El Bosque de la Esperanza is a collaborative long-term project aiming to establish a virtual and physical, dispersed, self-managed, affordable, and modular memorial to commemorate the victims of enforced disappearance in Mexico.


Mexico is facing a humanitarian crisis. It has reached the devastating number of more than 110,000 missing and disappeared persons according to official registries whereby the number of disappeared women has tripled within the past six years. In a context of almost absolute impunity and lack of political will, families are forced to look for the bodies of their loved ones themselves, dealing with grief alone with little space to mourn.

Based on the requests made directly to us by Mexican family collectives dedicated to searching and finding their loved ones, the Bosque de la Esperanza seeks to improve the access to the right to memory across various regions in Mexico by proposing a self-constructed and virtual memorial for victims of disappearances in Mexico assisted by transdisciplinary aesthetic approaches such as Augmented Reality (AR) and film. In doing so, El Bosque de la Esperanza endeavors to weave together the Trees of Hope: ribbons hung on trees scattered throughout Mexico created by family members searching for their missing loved ones, a practice that began in 2015 in Torreon, Coahuila. Moreover, immersive technologies will be used to prompt a 
shift in perception and foster empathy among audiences who may not be directly impacted, with the aim of initiating a rehumanization process.


  1.  Further expanding the distribution and production of ribbons designed for the Trees of Hope (Arboles de la Esperanza), each bearing a picture of a victim's loved one and intended to be tied to a tree.
  2. Developing El Bosque de la Esperanza using the QR code of the ribbons to enter an online immersive platform where the families of the disappeared person can upload the material (photos, music, videos, etc.) they want in order to create their own personalised memorial site. 
  3. To address the needs of the victims and share the collected knowledge and methodologies with other collectives in Mexico, as well as with a broader audience unaffected by the issue, a documentary short film, a manual detailing the methods used, and an academic research paper will be created to disseminate the process, findings, and successful approaches.
  4. In order to share our research and to popularize the memorial across Mexico and beyond, an exhibition will be planned in various cities of the country as well as abroad in Switzerland and Germany.

For this project, VIFT is collaborating with Sergio Beltrán García who is an archi­tect, activist, and rese­ar­cher. He works closely with victims of human rights viola­tions, their defen­ders, and commu­nities in Mexico to mobilize memory in poli­tical, cultural, and legal forums. His main focus is the construc­tion of memo­rials and he colla­bo­rates with the organization Forensic Archi­tec­ture.


Aline Wani - Research Lead
Maevia Griffiths - Documentation Lead
Sergio Beltrán García
 - Creative Lead



           In collaboration with academic researchers, a dancer, and an artistic director, we created a short video and an art installation which uses contemporary dance to represent the ambiguous and complex phenomenon of ‘slipping into violence’. This project received the Best Geneva Graduate Institute (IHEID) Applied Research Project Award 2020.


Grievable // Ungrievable (2020) originates from a nine-month consultancy project supervised by Jonathan Luke Austin for the Violence Prevention Initiative (VIPRE) of the Centre on Conflict, Development, and Peacebuilding (CCDP) at the Geneva Graduate Institute for an immersive exhibition Designing Against Violence which investigates the lived realities of violence perpetrators and the redesigning of space for torture prevention strategies.

Grievable // Ungrievable attempts to aesthetically and creatively engage with the challenges of representing the interaction between perpetrators of torture and the material, spatial, and affective drivers of such brutal acts through new research methods such as contemporary dance and film.

Grievable // Ungrievable gave us the extraordinary opportunity to engage with Geneva-based artists, to discover new means of representing violence, and to bridge the gap between academia and practice through an artistic approach  to address a wider audience.

Maevia Griffiths, Massimiliano Masini, Aline Wani

Benoît Ecoiffier

Maevia Griffiths

Alexane Poggi

Dorian Voos

Copyright © 2023, Visibility for Transformation Lab. All rights reserved.