María Buenaventura


Biblioteca sin tierra






55 x 78.5 cm. each


Photo print on cotton paper

Credits: Collection and copyright Banco de la República, Bogotá

In this series of photographs, the Colombian artist María Buenaventura responds to a gesture made by Colombia’s president, Iván Duque, in 2018 during his visit to the Espacio Territorial de Capacitación y Reincorporación (ETCR) located in La Guajira in the north of the country. The centre had been inhabited mainly by ex-fighters in the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), and after the signing of the peace agreements it was converted into a learning centre focused mainly on woodwork. The peace agreements promised agricultural reform and the restitution of more than 3 million hectares of land to farmers. When the President visited the ETCR he commissioned a ‘little bookshelf’ from commander Bertulfo, without answering questions about the points of the agreement which remained unfulfilled. Buenaventura’s photos show the small bookshelf commissioned by the President in the process of being built. The artist sets the bookshelf against the gardens of houses belonging to ex-fighters from the region, suggesting an analogy between the plants, their seeds and the books or the knowledge that is gathered in a library. The images show plantain and banana plantations, amongst other fruit and vegetabls like passion fruit, cassava, onion and coriander. This piece is part of a wider project by Buenaventura, entitled Biblioteca de plantas (‘Plant library’), which aims to used archival methodology to create a living repository of knowledge on the diversity of the crops which exist in different regions of the country, with the intention to resist monocultures like banana, and thus to safeguard knowledge of the land.