The project Postales del Futuro (Postcards from the Future) arose in response to plans to create a maritime port in the Gulf of Tribugá north of the town of Nuquí. This was planned as a tourist port to support and promote national and international tourism to the area and as a cargo port that would move 250,000 tons of goods per year and facilitate the development of industrial fishing in the region.
The building of this port had been promoted for some time by Colombian business organisation Sociedad Portuaria Arquímedes S.A. as a means of bringing prosperity to the area. However, concerns had been raised about the damage that the port would cause to the local environment and how far it would benefit local communities, rather than merely facilitating the extraction of natural resources that would serve the benefit of wealthy countries in the global north.
Más Arte Más Acción saw the construction of the port as a focal point bringing together a number of intersecting issues, including inequality, the (mis)distribution of land, the disempowerment of Chocó’s large indigenous and black community, and ‘extractivist’ economic paradigms. Engaging with it was thus an opportunity to develop discussion around these broader themes as they played out across Colombia as well as to influence the local situation.
As a means of stimulating and influencing public debate on the issue, Postales del Futuro brought together the communication collective En PUJA from Nuquí and the audiovisual collective Puerto Creativo from Buenaventura, a nearby coastal city that already has a substantial port, for a three-year dialogue that involved creating six short artistic documentary films that drew connections between the distinct situations in Nuquí and Buenaventura.
The project commenced in 2017 with an initial meeting between En PUJA and Puerto Creativo where they shared their respective visions for the territory, including development, good living, autonomous management of the territory, conservation of biodiversity and the maintenance of cultural traditions. This was followed by training in documentary filmmaking, provided by Colombian filmmakers for the Puerto Creativo and En Puja collectives, culminating in the creation of two 10-minute documentaries Tribugá and Juntos Somos Más (Together We Are More).
This initial phase was then developed into a documentary creation residency organised in 2018 by Más Arte Más Acción, Ambulante Más Allá, an organisation that supports and promotes documentary film as a tool for social and cultural change and Tierra Digna, a team of women lawyers devoted to protecting the land, life and culture of communities affected by extractive economic development measures. The two collectives were brought into dialogue with local leaders through a series of discussions, resulting in a further two short documentaries that portray the current position of these communities, Ánimas (Souls) and Alabadas (Praises). In 2019, a third phase of the project led to the creation of two more short documentaries: El Barrio (The Neighbourhood) and Silencio (Silence).
All of these short documentaries were screened in the community of Nuquí and the surrounding villages, with particular care taken to hold screenings outside of artistic spaces, such as at meetings of fishermen. The screenings were used to provoke discussion and debate over policy for the future of the area and were important for involving a wide variety of local perspectives. The films were also shown in the Art Museum of the National University of Colombia in Bogotá, the Film Festival for Human Rights in Cartagena and Bogotá, the meeting and exhibition Carretera al mar (Road to the sea) at the Tertulia Museum in Cali, Espacio Odeón in Bogotá, and the Bogotá International Documentary Film Festival. In this way, MAMA sought to connect the institutional art world in Colombia’s major cities like Bogotá, Cali or Medellin with community collectives and creators in a non-hierarchical way.
MAMA is concluding Postales del Futuro with a celebratory event called ‘Local Lumbung’ in August/September 2021. This event is taking place along the Rio Atrato in Chocó and involves around 50 participants made up of people and organisations in MAMA’s networks. It will generate further critical thinking about the issues explored through the films and consider how these can be translated to other contexts, locally and beyond. Going forward, the films will link to events being organised for Documenta 15 Festival in Kassel, Germany, in 2022, involving the collectives and enabling them to present their work to international audiences and build understanding of how the local concerns in Nuquí are connected to international issues.