Artist Carolina Caycedo worked with communities in southern Huila affected by the planned construction of the Chillurco and Oporapa dams along the Magdalena River. These hydroelectric projects are part of the ‘Master Plan for the Development of the Magdalena River’, designed by the Colombian government and a private energy company HydroChina. The Master Plan’s objective is to turn the river into a highway to generate power by building 17 dams. It is also designed to facilitate trade and to navigate large ships.
Caycedo instigated what she calls “geo-choreography” a community gathering and protest against the plans in the villages of Pitalito and Huila. She made a similar protest gathering in Bogotá with students and others with an interest in the environment.
Caycedo’s geo-choreographies are actions that invite participants to take hold of the territory and to form a collective body – where the body of water and the social body are intertwined through action. This gives visibility to political ecologies and the deep cultural, economic and social connections within the territory. The geo-choreographies pose a vivid impression on the disputed land, through the re-appropriation of public space.
Cuerpos de Agua consisted of a series of messages and images formed by the bodies of the affected. On 13th September 2015, at the Puerta del Sol Spa on the Pitalito-Oporapa road people spent the day using their bodies to create phrases such as LIVING RIVERS, YUMA RESISTS and the silhouette of a fisherman. These actions were photographed from the air, creating an image later used by grassroots movements.
On 19th September 2015 in Bogotá’s main square, people were invited to form the word YUMA (native name for the Magdalena River), as a gesture of solidarity with the river itself and the ecosystems affected by the Master Plan.