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On behalf of the Mondriaan Fund, the Flanders Arts Institute, the Danish Arts Foundation and Pro Helvetia, we would like to thank all the institutions and people that we visited/met during this orientation trip. You all really made this trip into a unique experience for us all. We surely hope that this trip will lead to future collaborations on both sides.
Many people have given the trip long-term support, and this is the opportunity to warmly thank them for their advice, help and making things possible: Alexia Tala (Santiago, Chile), Maria Irene Alcade and her staff at MAVI (Santiago, Chile), Constanza Guell, Elisa Ibáñez and Alfonso Diaz from Antenna (Santiago, Chile), Tony Evanko and Estefania Piedrahita from Casa tres Patios (Medellin), Emiliano Valdés and Cleo van der Veen from Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin, Nydia Gutiérrez from Museo de Antioquia (Medellin), Claudia Segura from NC-Arte (Bogota), Su Tomesen (Amsterdam) and last but not least Kris Kong and Cristina for guiding us in Bogota.
Haco de Ridder (Mondriaan Fund)
‘What effected me most is the Museo de la Memoria in Santiago de Chile’
Rossella Biscotti is one of the participants of this orientation trip. She is a visual artist, living in Brussels and Rotterdam. In her practice that moves across filmmaking, performance and sculpture, she explores and reconstructs obscured personal histories against the backdrop of state institutions.
Q: Why did you decide to join the trip?
‘It was kind of intuition; I was interested in seeing how the art reflected upon the political context of the dictatorship and violence in Chile and Colombia. I didn’t know much about it. I’m glad to discover how interesting and powerful art can be.’
Q: What has struck you most so far?
‘The Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos in Chile, in particular the temporary exhibition of Arpilleras, small colored-patchwork stitched tapestries made by groups of women – including relatives of detained, disappeared and political prisoners – during the times of the dictatorship from 1973 to 1990. Depicting scenes of imprisonment, violence and military assaults, they are a visual accounts – both private and political – of actual events.’
‘The practice of embroidering narratives from everyday events is a popular tradition in many cultures, though the arpilleras were organized collectively in workshops that not only provided a way to denunciate and artistically express personal and collective experiences, but also gave them social exchange and livelihood. The beginning of this practice can be attributed to the Chilean singer and visual artist Violeta Parra, who during a long period of hospitalization in 1958 started to narrate her experiences through embroidery. The making
of the tapestries can be seen as a form of therapy, but at the same time they were also exported and sold abroad in order to collect money for the women and the resistance. It was in Europe where I saw this kind of work for the time.’
‘I am looking for a possibility to talk about history in an informative and personal manner, yet with a certain abstraction. The narratives of these tapestries contain that. And the stories are not closed. The women still meet each other to investigate the history of their disappeared relatives, to fight politically.’
‘Yesterday in the National Museum of Colombia in Bogota, I saw a similar kind of embroidered textile. This one was bigger and made by a community in Mampujan, Bolivar. The tapestry visualized the communal history of their ancestors to the present, from the passage to South-America in slave ships, to the invasion of paramilitaries in 2000 into their village and the assault, displacement and violence related to that. Seven years after these events took place the community decided to return to live in the village, upon that a group of women started to meet and draw their experiences on textile collectively. They go back into history and trace it. There is no linear timeline. Everything is part of a larger story.’
Q: How do the embroideries that you saw in Chile and Colombia relate to your work?
‘In my work I often look at social histories and traumatic events, how they can be traced in the present consciously or un-consciously, and the processes that follow, mainly within groups or communities. An example is a project I realized for the Venice Biennale in 2013. This project was based on Dream Workshop conducted inside the Female Prison of Giudecca, Venice; it consisted of a group of about fourteen women who all met twice a week to share dreams, for a period of seven months. The focus was on each person’s night dreams; however, in our conversations there was a constant shift from dreams to reality and back again, which brought in stories of violence, displacement, and institutionalization.’
‘Unlike the rest of the prison, I managed to arrange a room that wasn’t guarded, where we could talk freely. I would bring in books, films and images. We collected various things. The room became a kind of message board of various documents, particularly poems and letters, and most importantly a space and temporary community in which each of us could articulate and bounce in circles their her own dreams (and nightmares). What is most important in this project is that we managed to give shape to a collective moment, and keep that open.
‘How do you begin to tell a story and let it navigate from one narrator to the other? Where does ones voice fade so that the other can pick it up? I was trying to create a space to exchange dreams, but more specifically this project was showing how personal lives and imaginaries navigate through institutions, and specifically through this prison.’
