing work by some 4,000 artists from all seven continents. In 2001, she was named America’s best curator by TIME magazine.


"...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."

- L'Oeil De la Photographie

"...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."

- Professional Photography

"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."

- Professor Jenny Pearce, Professor of Latin American Politics at the Peace Studies Dept at the University of Bradford

"The importance of Relicarios is both as a personal memorial and as a public acknowledgement of the trauma and loss that lay in the wake of decades of violence. Its depth and authenticity derive from the collaborative nature of the process and the sensitive involvement of the bereaved whose concerns remain the central focus of the project."

- Alasdair Foster, Artlink

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