Many memories; One flower
The memory wall at Medellin's new Parque Inflexión is riven with 46,612 perforations. Each puncture represents a life ended by drug violence over the terrible 30+ years that convulsed Medellin. Parque Inflexión offers family and friends of victims a place to go to reflect on those they lost, and to embrace the history they're determined to never forget. This is what the park looks like today.
1—Parque Inflexión. 2—The tree of memory. 3—Flowers at the memory wall
The gnarled old tree in the middle picture was left in place for a reason. It's been there for many years, and once provided shade for the Edificio Mónaco, the infamous building that was razed to create the park. When viewed up close, it's easy to see its scars and damage, much like those afflicting people who lost family members to the violence. The old tree suffered its damage in a bomb blast at the Mónaco in January 1988, which is when the former owner vacated the premises. The building stayed empty for 31 years, until the city razed it to build the park.
The Wall of Rubble
The wall behind this sign surrounds the park like a battlement. It's composed of a heavy mesh screen, and behind that screen is a filling of crushed stone. The stone is rubble taken from the Mónaco building. The shattered rock symbolizes the brutal end of the drug empire once quartered on this site, and that exists no more. It's incorporation into the design is both useful, and inspired.
The remnants of violence
More detail of the surrounding wall. Designers and workers were careful to include parts and sections that depict the source of the rock. Even the roofing tiles were utilized as a jagged barrier atop the wall. To signal that there's no return to violence? Perhaps. People of Medellin seem determined to make that a reality.
Somos lo que dejamos a los demas: We are that which we leave behind
Parque Inflexión is a powerful symbol of what the people of Medellin want their legacy to be. At night, the wall emits a hopeful message: Even in the darkest times, light can find its way.
Edificadores de Paz: Police unit for the affirmation of peace
Artista: Linda Valentina Barrera
This sculpture is dedicated to the brave police unit that not only battled the drug dealers and their hierarchy, often at the cost of their lives, but made community efforts to affirm peace and stability in the barrios of violence-torn Medellin. Many dozens of police personnel died during the terrible years when bombs and bullets besieged this city.
Memory wall Parque Inflexión Medellin
Today, the new park is still receiving a few finishing touches. The sodded areas need a good drink of water, the black granite needs a scrub here and there, and construction debris needs to be removed. But upon entering the park we get an immediate feeling of calm and reverence, and a sense that what this park represents will never quite be finished. And that's a good thing.
The Mónaco shortly before its destruction
The decision to destroy the Mónaco building was controversial, and fraught with political and social considerations. There are many people even today who consider the old building's former occupant to be a kind of Robin Hood figure, a man who bypassed the systemic corruption and greed of the government and used his (ill-gotten) fortune to help the poor and marginalized people of Colombia. There are likely more people who saw him as the evil and greedy drug lord that he certainly was, and who welcomed the idea of a park where his headquarters sat.
Next post will address el futuro, the future envisioned by those who've embraced not only their new park, but their history as well. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for part #3.