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Keeping Memories Alive: Sudarios by Erika Diettes


Erika Diettes, the Colombian artist behind Sudarios shares her experience being here in Liverpool as part of RISE. Her piece, which featured 20 large-scale, black and white shrouds, emblazoned with photographs of women who have been forced to witness the murder of, or violence towards, their loved ones – parents, spouses, siblings and children. Diettes’ work shines a spotlight on the survivors, and acknowledges not only their suffering, but their continued faith in humanity.

Each show is, for me, an opportunity to extend the task of memory, and I say “task of memory” because it is a fugitive of time, who tends to escape in silence, elusive and fragile in the face of threats of violence, it is an obligation to capture it and deal with the clouds that try to obscure it. The sole task of keeping memory alive is a challenge, so expanding its fire beyond geographic, political, social and cultural boundaries is an invaluable experience, and a test that only awake ears can hear.

I had the honour, of being invited to RISE, A Season of Female Artist, Thinkers and Leaders in Liverpool as part of a programme that was launched on International Women’s Day, a full-year agenda dedicated to celebrating and commemorating the work of extraordinary women from different disciplines, from different parts of the world, and their impact on society. And not without joy and great satisfaction I had the privilege of having the 20 Colombian women who accompanied me in spirit, give opening to the season of RISE, on March 8th, from the top of one of the most majestic cathedrals in Europe, where they rose together with silent cries and sacred music, to reclaim their place in the memory not only of Colombians, but of the human beings of the world.


These 20 women I refer to are women whose faces I photographed in 2011 and printed on large silks, and whose ensemble I named Sudarios, (Shrouds), they had the courage to speak, not only through words, but through gestures of their pain. They: mothers, wives, sisters, grandmothers, daughters know that being alive and remembering is their condemnation. However, they are also clear that their presence, their faces, their words, their whole life are the testimony, not of their existence, but of the death of their loved ones. Only those who love are capable of mourning. Only those who love decide to continue living because otherwise their death would imply oblivion of those the violence took.

That is why I am deeply moved by the words of the Dean of Liverpool The Very Reverend Dr Sue Jones, who, before the Sudarios returned to Colombia, dedicated a special service and pronounced on Sunday, March 25th, a prayer that profoundly affected my being. Beyond the religious character, her voice brings together the silent and intimate prayers of so many people, making them audible to us.  By the resonance of her call for the women of the world, by the beauty of the voices of the Cathedral Girls’ Choir, by the majesty of the sound of the pipe organ and the entire magnificent, symbolic gesture these words will for ever be written in my heart.

And so we pray for all who are hanging by a thread in war torn areas of our world. We pray for men and women who have been affected by violence and the death of loved ones. We pray particularly for the peoples of Colombia.

We pray for artists and their inspiration to reflect life in different formats. We give you thanks for Erika for her skill and talent and we prayer for all who bear the responsibility to re-imagine situations and who help us re-think our roles and responsibilities to those who are hurting in our world.

We thank you, God, for the skills of artists and musicians, and for every means by which our life and worship are enriched. Help us to be good stewards of your gifts by using them always in service to you and to one another, for the honour and glory of your name. Amen.

Finally, I want to say that behind every exhibition, and especially on this occasion, there are a number of people working with dedication and professionalism, giving not only the best of their knowledge, but foremost something almost inexpressible: a disposition of deep respect not only to the pieces of art but the lives and deaths they represent.  The production and installation of this show flowed from love, calmness and the final results are consistent with all the effort that we made together as a team for months. That is why I want to thank:


Liverpool City Council – Culture Liverpool RISE Team


Bev Ayre – RISE Creative Producer/Curator

Alicia Smith – RISE Creative Producer/Curator

Sarah Vasey – Sudarios Project Manager

Sam McEvoy – Project Assistant

Roisin Asije-Rooney – Marketing

Diarmid Mackinnon – Marketing/Social Media

Alissa Koopal – RISE Launch


Installation Team


Ken Johnson – UK Rigging

Mike Barrett – UK Rigging

Tom Meaney – UK Rigging

Ben Porter – UK Rigging

Nick Hill – UK Rigging

Stu Stalker – Event Design Ltd, Site & Production


Cathedral Team


Lucy Rafferty – Cathedral Event & Logistics Manager

Gemma Mirdamadi – Events Coordinator

Riannah Brown – Events Assistant

Dean of Liverpool, Very Reverend Dr Sue Jones


Mothers Day Project


Esther Wilson

Sarah Black

Laura Campbell

Andy Frizzell


The Colombian Team


Maria Adelaida Bohórquez – Conservator

Joseph Kaplan – Life guard and soul keeper

Natalie Lopez Valencia – audovisual materials

Ricardo Hernandez – assistant Bogota Studio


Other Liverpool amazing people I met


Catalina Montoya Londoño Desmond Tutu Centre for War and Peace Studies

Louise Muddle

Julia Coutinho Huf

Stephanie and Dave Powers

Francisco Carrasco


GRACIAS for honouring the memory of the victims of my country, Colombia.  GRACIAS for RISING and celebrating the lives of the women represented in SUDARIOS.  GRACIAS for welcoming us to your city and GRACIAS for all these new friendships I hope are just beginning.


Love to all of you from Bogotá, Colombia.
Erika Diettes