‘Nefandus’ Carlos Motta

Unspeakable sin

Sodomy: an unspeakable sin. This is what the Spanish Royal Academy Dictionary preaches. A source or a river?

The appointment is in a hotel room. Number 26. Murmurings can be heard in various languages: French, English, Portuguese, German and Chinese. There are chairs and two beds, one on each side and people sprawled randomly around. The windows disappear behind a felt curtain and the light in the room is dim. Only a large screen draws their gaze. One single gaze.

We are in luck: the film is on a loop and we arrive just as it is starting again. A spotless landscape then appears which someone present describes as being of a “savage beauty”. It is the Don Diego River which beings in the Colombian Sierra Nevada mountains and flows out to the Caribbean sea. There are trees and scrub that hint at the existence of monkeys, toucans, macaws, iguanas and snakes. The water is crystalline, pure and transparent. A man in a long canoe moves calmly and silently over its surface.

A voice speaks off screen. Hispanic. Gentle. Clear. But the story it tells breaks the calm. The word “savage” then comes to mind that someone in the room just mentioned a moment ago. What is savage?

The voice speaks to us of unspeakable sins. Of acts of sodomy that took place in the Americas at the time of the conquest. About how the Spaniards were horrified to discover homoerotic relationships among the natives. Of how the Spaniards sodomised thousands of natives to death with weapons and lances as a punishment. Who is the savage?

The river flows through this virgin landscape. The water is crystalline but the voice suddenly tinges it with blood. The film whose story is so thought-provoking lasts scarcely twelve minutes. It is called ‘Nefandus’ and earned the artist Carlos Motta the Catalonia Ramblas prize at the Videoarte LOOP 2013 fair.

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