"Drifting Away"

Someone once said, "All art is political." That's apparent in photographer Erika Diettes's "Drifting Away." Her moving exhibit of life-size images, which are printed onto clear glass and then stood upright for display, takes the harsh, ugly truth of her Colombian homeland's disappeared and manages to find some beauty in remembering them. For decades, Colombian civilians, men, women and children have been kidnapped, tortured and killed by the various paramilitary and guerrilla forces fighting for control of the country. The mutilated bodies of the disappeared are sometimes found along the country's river-banks or roadsides, but as often as not, they are never found. That leaves the grieving families, unsure of their loved ones' fate, with no bodies to bury.

For "Drifting Away," Diettes asked family members to loan her items that belonged to the missing persons. The families were understandably reluctant, but Diettes managed to convince several. She took the items (a dress, a pair of glasses, a work shirt), submerged them in clear water and photographed them. We see a pink sundress, a cream-colored shirt, a brown purse. There's a blue party dress and a bright-red sweatshirt. All of them float ghost-like against the black-and-white background of the water. Their owners are clearly missing from the composition and, in this case, from their homeland as well. 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Through October 11. De Santos Gallery, 1724-A Richmond. For information, call 713-520-1200 or visit www.desantosgallery.com. Free.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Starts: Sept. 13. Continues through Oct. 11, 2008

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