from October 6, 2020 to November 16, 2020
Conference: Tuesday October 6, 2020
For this second exhibition of the academic year, the Sorbonne Artgallery is honored to present the intense and poetic photographic work that the artist Marc Lathuillière brought back to us from Colombia last March, before the pandemic froze the world. The photographer, widely recognized for his geopolitical captures, once again immerses us in the heart of issues which, despite our distance, challenges us and puts us in immediate contact with the heart of a region of the world in complete reconfiguration.
With Crecer, Resistir (“grow, resist”), Marc Lathuillière lifts the veil on a new project carried out at the start of the year in Urabá, a conflict zone in northern Colombia, on the border with Panama. For this, the artist spent several weeks immersed in three Afro-descendant communities in peaceful resistance against armed, narco-paramilitary and agro-industrial groups. Controlling the region, monitoring physical and digital exchanges, practicing targeted assassination to strip them of their land, they destroy in the process one of the most biodiverse jungles on the planet. It is on this ground that Marc Lathuillière subjected his practice to a double questioning: how to make visible a minority struggling for its environment, where preserving the lives of its actors requires not showing their face? How can this constraint change research on the portrait as a representation of the person through his biological and cultural links?
In a closely participatory approach with the villagers, in demand for visibility of their struggle, five series were designed, one video, the others photographic. It is from one of these, Cuerpos y Plantas, that the six “environmental portraits” exhibited at the Sorbonne are taken. For this, the artist asked the peasants to be represented by a plant and a part of their body, both photographic and political delegation. The photographs are accompanied, for each portrait, by a text written by hand on a canvas, in which the latter freely expresses his fears and his commitments. Forming polyptychs - a text plus one to three images - these portraits therefore associate members or organs - hand, mouth, ear… -, with trees, fruits, flowers, even with an element, water. They thus draw an identity reshaped by globalization: fragmented, pierced by networks as well as linked to the non-human.
Marc Lathuillière thus tries to adapt to a complex environment, interlocking the local and the global, a photographic approach which, since the National Museum and Fluorescent People series, has always been imbued with the changes in our societies. In Urabá, it is a rainfed area with an exceptional biology - caught between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans - which cleared in the indifference of the State by the forces of the global market, barons of bananas, livestock, palm trees. with oil and coca. Facing them, some fifty communities descended from Maroon slaves and indigenous people, forcibly displaced at the height of the conflict against the guerrillas, are trying to regain possession of their ancestral lands to live on non-destructive agriculture. Their strategy is local: they have proclaimed themselves “humanitarian zones” and “biodiversity zones”, prohibited to any weapon bearer. But, constantly threatened, they only survive thanks to the vigilance of organizations defending rights whose networks are globalized. At Marc Lathuillière, the choice of the university to offer a first look at this committed work, in defense of the environment and freedom of expression, is part of this approach: it is both artistic and political.
Speakers during the conference: Julien Petit, curator at MAMU (Museo de Arte Miguel Urrutia), Bogotà
Yali Sequeira, coordinator,
and Léa Courrèges, Colombia referent, Peace Brigades International (France)
Audio recording of the conference: