Works of art are so many windows into the inner life of the culture and of ourselves as members of the culture.
Arthur C. Danto, The Abuse of Beauty
The series RE-TRATOS (portraits) is part of the project Clinical Evidence, which started in 2006 with the collaboration of a group of women from Medellín, affected directly or indirectly by domestic violence (gender associated violence).
The project which has gone through different moments, carried out in its most recent phase the intervention of permanent collections of the Museo Nacional in Bogotá, by substituting some portraits with photographs of women over whose faces the physical evidence of a beating had been reconstructed by means of forensic art. The photographs which have pictorial character were inserted in the beginning of the 20th century, without altering the habitual disposition of the museums. The visitors unexpectedly found them integrated into the collection.
RE-TRATOS outlines a relationship of “uncomfortable hospitality”: the collection harbors for a period of time “certain images of women” that, being produced by the culture, at the same time are denied and subject to a process of shame and concealment. These “annoying guests” benefit from their hosts – The Museum, The Collection – while they “contaminate them,” clearly showing the signs of a collective condition that is usually ignored.
These beaten women propose an active dialogue between the official history of art and culture with other fragments of history absent in the museum.
Furthermore, when camouflaged among founders’ portraits and prominent figures of the society of an earlier era, the project seeks to point out the violence against women as a historical condition and, at the same time, to question the presuppositions of the representations in museums.
Finally, the spectator who goes to the museum with an attitude of placid contemplation is confronted with his ideas of beauty and models of feminine representation.
Libia Posada with the collaboration of 50 women from Medellín and Carlos Tobon, from the series: “RE-TRATOS” (Portraits), 2007, digital impressions on paper