A statue in Segovia
The statue towers over the main square of Segovia, Antioquia, one of the principal mining centers of Colombia. Segovia is the site of countless acts of violence in the past and a current, festering conflict between the traditional miners of the region and the Canadian multinational, Gran Colombia Gold Corp.
The plaque at the base of the monument does not mention the name of the sculptor. Painted a gold color, the statue shows a naked woman, her ankles and wrists in shackles, raising the traditional wooden pan used by alluvial miners up to the sky. Her face is contorted in an anguished grimace, as a muscular miner hammers at her womb. He has split her open, revealing a lode of golden rocks jaggedly showing through the tear in her skin.
Ive asked a few Segovians what meaning they see in this sculpture. Some say it is a memorial for the 1988 massacre of 43 civilians by paramiltiaries, that left Segovia in a state of trauma. Others deny any negative connotations, choosing to regard it as a sincere homage to the dignity of the miner. Heliodoro Alvarez, co-owner of the Sociedad Minera Roca mine, responded in philosophical terms:
“We dig in the organs, in the internal parts of Mother Earth. She lets us tunnel within her womb, to give us sustenance. No matter how much we crush her, she does not say anything, she keeps on offering us what we need to eat. She represents a mother, as with a mother and child, at times the child makes her suffer greatly, yet she does not stop being the mother and the child does not stop being the child, and each day she loves him more.”
I made these images while working on the issue of conflict gold, with a grant from the Magnum Foundation.
-written by Stephen Ferry