Juan Diego Reyes

What Remains
Location: Asheville, NC
Nationality: Colombia
Biography: Colombia. 1990. Juan Diego migrated to the U.S. with his family at the age of nine. The challenges of assimilating into two cultures helped shape his view of the world and inspired his curiosity about different cultures, peoples, and places. It is... read on
Public Story
What Remains
Credits: juan diego reyes
Date of Work: 03/05/15 - Ongoing
Updated: 05/09/19
Location: Armero, Colombia
This series is part of an ongoing project that documents the remnants of a place that has long been forgotten. The town of Armero was destroyed in November of 1985 after the eruption of Nevado del Ruiz, killing more than 23,000 people and making it the second deadliest volcanic disaster of the 20th century. Thirty years after the tragedy, I find myself walking down the desolate streets of a what is now a ghost town trying to imagine what this place must have been like.

What remains are memories of a place once called Colombia's white city, at the time considered one of the richest agricultural towns in the country due to its cotton production. What remains are families torn apart and separated, while the survivors still mourn the loss of their parents, children, siblings, and lovers. What remains are the concrete structures where intimacy and love once flourished, and dreams blossomed. What remains are the spaces so familiar to those who inhabited them, the same ones that have now been engulfed by roots only leaving behind a glimpse of how things once were. What remains is the anger towards a natural disaster that could have never been avoided. What remains is the memory of a little girl, Omayra Sanchez, who courageously embraced death after being stuck for three days in a mud pit with her legs caught under the roof of her own house. What remains is an apologetic government that didn’t take the appropriate action to evacuate the town, even after geologists warned them about the potential dangers. What remains is the deep feeling of regret by those who, even after the warnings, chose to stay from fear of losing their homes but in the end lost so much more. Ultimately what remains is a crude reminder that nature is wise, yet always unforgiving.

By Juan Diego Reyes —

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