Art Violence and Social Engagement in Colombia Research Proposal

Pages: 58 (19788 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 35  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature - Latin-American

¶ … Colombia is the third-largest recipient of military aid from the United States and is at a critical juncture in its turbulent history. More than three million people have been displaced in Colombia during the past decade alone, and violent deaths and kidnappings remain alarmingly high. While violence is nothing new to the people of Colombia, their response to its sources and causes have been portrayed in the visual arts in various ways, with one of the most recent manifestations of this being portrayal such as the "The Skin of Memory," developed by the anthropologist Pilar Riano-Alcala and the artist Suzanne Lacy in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team in Colombia. Because art must also serve a social function and civic responsibility, this thesis evaluates the social role of artists such as Alejandro Obregon, Debora Arango, Beatriz Gonzalez, Doris Salcedo and art projects such as "The Skin of Memory" in examining and understanding the problem of violence in Colombia, as an active element, witness, interpreter and mediator, and the relationship between artists and social and political violence in Colombia since 1948. To this end, a review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature concerning the phases of violence experienced by Colombia over the past several decades is followed by a series of case studies of prominent Colombian artists and their interpretation and interpolation of these violent events. A summary of the research and salient findings are presented in the conclusion.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

Download full Download Microsoft Word File
paper NOW!
II. Background on the history of violence in Colombia

III. Art and the Political Violence of 1948-1958 and the Revolutionary Violence of the 1960s -1980s

a. Case study: Alejandro Obregon

b. Case study: Deborah Arango

IV. Aesthetic Responses to Terroristic and Narcotic Violence in the 1980s and 1990s

a. Case study: Beatriz Gonzalez

b. Case study: Doris Salcedo

V. Surviving Violence, a New Millennium

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Art Violence and Social Engagement in Colombia Assignment

a. Case study: Public art project: La piel de la memoria (the Skin of Memory)

V. Conclusions

The Face of Violence: Art as Witness, Interpreter and Mediator of Violence in Colombia


Throughout history, art has been one of the most fundamental methods humans have used to express and interpret the world in which they exist. As a result, from early cave paintings to modern art, artists have historically and traditionally been the witnesses, interpreters and mediators of the most important events to swirl around and shape humankind. Indeed, the inherent value of such expressive portrayals is not a vague or ephemeral thing, but rather represents for many victims of violence, "a window between worlds" by helping them to transition out of a painful past into a more hopeful future, recovering their sense of safety, power, possibility, and self-identity.

Today, many artists around the world are using their media in this fashion in ways that differ in form and style but which share a common sense of expression concerning the futility and dreadful costs associated with the mindless violence that continues to plague mankind.

Moreover, therapists and clinicians are increasingly turning to art and art therapy to help their patients express themselves and to come to grips with their inner turmoil that cannot be adequately articulated in words alone

. For instance, Kalmanowitz and Lloyd emphasize that, "In art therapy, making art, like poetry, may provide a place in which pain can live alongside joy, symbols and metaphor can represent that which is beyond human comprehension, memories can be expressed and witnessed, with no illusion."

It quickly becomes apparent that there are no illusions involved when it comes to the day-to-day violence that has been part of the lives of the people of Colombia for the past five decades and it is in the vein that art can play an important role in mitigating the impact of that violence on the victims and their families.

Clearly, then, art holds some universal qualities that are important for people of all walks of life in all cultures, and understanding how these perceptions play out today has assumed both new relevance and importance in a violent world. To this end, this study evaluates the social role of artists such as Alejandro Obregon, Debora Arango, Beatriz Gonzalez, Doris Salcedo among others, and art projects such as "The Skin of Memory" in examining and understanding the problem of violence in Colombia, as an active element, witness, interpreter and mediator, and the relationship between artists and the social and political violence that wracked Colombia throughout the 20th century and these issues are discussed further below.

Background on the History of Violence in Colombia.

