Silencios: Photos by Juan Manuel Echavarría
An ongoing photos series of empty schools from more then sixty villages and towns in Montes de María, Colombia.
On March 11th, 2010 I was invited to old Mampujan in the Montes de María region of Colombia. The community was commemorating the 10th anniversary of their banishment by the paramilitary forces “Heroes de los Montes de María”. This is when I began the series of photographs I named Silencios.
In the Rural School of Mampuján, abandoned, without a roof and with floors covered by vegetation, I entered a classroom and found vowels painted on the wall by the blackboard. The writing and color of the letters attracted me; they seemed as if they were fleeing the blackboard. The a, e, i, and u were still legible despite the humidity and the passing of time, but the o was barely visible.
In the second and last classroom, hidden behind much overgrowth I saw a deteriorated, faded blackboard which I hesitated to photograph. Days later, while carefully studying the photographs, I discovered on that silent blackboard an almost invisible sentence written without a doubt a long time ago. It said: “what is beautiful is to be alive.”