Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Textile Details

'Retorno/Return', by Mujeres tejiendo sueños y sabores de paz, Mampuján . (Photo: Martin Melaugh)
'Retorno/Return', by Mujeres tejiendo sueños y sabores de paz, Mampuján . (Photo: Martin Melaugh)


Title of Textile:Retorno/Return
Maker: Mujeres tejiendo sueños y sabores de paz, Mampuján
Country of Origin: Colombia
Year Produced: 2013
Size (cm): 42cm X 54cm
Materials: Scraps of material hand sewn onto burlap
Type of Textile: Arpillera

This piece by Mampuján women, is rooted in their experience of forced displacement. Following a brutal massacre in which 12 people were killed on 11 March 2000 by the now demobilised United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), a coalition of right-wing counter-insurgency paramilitary groups, more than 1,400 civilians, including these 15 arpilleristas were displaced.

Sadly, Colombia has one of the world’s largest population of Internally Displaced People (IDPs), as more than 7.4 million people have been driven from their homes over the last thirty years due to violence associated with Colombia’s internal conflict. However, in 2011, the Victim and Land Restitution law (Victims law), of the Santos government established a judicial process to return stolen and abandoned land to IDPs. On 27 June 2013, those displaced by the Mampuján massacre had their land rights officially restored, permitting them to return to their original land. Human Rights Watch (2013)

In this arpillera, we are given an image of how these women envision their return. Homes are rebuilt, children are playing, adults are engaged in the daily tasks of village life in this seemingly fertile area against the backdrop of rolling hills and a bright yellow sun. Through these scenes we get a sense of their palpable yearning to resettle in their home village, which is presented as idyllic. Juana Alicia Ruiz, one of the arpilleristas who worked on this piece recalls the sudden forced displacement: “people were not prepared for what came upon them, they left with their belongings on their heads, kept in big pots and bags using the only means of transport they had, the donkey.” Juana is sceptical that the idyllic return envisioned here may not match the reality: “I do not see the return like this, but it is what some have in their imagination and it is what they left behind.”

The reality in 2018 matched these polarised perspectives. With 40% of the 112,000 claims to the Land Restitution Unit finalised, the government declared the process a success. Claimants and NGOs disagreed, citing how threats from the Anti-Land Restitution Army prevented many people proceeding with their claims. With Law 1448 due to expire in 2021 (now extended to 2031), and the pledge of then President Iván Duque Márquez to change the peace accord, the slow pace of land restitution worried claimants, who feared a return to forced displacement and paramilitary atrocities.

(“The slow and bloody road to justice”, New Internationalist 515 September-October 2018)

Owner: Conflict Textiles collection
Location: Conflict Textiles store
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Martin Melaugh
Provenance: Donation from Mujeres tejiendo sueños y sabores de paz, Mampuján to Roberta Bacic (2013).

Textile exhibited at: SMALL Actions BIG Movements, 1/07/2014 - 11/07/2014
Sew to Speak – Human Rights, 12/09/2014 - 14/09/2014
Textile Accounts of Conflicts, 17/11/2014 - 18/11/2014
Textile Accounts of Conflicts, 6/02/2015 - 7/03/2015
Arpilleras: Verhalen over leven / Arpilleras: stories of life and survival, 23/09/2015 - 20/11/2015
ARPILLERAS: verhalen over leven / ARPILLERAS: stories of life and survival, 16/01/2016 - 24/02/2016
Enduring Life: Arpillera Voices, 11/05/2016 - 15/07/2016
Arpilerak: Memoriaren Haritik Etorkizuna Josten / Arpilleras: Al Hilo De La Memoria, 12/04/2018 - 24/04/2018
ARIPILLERAS: AL HILO DE LA MEMORIA, TEJIENDO FUTURO / Arpilleras: Knitting the Future, 25/04/2018 - 30/05/2018
Threads, War and Conflict, 3/04/2019 - 29/04/2019
Embracing Human Rights, 5/11/2019 - 18/12/2019
Embracing Human Rights: Conflict Textiles’ Journey, 9/01/2020 - 31/07/2020
"A Museum For Me", part of the Culture Unconfined Festival, 11/05/2020 - 31/07/2020
Suitcases: Telling Textile Travels /Maletas: Contando Viajes Textiles, 1/10/2021 - 7/11/2021
Con-textualising Memory / Con-textualizando la memoria, 10/12/2021 - 10/12/2021
Stitching our Stories: Displacement, Healing, New Possibilities, 23/11/2023 - 23/11/2023

Textile Detail Image(s)