Year Zero is an exhibition that focuses primarily on a historical threshold in Colombian history: the assassination of presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in 1948. It is above all an effort of entering the field of power of that historical date.The idea is to metaphorically pull that image from a sepia-styled documentary world that renders it a frozen artifact of the past.
When Gaitán was killed in 1948, in the height of the early Cold War, with the Pan American Conference taking place that week in Bogotá, with Marshall et al. in the Colombian capitol and a young Fidel Castro in the streets, the multiple conjectures around his death started forming. They have not stopped since. The exhibition is interested in the matter of these narratives, but, not in the sense of trying to uncover a truth behind them, as an investigative journalist would, but in presenting them as competing narratives struggling to create a hegemonic truth. In this same manner the documents from the American diplomatic and secret services of which I have copies will be used in the video to reveal the contrast between two other narratives: on the one hand that of the country that a man like Gaitán understood and addressed, and on the other, the one narrated in these secret documents where the threat of his quick rise in the Colombian political arena was evaluated over and over, in the midst of the exacerbated Hoover paranoia… sometimes naming him a fascist, sometimes a communist, sometimes acknowledging his intellectual dimension and sometimes making him into a caricature of a Latin American populist.
The exhibition Year Zero aims to express Gaitan’s liminality both during his life when he offered his body as the bridge between the people and political power, and in his death, which marked such a tremendous threshold in the history of Colombia. Year Zero suggests the metaphorical inscription of that year in the collective memory of Colombia. The wound of Gaitan’s death has never healed. The body is literally planted upright, with the expectation that it bloom again someday. The house where he lived resembles a three-dimensional photograph, frozen on that fateful day, a table perpetually laid for lunch on April 9th 1948.