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    Lacy, Suzanne
    Hacer arte público como memoria colectiva, como metáfora y como acción / Suzanne Lacy
    Arte, memoria y violencia : reflexiones sobre la ciudad -- Medellín, Colombia : Corporación Región, 2003
    p. 63- 80
    Journal article – Essays
    Lacy, Suzanne. “Hacer arte público como memoria colectiva, como metáfora y como acción.” In Arte, memoria y violencia: reflexiones sobre la ciudad, 63–80. Medellín, Colombia: Corporación Región, 2003.

In the text “Hacer arte público como memoria colectiva, como metáfora y como acción,” North American artist Suzanne Lacy develops her thesis on the community impact of an artistic strategy. In so doing, she analyzes the definition of “public art,” the role of the artist in a community, artistic strategies for collective creation, and the political processes that those strategies entail. Lacy views public art as a process of organization and of symbolic intervention in a community’s social relations that allows that community to build mechanisms to facilitate coming together. According to Lacy, the role of the artist as author of the work “shifts” as soon as a collaborative or community action takes shape. Lacy relates these ideas to the Piel de la Memoria project (Corporación Región, 1998–1999) carried out in Comuna 13 of Medellín. That project encouraged spaces of dialogue in contexts plagued by violence, the violation of civil rights, and the breakdown in social solidarity.


In 1998 and 1999, North American artist and community organizar Suzanne Lacy (b. 1945), Colombian anthropologist Pilar Riaño, and the Corporación Región developed the project Piel de la Memoria in Comuna 13 of Medellín [see “Encuentros artísticos con el dolor, las memorias y las violencias,” doc. no. 1091786]. The aim of the initiative was to reconstruct life stories and gather meaningful objects that spoke of the violent situations experienced by the community. The work itself consisted of presenting those stories and objects at a mobile museum that would move around the neighborhood, a museum that was open to the public and created by the community itself. Lacy and Riaño’s project then proposed a mechanism—one highly usual in its context—by which artistic processes and social practices were linked. Piel de la Memoria is an extremely important event in the history of symbolic actions in response to the crisis in collective memory and in civil rights in Colombia, which to a large extent are due to how it constructs poetics on the armed conflict and the history of social participation in Colombian art.


In “Hacer arte público: como memoria colectiva, como metáfora y como acción,” Lacy formulates the notions and artistic strategies that had been deployed in Piel de la Memoria. Lacy’s text is in dialogue with Pilar Riaño’s “Encuentros artísticos con el dolor, las memorias y las violencias.” The notions formulated here are also presented in Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art, which discusses the relationship between art and community processes in Europe and the United States, and how logics of social intervention operate in art today. It is possible to discuss artistic practices in connection to social processes in Colombia owing to the contributions of Rolf Abderhalden [see “Pequeño Laboratorio del Imaginario Social,” doc. no. 1094236]; Raúl Cristancho [see “Ciudad Kennedy: Memoria y realidad,” doc. no. 1098571]; and Esteban Rey [see “Tácticas de Combate,” doc. no. 1134273], among others.

Taller Historia Crítica del Arte (UN): David Gutiérrez
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Reproduced with permission of Corporación Región, Valle de Cauca, Colombia.