Los gestos muertos (Photo–Book)

Los Gestos Muertos (2017) is a project centred around the silences, the invisible and the dissonances that occur in the writing of history. A visual research project that performs a sort of dissection of the testimony by focusing on the hands of Colombian politicians while they deliver speeches during the recent peace process with Colombia’s Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). This is the very same process that now exists as a frustrated and futile attempt after it was rejected by the country’s population in a referendum. Los Gestos Muertos (The Dead Gestures) is inspired by the Colombian context, however its premise could easily be applied to many other geographies.

Making use of newspaper and magazine cuttings, web image searches and exploring different archives, a vast collection of images (more than 1,500) was gathered, mostly depicting politicians discussing the peace process. These images were classified and catalogued according to the intention denoted by the gesturality of the depicted person’s hand(s). Los Gestos Muertos is small and simple; its red cover stands in contrast to the collection of full-bleed black and white images inside. As the viewer quickly flips the pages back and forth, he/she dives into a torrent of hands: pointing, gesturing, holding, touching, clapping and shaking hands. Details such as suits, ties, watches and jewellery hint that these hands have a strong connection to power. We are looking at performative acts put together in a visual flow of a book format. This representation of the political moment also plays with the idea of how the negotiations were held – behind closed doors and shrouded in secrecy.

Therefore, the Colombian population lived this process in two separate registers: the first, on a visual level and, the second one through the written word. Herein lies the conceptual point of departure of the project, the emphasis on the fact that the writing of history –political or otherwise– happens based on the dissociation of politics itself as a performative act, hence the result is nothing but dead gestures.

This work exists in two different editions. The first, an edition of 50 copies signed and numbered to be sold in bookshops and art spaces; the second is an edition of five luxury volumes.

Los gestos muertos. Risograph with hand screen printed cover and box, 16.5 x 12.5 cm, edition of 50 signed and numbered, 2017. Video © Anouk Kruithof

Los gestos muertos. 16.5 x 12.5 cm, edition of 50 signed and numbered, 2017.

Los gestos muertos. 16.5 x 12.5 cm, edition of 50 signed and numbered, 2017.