This is a research piece based on very specific archive material: the Acevedo Collection of the Fundación Patrimonio Fílmico Colombiano (Colombian Film Patrimony Foundation). Hurtado carried out this research in Bogotá in 2005. First, he selected an initial set of images which he put together into a first compilation of approximately 105 minutes, which he conceived as his starting point.
Acevedo is a pioneer of Colombian cinema. The material that is presented in Lectura belongs to a series of recordings of his which were made between 1932 and 1956. This piece is therefore a “reading” (hence its title) of something that already exists, previously existing material which Hurtado deconstructs to then edit together again, this time with a specific aim in mind, very different (almost opposite) to that of the original author, who, from a blatantly colonialist perspective, attempted to show the processes of modernisation and progress in the country in opposition to the “backwards” social contexts -although, to be precise, we should rather say “different”- of the native and extraneous communities, that is, the indigenous and afrocolombian communities respectively.
Lectura ends with images of the Llano guerrilla fighters (guerrilleros gaitanistas) and their two leaders, handing over their weapons (the two leaders were later assassinated, as has been the norm in Colombia since the start of the armed conflict).
Hurtado understands this piece as a work in progress, something which is not finished. He is indeed now working on other pieces also based on this same archive material (Lectura #2 and Lectura #3). These videos are being produced with the collaboration of the musician Carlos Gómez, who is putting the soundtrack together out of original soundscapes and recordings from the archive.
The pattern established by the chapters of Lectura corresponds to some of the constant characteristics of European colonialism in the early 20th Century (especially the inter war period) in so called underdeveloped countries, such as Colombia. The different themes can be described as follows:
- Sport games with exhibitions of olympic-fascist symbology.
- Industrial fairs or “modernisation” projects within the context of an incipient industrialisation, imported principally from Europe and the United States.
- Haciendas, the landowners and the right-wing politics applied by the Catholic church
- False peace and democracy policies under the tutelage of the US flag. Emergence of the first paramilitary groups under the protection of the state.