Unfortunately, violence is certainly nothing new to the people of Colombia. Throughout their recent history, the country has been plagued by violence of all sorts, including the politically motivated violence that took place during the 1950s, the guerilla uprisings that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, and the drug trafficking-fueled violence that characterized the 1980s and 1990s, and indeed, to the present day. In addition, other types of violence have also included the institutional corruption that has resulted in the displacement of huge numbers of peasants and indigenous people, a process that continues to the present. Clearly, Colombians have historically experienced violence from a wide range of sources in ways that have overshadowed or least at affected virtually all other aspects of their lives. This is not to say, of course, that every single Colombian citizen has been a casualty of this ongoing violence, but it is to say that it is reasonable to assert that everyone in Colombia is a victim of this violence because of the profound impact that these events have had on the nation's citizenry over the years and its resulting collective consciousness as these events continue to affect many people in all walks of life. For instance, according to the Public Issues Committee of the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches

, "In Colombia, the armed conflict between political actors has largely affected the civil society. Because of this confrontation, thousands, mostly innocent people, have died and more than three million people have been internally displaced. The conflict has gone beyond national borders, having a serious impact on neighboring countries."

In response, church leaders throughout Colombian have strengthened their work with victims and have repeatedly asked the government of Colombia and armed groups to look for a negotiated solution of the conflict which could bring peace with justice.

Likewise, artists of every persuasion have used their media to highlight these events in ways that memorialize and evoke memories of these events to ensure that the victims are not forgotten and the perpetrators are known today and to history. This legacy of grim and bloody reality has a lengthy history, though, which is discussed further below.

Political Violence between 1948 and 1958. The political violence that plagued Colombia throughout the mid-20th century was sufficiently severe during the decade of 1948 to 1958 to earn its own name. According to Amnesty International USA's Advocacy Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Carlos Salinas, "Colombia has been ruled for decades by two political parties, Liberal and Conservative, whose struggles have led to civil wars and regional conflicts. During their last conflict, La Violencia (from 1948 to 1953), 145,000 people were killed. For years following, the two parties collaborated in a power sharing arrangement that excluded other political views. However, the hegemony enjoyed by these two parties exacerbated Colombia's inequitable distribution of wealth."

In fact, the period 1948 to 1958 was a particularly turbulent overall time for the people of Colombia, but actually represented three distinct and major phases of political violence in the country. The first phase which lasted from 1946 to 1949, was characterized by the progressive dissolution of the political framework at the national level and escalating sectarian violence in many parts of provincial Colombia. The assassination of Gaitan on April 9, 1948, represented the most important event of the period that ended in November 1949, when two-party government ceased to exist in Colombia. The second phase of the violence in this decade occurred between November 1949 and June 1953, when the Violencia was in its most generalized form, usually exhibiting its "traditional" sectarian face. In other words, the majority of acts of Violencia could be attributed to various exchanges that occurred between actors from the Conservative regime which was in power in the government's capital and actors from the Liberal party, where the actors could be either ordinary civilians or political-minded guerrillas.

Phase three was started by a military coup that took place on June 13, 1953, which was led by General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla.

Thereafter, the "violence" that was part of the Violencia period declined significantly during his first year in power; however, the bloodshed quickly resumed and persisted until Pinilla's downfall on May 10, 1957.

Although not as widespread during the third phase as during the second, violence nevertheless achieved its most complex point under the rule of Rojas. In addition to traditional sectarian fighting, there was also a series of military campaigns launched… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

Two Ordering Options:

Which Option Should I Choose?
1.  Download full paper (58 pages)Download Microsoft Word File

Download the perfectly formatted MS Word file!

- or -

2.  Write a NEW paper for me!✍🏻

We'll follow your exact instructions!
Chat with the writer 24/7.

Art History Essay

Art of Colonial Latin America Research Paper

Art Consumption Essay

Art in South America and the Pacific Term Paper

Art Development of Artistic Concepts Essay

View 200+ other related papers  >>

How to Cite "Art Violence and Social Engagement in Colombia" Research Proposal in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Art Violence and Social Engagement in Colombia.  (2008, November 24).  Retrieved October 25, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Art Violence and Social Engagement in Colombia."  24 November 2008.  Web.  25 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Art Violence and Social Engagement in Colombia."  November 24, 2008.  Accessed October 25, 2021.