Presented by: Ceci Arango
In 2006 I created the work ENTRELAZADAS, Colombian flag of peace, at the invitation of the then Goodman Duarte Gallery, today LA Galería, to a very banal exhibition on color. As my work is based on my love for Colombia, it was very easy to decide with those experiences, to make a work with the Colombian flag, because color is the language of a flag.
I created a woven flag, like my basket weaving work and thinking about the need to weave our differences in order to reach consensus. I wanted to make a work that would not matter if it looked naive. Instead of a war spear, which is used in the antlers by tradition, I wanted to use a raw wooden dove thinking about what a peasant would do to express his desire for peace. The same is the base, very simple, made with small planks of raw wood from scraps.
In the year 2007, with flags to scale in a height of approximately 60 cm, I tried to build a bridge of peace between journalists and political protagonists who hated each other.
In 2008, I took it to the No More Farc marches, organized by the Colombia Soy Yo Foundation. In the following years I gave it as a gift to presidents I saw fighting on television and to people I saw doing civic or praiseworthy acts for Colombia. I gave it to the then Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos when Ingrid Betancourt was freed without bullets, with an intelligence strategy. His wife, María Clemencia de Santos liked it very much and wanted another one, but I could not give any more. The civic and social works I do are with my own resources and part of that work is to give work to needy people in the weaving of flags.
When Juan Manuel Santos was running for the second electoral round in 2010, I sent him the big flag because he was calling for a government of national unity among several political parties, and that was what the flag expressed. The later First Lady liked that gift very much, as well as the then elected President Juan Manuel Santos.
In 2013, the peace talks were complicated, just begun in Cuba, and I had thirty-one flags that I had sent to weave to help people in need. One of the weavers was a person who worked in a coca laboratory and wanted to disassociate herself from that world.
I told her to come to Bogotá, that I would hire her to weave flags while she learned something and got a job, even if I had neither clients for those flags, nor anything specific to do with them. I decided to do an art action again, but even more radical. I wanted to send them to Cuba, to the table of conversations. I contacted the First Lady María Clemencia Rodríguez de Santos and she approved the idea, because the negotiations were very difficult and they were going to make an attempt in a second round of dialogues. We sent them with a letter from me, in which I invited them to weave the ideas to reach consensus and to leave the war and an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, whom I mentioned as a bridge of peace in the colony of Mexico. I did not know anything else until several months later, when I received an e-mail from the FARC. Of course it scared me to death, but when I dared to open it, it came from the peace commission of the FARC and it was a beautiful letter of thanks in which they echoed my invitation to weave the ideas.
Then Lucía Jaramillo brought me from Cuba a letter signed in handwriting by several members of the FARC peace commission, who sent it to me with even more affection than the mail, on a special piece of paper. Some of the signatures were repainted and I really value this letter and these signatures very much. Lucía Jaramillo told me that the delivery was very difficult, but very emotional. In the midst of the tension that was felt in the atmosphere, she gave them to each of the members, without distinction of whether they were representatives of the government, guarantor country or representatives of the FARC.
In 2014 the First Lady, at the end of the election of Juan Manuel Santos for the second term called me to see if we could make 2000 smaller banners for the inauguration. With a team of eighty people and we succeeded despite many difficulties. Those flags were delivered to leaders of several countries and in 2014 President Juan Manuel Santos delivered them to Pope Francis, so that through that small work, the ENTRELAZADAS flag, he would bless peace in Colombia. At that time, the situation at the negotiation table in Havana was still very complicated. In 2018, the flag was on the table of the signing of the agreements at the Teatro Colón, on which the agreements were signed by the then President Juan Manuel Santos and the director of the FARC political party Rodrigo Jaramillo. A crucial moment in the history of Colombia and very controversial, precisely because of partisanship and opposition thinking.
At present, some people are interested in the flag and acquire it and I also continue to make some symbolic donations with the help of acquisitions and family support to characters such as soldiers, peace managers and people who have generated peace with their testimony of life.