Friday, December 5, 2014

The N.N.s

During a bike tour this week, on the National University campus we came upon this art installation portraying a tragic and haunting chapter in Colombia's armed conflict. The artist told us that the figures, laid out to suggest a river's current, represent the corpses of murder victims which washed up along the shores of the Cauca and Magdalena rivers 'during the 1980s.'

However, from what I know, these corpses continue floating down the rivers and washing up on shore today, albeit in much smaller numbers.

In some Magdalena River towns these unidentified corpses, labeled N.N.s (ningun nombre/no name) have woven a culture of faith and belief around themselves. The people of these small towns retrieve the bodies, bury them and care for their graves, sometimes renaming them. In some cases, the idea is to give the drowned new lives. In others, the rescuers believe that by caring for the dead, the dead will repay the favor by caring for their caretakers.

Colombian-American photographer Juan Manuel Echavarría created a photography exhibit about the NNs which appeared in Colombia, the United States and Europe.

Exhibition of photos of NNs' tombs, by Juan Manuel Echavarría.

Exhibition of photos of NNs' tombs, by Juan Manuel Echavarría.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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