Video artist Fernando Arias on his project Humanos Derechos

September 2008 -

The main figures in an armed conflict literally strip to the skin in a video project by the Columbian artist.

"My brother and I made the film Shot on Location in 2001, in the province of Choco in north-western Colombia. While we were filming, we were questioned by paramilitary personnel. They suspected the neighbouring communities of collaborating with the guerrillas. Then we were told to vacate the area immediately and to pass on a death threat to the mayor of Nuqui, the closest larger community.


In 2007, after I had been living in the Choco region for a year, I started filming for the Humanos Derechos (Rights People) project. I wanted to bring the lead players in the conflict together virtually by filming them while undressing in front of the camera.The first person was a soldier in the Colombian army. He agreed after repeatedly consulting with his senior officers. I imagined his feeling of emptiness and the distance from his family and friends in this remote but beautiful environment. Next I filmed a farmer from the same area and started looking for more contact with paramilitary and guerrilla fighters. It often took a long time to win their trust while remaining objective.

In a certain sense, Humanos Derechos cuts through the complexity of the conflict by reducing it to a simple action: undressing in front of a camera. This makes all the participants equal. I project the portraits I filmed in life-sized images on opposite walls with the viewers in the middle. The most revealing moment is when the four projections are started for the first time: seeing these people confronted with one another while they are all undressing at the same time. The viewers are then like the fifth component in this war. The accompanying sentence – there’s no such thing as an innocent bystander – reveals itself."

The sequel to the Humanos Derechos project will be made in 2009 in Israel and the Palestinian Territories; Fernando Arias is currently making the necessary preparations. People with suggestions and/or contacts in that region can contact Arias at:

Humanos Derechos is supported by the Prince Claus Fund