Marcos Ávila-Forero 'Un pechiche para Benkos', 2017

Benkos Biohó, a slave and leader of the first Colombian emancipation movement, died in 1622. In a video work denouncing historical slavery and today’s ill treatment of migrants, Marcos Ávila-Forero reclaims a small drum called pechiche, used by Afro-American slaves to send coded warning messages. On a drum made with the original materials and techniques, the artist plays the secret messages of days gone by. Un pechiche para Benkos reproduces the boat journey of all the Benkos from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, together with that of the modern migrant Camara Mwa Abdallaye, attempting to cross the Mediterranean in a small canoe. For all the apparent globalisation and universalisation of human rights, today’s methods of exploitation are still reproducing the parameters of the past.