Erika Diettes (Colombia, 1978) is a visual artist with a degree in social communication from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá. This dual focus on visual art and communication is reflected in her art and in her publications which establish an intimate dialogue between the work and its audience. She also holds a M.A. in Anthropology from Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, with a thesis published by UniAndes in which she examines a concrete family situation and the mediation of television images on the process of mourning the loss of loved ones. Diettes incorporates in her work the intellectual framework provided by her academic training, resulting in a synthesis of image, message and process, a trifecta that stands as a conceptual and formal base that undergirds the body of work she has produced.
Her 2005 work Silencios/Silences explores the condensation of images of loved ones who were victims of Nazi atrocities in the 1930s and 40s in the testimonies of Jewish survivors from Shoa who arrived in Colombia as refugees. From that first work, Diettes turned her gaze to the sociopolitical situation in her country and began a process of engaging with victims of the Colombian armed conflict, which determined the subsequent path of her work, at the same time that it offered a vehicle for survivors to be heard. It is from this uninterrupted dialogue that she produced a series of works: Río Abajo (2008), A punta de sangre (2009), Sudarios (2011) and Relicarios (2011-2016). Each series is not an isolated production but rather, one after the other, they weave together as a whole in Diettes’ process of exploration. During this time she also produced two textual publications Silencios (2005) and Memento Mori (2016), through which she explores a new language which nonetheless emerges from her visual work.
Erika Diettes has exhibited in such venues as the Fine Arts Museum in Houston, Centro Cultural Recoleta (Buenos Aires), ExTeresa Arte Actual (Mexico City), and in various institutions in the United States, Spain, Australia, Poland, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Chile.
In Colombia, she has presented exhibitions in the principal museums of the country such as Museo de Antioquia, Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Museo Nacional de Colombia and Museo de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
In addition to these more traditional venues, Diettes has made use of churches to exhibit works such as Río Abajo and Sudarios. This is not by chance, since in the case of Sudarios, for example, the spectator is confronted with a work which from its beginnings was destined to be presented in these kinds of sacred spaces. In fact, one art critic, Charles Guice, expressly emphasizes the importance of the symbolic spaces in which the exhibition is inserted: “Presenting the work in churches, Diettes elevates their burden to a spiritual one, their suffering acknowledged and dignified in that most sacred of spaces. The larger-than-life-size scale overwhelms us, as if to suggest the enormity of the violence that lay hidden behind their eyes, and like martyrs seeking redemption, their presence invites us to share in their burden. We are spared their individual horrors but, taking form in our imagination, their torment is enough to envisage our own.”
Currently, Erika Diettes’ art is internationally acclaimed thanks not only to the various countries where she has exhibited, but also to the accolades she has received. In 2015, she was a finalist for the Visionary Awards to which she was nominated by Alasdair Foster, Director of the Australian Centre for Photography who learned of Sudarios when it was exhibited in Sydney. More recently, Diettes was awarded a creative fellowship by Tim Hetherington and the World Press Photo Foundation Fellowship (2017-2018).