In recent years, Peru went through a fierce internal conflict period, which brought nearly 70.000 deaths; perpetrated by the Military and two guerrilla groups: Sendero Luminoso and Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru. The narrative officialised by the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission established the beginning of the conflict in 1980 – Sendero Luminoso’s declaration of war – and the end of the year 2000 – with the fall of the former president Alberto Fujimori. While rounded numbers and historical periodization do help to grasp the scope of violence, the official narrativization has also the effect of marking the period as a time of exception – an exception that appears, apparently, resolved. Nevertheless, nineteen years after the official end of the conflict, 16.000 missing people and 6.000 un-exhumated mass graves are still waiting to be grieved.
Generally speaking, current exhumations and postmortem efforts to identify buried victims in mass graves strive to ‘restitute’ their personhood, to determine the legal death and to confer the family the possibility for grieving. In the Peruvian case where the corpses are reduced to bones, it is both the forensic archaeologist and the forensic anthropologist who ‘restore’ the victim’s identity. During the fieldwork, the forensic archaeologist exhumates and recovers the human remains, which are later taken to the forensic anthropologist for the laboratory analysis and the definitive identification. In between those two interventions, the remains hover in a suspended transitional legal status between “missing person” and the official declaration of its death.
Liminal takes place during that transitional state and responds to the subjects that are in a limbo of legal recognition, on the threshold of the subjecthood, the recognisable and the representable.
Maya Watanabe (Lima, Peru) is a visual artist and filmmaker who works with video installations. She has had recent exhibitions at, among other places: De Pont Museum (NL), MAXXI Museum (IT); MALI – Museo de Arte de Lima (PE); Rose Art Museum (US); La Casa Encendida (ES); Palais de Tokyo (FR); Kyoto Art Center (JP); Fridericianum (DE); and Matadero (ES). Her work has been shown at various art biennials and internationally, including Videobrasil, the 13th Havana Biennial (CU), Asian Art Biennial (TW), the 2nd Wuzhen Contemporary Art Exhibition (CN) and the Beijing Biennial (CN). She has also collaborated as audiovisual art director for stage productions in Peru, Spain, Austria and Italy. In 2018 she was granted the Han Nefkens Foundation Award. Watanabe is based in Amsterdam. She is currently doing her PhD research at Goldsmiths College (University of London), Departments of Visual Cultures, and teaching at DOGtime, Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam.
Liminal (2019), digital video, 60 minutes. Courtesy of the Artist.
Part of a film program featuring films about crime, genocide and accountability.
KIRIK’s 2022 programs are supported by SAHA as part of the Sustainability Fund 2021-2022.