Since I do not think an intrinsic property of evil can be defined, I am, rather, concerned with tracing what evil does to us. If designating something as evil is a way of marking the fact that it shatters our trust in the world, it’s that effect, more than the cause, which I want to examine. Susan Neiman (author and philosopher).
Guzmán is interested in the idea of evil and the ways in which we think and talk about it. Arriving in Liverpool in April 2008 for a 3-month residency, he was struck by the ways in which violent and traumatic events were marked and memorialised in public spaces. The badges worn for lost children, minutes of silence and improvised roadside tributes stood in stark contrast to what he describes as the “daily turnover of victims and atrocities” in the news of his own country.
His project ‘Guided by the echo’ centres on the visible and tangible traces left in the wake of such events. His work contrasts the myth-making of the tabloid media with the physical traces to be found at the ‘scene of the crime’. Dealing solely with these traces, Guzmán makes no attempt to find the truth behind them. His work poses a series of tentative questions - he seeks neither to moralise nor to explain.
Guzmán’s project began with the stories he found in local tabloid newspapers; the emotional, sensational language of which, made the subjects seem distant, unreal, almost fictional. Following these stories, Guzmán visited the sites themselves, sometimes finding physical proof - a gunshot on a pub sign or remnants of a memorial constructed from ribbons - sometimes finding nothing.
The project brings together a diverse range of material, such as newspapers, maps, photographs and notes. They allow the viewer to see through the artist’s eyes, as a Colombian in Liverpool, an outsider navigating a new city by the sites and stories that absolve reason and understanding; where the word ‘evil’ is the simplest answer.
The photographs in Guzmán’s work are silent, static. Their reticence, however, does not permit the viewer to escape into the familiarity of the everyday, nor into the fantasy of film noir. How can we deal with a reality that is continually echoed and pre-empted by the images of news and entertainment? Is the result that we are simply anesthetised?
’Guided by the echo’ is a process and not an end point, a journey and a work in progress, which focuses at its very core, on the artist’s understanding of the world as it is experienced.