July 19, 2016 / 5:11 PM / a year ago

Art looks to aid healing process from Colombia's civil war

3 Min Read

(Reuters) - Wilson Barreto was blinded by a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) bomb attack in Bogota when he was 19 years old.

Now, he is featured in a documentary naked, standing in Bogota's Bolivar Plaza with more than 6,000 other Colombians from all sides of the civil war, which began in the early 1960s.

The short film, "Keep Walking Colombia," released to coincide with the country's Independence Day, charts the stories of five Colombians as they take part in American photographer Spencer Tunick's most recent nude photo art project.

"After the attack, I don't remember a thing. I woke up five days later and my fellow officers had already been buried," Barreto said. "It was very hard, waking up in the day, opening my eyes and seeing nothing."

Also appearing in the documentary is María del Pilar Navarrete, who talked about the abduction and disappearance of her husband, Hector Jaime Beltrán, following a 1985 assault on Bogota's Palace of Justice by M-19 rebels, in which over 100 people died, including almost half of the country's Supreme Court justices.

"On 6th November, it will be 30 years and six months since I last saw my husband," Navarrete said, underscoring that her role in Tunick's project made her feel as though she was "paying homage" to her husband.

"I'm going to bare my soul and my body to tell everyone who he was," she added.

More than two weeks ago, FARC leaders and the government announced a ceasefire deal in Cuba after talks that lasted almost four years.

President Juan Manuel Santos has said the peace talks, aimed at ending a conflict which has killed more than 220,000 and displaced millions, may conclude as early as this month. Any deal would be put to Colombians for approval in a public vote.

Beyond the official processes towards peace, Navarrete says a lasting outcome will depend on the people.

"True peace is born from being able to understand each other, take each other by the hand, hug each other and say, 'We will move forward'," said Navarrete.

Tunick's photographs will be exhibited in Bogota's Museum of Modern Art later this year, while each of the participants will receive a limited edition print.

The film, which is being presented by Scotch whisky brand Johnnie Walker and the Bogota Museum of Modern Art, can be seen at: (youtu.be/eFtaVzy70aQ)

Reporting by Antonia Eklund; Writing by Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Alan Crosby

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