‘I think I turned to dreams because of my friendship with Nicola Valentino and his experience with the “Dreamers of Palmi”. Nicola was condemned to life-imprisonment in 1978 as a militant of the Red Brigades. In 2006 he was set free, after 28 years of imprisonment. During his time in prison, he often reflected upon his situation as a political prisoner. At the beginning of the 1980s his hard-line communist ideology had started to “crack” and instead he and some fellow inmates began to think more about how they reconstruct their individual identities inside their collective history and political past.
‘In the high-security prison of Palmi, Calabria they decided to write down their dreams and share them collectively. It was difficult because they lived in isolation and were denied communication. One of the prisoners, who was tasked with cleaning the prison’s corridors, passed their dreams secretly from cell to cell. The group called themselves “I sognatori di Palmi” [The Dreamers of Palmi]. This particular history was my main inspiration for the project in Venice. What I saw in Chile and in Colombia, somehow relates to this form of self-organized action – that is personal as well as collective – to deal with ones past or political situation. It is not the institutions that dictate the way we deal with history, rather it is about the will of the people to build up institutions.’
Q: Do you think you will come back to Chile or Colombia?
‘I would like to come back. At this point I am more drawn to Chile, but I also feel I don’t know the context well enough, so I would have to come back and do more research.
‘At the same time I also feel it is not always necessary to make a work about something that you find inspiring or important. In the case of Chile for example I think it is rather something that the people from there should develop themselves, local artists are perhaps better to deal with that history. But I could imagine to do something else, like organizing a workshop or a lecture, or to work with the community or professionals from different disciplines. I got lot of inspirations on a broad level.’
Q: You are now heading for Cali in the south of Colombia, to do what?
‘It is an interesting city, and a different context. I will visit a friend artist, Alberto de Michele, who is opening his show El Segundo Viaje, at the Museo Rayo in the town of Roldanillo, two hours away from Cali.’
Birgit Donker & Rieke Vos
Mas Arte Mas Acción
We were welcomed, around a plethoric breakfast, by a bunch of people in the very nice house that hosts the project Más Arte Más Acción. If several persons are part of the project today, “Más Arte Más Acción” takes its roots in the practice of one artist, Fernando Arias, who lives in this house with Jonathan Colin, his longtime partner and collaborator.
After an education in advertising and communication, Arias didn’t want to cope with capitalism and decided to engage into art to “give messages”. Critic about politics and society, he often uses the body as a symbolic vehicle that condenses larger issues.
In the middle of the 90’s, at the time when Colombia was suffering the worse decade of its recent past, Arias and Colin lived in London where they had good opportunities to develop their artistic work. As he wanted to reconnect with his country, Arias initiated a long travel from London to Patagonia, then to Choco, an isolated region in the rainforest on the Colombian western coast – then London again. This one month stay in Choco was a revelation and after several years of reflection Arias and Colin decided, in 2006, to go and live there. Indeed, even if their life in London was comfortable, they were seeking to build more meaningful projects. And Choco seemed to be the perfect place to fulfill that wish!
Much like an island, the territory is boarded by the impenetrable jungle, the ocean, the Andes and Panama on the north; the nature there is extreme and its movements are intense and excessive; its inhabitants, native indigenos or Afro Caribbean from the coast, are largely neglected by the Colombian authorities and almost powerless to defend their rights facing the multinationals that are interested by the amazing resources of the forest (specially precious metals).
From 2006 to 2009, Arias and Colin lived in a cabin with no internet or other access; they felt strongly reconnected with nature, they had books, reread Thomas Moore and worked around the novel Utopia. In this period, they realised the project Casa Chocolate in the village Nuqui, a cultural centre for local communities.
In 2011, they invited the Dutch architect Josep van Lieshout to think of a “shelter” that could host activities and protect from the surrounding nature’s excesses. Since then, the project “Más Arte Más Acción” welcomes artists who engage in a dialogue with nature and the local communities in Choco. The dancer Nemesio Berrio, for instance, developed a new work through workshops with local people and a close observation of nature, while Marie Ange Bordas, an artist anthropologist, worked with indigenes and children around the question of map and territory.
Parallel to the activities in Choco, the project expanded to the centre of Bogotá, in the very same house where we meet Arias, Colin and their colleagues. This responded to a need to have an operational centre and a platform for debate. The project has significantly grown and proposes various types of activities: residencies, workshops, educational programs with communities, among others.
