a forest, a lens, a fibre


Artistic research residency around a gift that travelled to The Hague in remembrance of missing people in Colombia

a forest, a lens, a fibre – image by Ana Núñez Rodríguez

In many ways, we think of memories as immaterial. A fleeting thought or a feeling. Something internal and without form. Yet perhaps this does not tell the full story. Objects can be vessels for memory, containing moments and traces of someone who is no longer there. The word heritage comes to mind. Objects inherited from the past. We inherit more than just the object, we inherit the memory. In this way, objects can keep the memory alive. They give it form and they give it presence. And at the same time the memory adds a layer of meaning to the objects.

This is the case for many relatives of missing people who keep personal objects and artifacts as a way of preserving the memory of their loved ones. The objects resist absence, some do shouting and some with a whisper, yet they all speak their presence. Is there a way of exploring the materiality of memory? Can we visualize the memory that seeps its way into the grains, fibres and molecules of these objects? What role can art play to help speak their presence and to keep the memories of those missing alive?

A while ago, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), headquartered near to Creative Court in The Hague, the Netherlands, received a precious gift, consisting of very personal objects and artefacts, in remembrance of those who went missing in different communities in Colombia. Looking for ways to pay tribute to the families of the missing and representatives of civil society organizations, the ICMP has asked Creative Court to translate the objects into an art project.

We took on this both beautiful as well as responsible task, and invited artist Ana Núñez Rodríguez to join us our quest during a 10-day artistic research residency. Núñez Rodríguez is a post graduate of Photography at the National University in Bogotá, Colombia, and of the MA Photography & Society at the Royal Academy of Arts (KABK) in The Hague. The results of the artistic research process were presented to families of the missing and representatives of civil society organizations in Colombia, among other guests, during an online event hosted by the ICMP in collaboration with Creative Court.

supervision: Rabiaâ Benlahbib
concept development: Rabiaâ Benlahbib, Ana Núñez Rodríguez, Xaver Könneker
photography: Ana Núñez Rodríguez
photography & production assistance: Xaver Könneker
management assistance: Amber Cavarlez

at the initiative of:
the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP)

made possible by:
the International Commission on Missing Persons
the European Union

many thanks also to:
the 14 families of the missing and Civil Society Organisations’ representatives (CO)
Waag Technology & Society, Amsterdam (NL)
Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden (NL)
Staatsbosbeheer national green heritage keepers, The Hague Forest (NL)


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