Colwell’s El Salvador Project was inspired by Alain Resnais’s film Hiroshima Mon Amour, a love story that asks how we understand the difficult histories of others. The opening conversation in the film presents a paradox that fascinated Colwell: while we can read about another’s history, go to museums dedicated to that history, visit the sites of past events, and feel genuine empathy for the people who lived that experience, in the end, we are actually very limited in what we can know about another’s past.
Virginia’s work Mon Amour is a reinterpretation of Marguerite Duras’s script for Alain Resnais’s film. Colwell’s work weaves her own field notes from her research in El Salvador into the opening scene of Duras’s screenplay. However, Colwell’s script creates separate chapters for each character’s lines, the scenery and acting notes, thus fragmenting and isolating each narrative of the past.