While visiting Guatemala a few years ago, somebody accidentally reveals a familial secret to me in a brief sentence: “Your grandfather went into exile in Mexico at the time of Jorge Ubico”. Actually this is the first time I hear something about him but no one wants to speak anything else about him, neither Ubico’s dictatorship during 1930’s. However he had left four photographs to my family -his scant traces of survival- which then passed to me. Those images suggest that my newly-met grandfather was a dissident voice in Tacaná, his hometown in Guatemala.
The discovery is strange and fascinating like the old photos that I find (maybe they find me) in a Berlin antique dealer, days before traveling to Guatemala: photos of a Zeppelin’s journey from Germany to the Americas by an unknown author, also taken during the thirties. Why does the dictatorship persecute him? What kind of violence faces him and his family? Why is his identity document disrupted, the only one preserved by Guatemalan official records? Driven by my self-chosen exile in Berlin, I embark on a journey to find out the reasons behind the years of forced absence of my grandfather, to unfold the unknown which I have idealized by recognizing a sense of belonging with it. Tacaná is a journey of encounters and divergences with the mutation of realities -own, foreign and invented- sheltered in the self-censorship. It is a personal way to articulate memory, the place which redefines my self, the self of my family, and gives a meaning to my exiled self.