The Sigh of Sorrow: Vikki’s Article on Erika Diettes

Vikki’s article on the artwork of Erika Diettes has been published by the wonderful journal Wasafiri in an issue on Culture of Human Rights (2020, Vol 35, issue 4) and is available here:

Cover of the journal

It is called ‘The Sigh of Sorrow and the Force of Art: On the artwork of Erika Diettes’.

This article considers the work of Colombian artist Erika Diettes (b. 1978), specifically her projects Sudarios, Río Abajo and Relicarios, as a reflection on the possibilities and limitations of making artworks amidst conflict. Colombia’s internal armed conflict challenges any form of representation, being so complex and on such a scale that words often fall away.

What remains after the monstrosity of violence?

Diettes’ art concerns what remains after the monstrosity of violence, where we sigh in sorrow. It is not, however, the ambition of her artworks to repeat the stories she has heard from relatives and victims of violence, nor to attempt to ‘do justice’ to or for them. Rather, she seeks to use the force of art – a force that art inevitably holds and that artists must employ carefully – to insert something into the world that is attentive to those lives and experiences that may otherwise fade from our accounts, slip from our memories.


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