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Last Friday was World Photo Day and if it showed us anything it’s that one photo can be so much more powerful than a lot of text. Of all the stories written about Syrian refugees the photo of a small boy lying drowned on a beach will remain with me forever, more so than anything I read.
It is no wonder then that photographers are using their art to make a statement, to cut through all the noise of text and to make us sit up and look at their images.
Photographers like Spencer Tunick an American artist-photographer best known for organising large-scale nude installations. Since 1990 he has photographed over 90 human installations around the world. He was recently commissioned by Bogota’s Modern Art Museum and Johnnie Walker to create a naked art instillation entitled “Keep Walking Colombia“
What is Keep Walking Colombia?
Daniel Leahy, Global Content Director at Johnnie Walker, said: “It is a privilege for us to be able to help get these incredibly inspiring stories out into the world. Johnnie Walker has always stood for progress and last year we launched a campaign that explored the idea that a positive outlook can help people achieve that”.
Keep Walking Colombia tells the stories of five Colombians who, despite their history of conflict, believe in a better tomorrow. Working with Spencer Tunick has allowed us to tell these inspiring, human stories which highlight the bravery, the positivity, and the willingness of those affected by unimaginable tragedy and adversity to build a better tomorrow.
And while this is a Colombian story, we believe the sentiment of optimism and positivity as a route towards progress is something that will resonate with people all over the world.”
One of those five Colombians is Wilson Barreto was blinded by a FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) bomb attack in Bogotá when he was just 19. He was one of more than 6,000 people from all sides of the Colombian civil war who posed nude at Bolívar Square, Bogotá, to make a stand for peace in this unifying art installation
“Right wing or left wing, nude we are equal,” says Wilson Barreto.
In the film, Wilson stands with Luis, the FARC commander responsible for the bomb attack that cost him his sight – a man he now considers a very good friend. Wilson features in the powerful short film alongside civilian victim Pilar Navarrete, ex-army officer Pablo Emilio Moncayo, ex-right wing paramilitary activist Ederlidia Garizao and Maria Esperanza Sierra, a former FARC combatant.
Pilar Navarrete’s husband disappeared during the siege at the Palace of Justice in Bogotá in 1985 and his body was never found. Pilar said of her participation in the nude photograph and documentary:
I feel like I’m paying homage. I’m going to bare my soul and my body and tell everyone about Hector Jaime Beltrán.
I’m very proud of the Colombian people. We’ve experienced a lot of pain but we are still smiling. We want and aim to be a country that includes everybody.
Pablo Moncayo, who was held captive by FARC for 12 years, said:
We are all equal. Whatever differences you may see, we all have blood in our veins; we are all made of skin and bones
How different would the world be if we all had that view?
You can watch the film here: