The Unaccounted: A Triptych is part of a project titled Anatomy of Violence in Colombia, comprising four stage pieces that also give rise to a large series of “variations”, of which this installation is one. Anatomy of Violence is a project about the relationships between festivity and violence in Colombia; in the country’s recent history, the perpetrators of this violence (among them guerrillas, drug traffickers, paramilitaries) use festivities and the vulnerability of bodies as a device of celebration, both of life and death.
The Unaccounted: A Triptych (Variation) is at once a footprint and an archive, made up of real and fictional documents, images and processed sounds and based on materials, objects and peoples found in the process of research and assembly. The triptych as a resource enables Mapa Teatro to translate the unfolding of the work into four spaces — in pictorial art the triptych appears as a formal device in three parts and is articulated on hinges, with a fourth painting created when they are closed. Thus, Anatomy of Violence ultimately becomes four architectural spaces:
1) The first space is devoted to the spectator.
2) Behind a display case are the scattered remains of a party in the intimacy of a home, where an automated music band emerges from a cloud of smoke, in reference to the “bands of war”, comprising children and highly popular in Colombian schools. Absent children that would listen to an educational radio piece on the history of the revolution. These ideas were later developed in the final stage piece La despedida (The Farewell, 2017).
3) The third space, Los Santos Inocentes (Holy Innocents, 2010), is traversed by the festivities which cele-brate a unique carnival in Guapi, a largely African-American community in which men dress as women with rubber masks and strike their neighbours with a whip to remember times of slavery.
4) A jungle forms the fourth space, in reference to a clandestine celebration, Discurso de un hombre decente (Speech by a Decent Man, 2012), where the most infamous drug lord, Pablo E. Escobar, rehearses a delusional speech on the legalisation of drugs, understood as an asset of consumption inserted within the circulation of capitalism and which ignores the sacred cultivation of coca by indigenous peoples, the victims of this illegal trade.
The installation is the footprint of a series of gestures that have already taken place, the gestures of a stage piece activated again through visitors’ bodies, in turn “witnesses” and “actors”. The primal image used to conceive The Unaccounted: A Triptych, the photograph by Jeff Wall entitled A Ventriloquist at a Birthday Party October 1947 (1990), is transformed into a tablaeu vivant, while on the other stage elements evolve into an installation, creating a palimpsest laden with temporary, plastic and spatial layers on the relationships between festivity and violence, and the effects on subjectivity and bodies, approached by the artists from a micropolitical and poetic perspective that is packed with theatricality and distanced from documentalism.