Since recently, “Más Arte Más Acción” is also part of Arts Collaboratory, a large international program that was initiated in 2007 by two Dutch foundations DOEN and Hivos and supported by the Mondriaan Fonds and others. With the aim to support the exchange of ideas and working methods between socially engaged structures, this networking platform counts 23 members from all around the world, specially South America, Asia and Africa. Their common dream “is to generate social change through and beyond art” and they use Utopias as a tool to think and create. Casa Tres Patios and Platahedro, that we met in Medellin, are also part of the platform.
In 2016, Thomas Moore’s “Utopia” will celebrate its 500th anniversary; this will be the occasion to articulate a series of reflections and research that will take the form of publications. Utopia, dystopia and imaginary places, somewhere between the jungle, the urban house and the books…
Flora ars + natura
Flora ars+natura is a contemporary art space in Bogotá that focuses upon the relationship between art and nature. Through exhibitions, residencies and an educational program encounters between botany and sociopolitical issues are addressed. Although the green governs in Flora, this does not entail a celebration of Colombia’s bio-diversity. Flora and fauna, instead, are allegories for national struggles and hardship such as drug trafficking, violence and pollution.
At the time of our visit, the exhibition “Avistamiento ” by Maria José Arjona was on display. Drawings, videos, installations and performances of and by birds spread out over the two floors of Flora, turning it into a hybrid of a birds nest and an exhibition space. This temporarily living together of human being and bird followed on Arjona’s intense bird observations. Five years ago she started turning her head towards the New York sky in Central Park. Together with expert birdwatchers she observed birds and analyzed their behaviors with regard to themes like climate change.
The Buteo Swansoni particularly drew her attention. This eagle and Arjona had similar migratory habits, and both had been travelling in more or less the same directions. Now the time had come for them to reach their final destination. After having spent 16 years abroad, Arjona would, together with these birds, return to her homeland. But their return to Colombian soil was not the only thing Arjona and the eagle shared. “Avistamiento” refers to the common ground, and sky, between humans and birds. “There are many things humans and birds have in common”, says Arjona, “both are looking for things, searching one another, and being surprised by one another.”
Rumor is one of the favorite tools of Nicolas Páris, and so was it with us: are we going to meet him or not? We finally made it on Friday when we were in his neighborhood. His house and studio is located in San Felipe, a neighborhood on the way to gentrification: several galleries are around and one recently opened just next door. Páris lives in the area since 2004 and since 2011 in this house where he receives our group, a place where he lives and works, his laboratory.
One key for the artist’s practice is indeed the relational aspect, even
though he doesn’t make “relational” art in Bourriaud sense. Páris works very often with groups of people, and uses the format of the workshop as a way to generate new ideas and to speculate on topics that he initiates. He says “collaboration is not the end, just the beginning. The end should be more ambitious”.
The end is then maybe something between the formal results and the traces that the work leaves in the memory. The form is really important in the work of the former architect, who taught us the concept of “knolling”, an English word for ordering straight, 90° angle; every little space in the house is super ordered and seems to be the result of a composition!
Ephemeral places of exchange instead of building “in hard”, that’s what Páris chose when ending his architecture studies. Another aspect, central to his work, is his one-year experience, in 2000, as a teacher in a rural village in Colombia, that he had to stop because of the guerrilla, and the educational program he set up afterwards in an isolated area, where the Andes, Orinoquia and Amazon join together.
More than 10 years after, he is still working on what he discovered there, specially reflecting on learning processes and ways to share knowledge. Having worked in areas where education was not the main priority is probably a reason for Páris to continue his engagement to develop educational programs as integral part of his works.
Ferns unfold in the studio of Páris: he started collecting them 2 years ago and has now numerous species. This relates to a research he is currently doing in order to understand how nature grows, which forms it takes, which rules it follows. The project will be developed in an exhibition at NC-arte next year, as well as in a pavilion that NCarte will realize on the roof of the new building of Flora ars + natura.
For now, Páris will leave soon for Lisbon where he has a solo show at Museo Berardo. He will show a room of videos that we couldn’t unfortunately watch because we were running out of time!
If his work seems somehow evanescent because of its ephemeral and
minimal aspect, Nicolas Páris is super structured, knows where he wants to go and how: “Drawing is my tool, education my system, architecture my method”.
Istituto de Visión
Instituto de Visión is a space for research, experimentation and exchange between local and international artists, markets, and cultural agents.
The program is focused on conceptual practices that propose micro-revolutions, original perspectives and personal ecosystems inserted into a specific context.
The poetics that inspire the institution originate in interchange, tropicality, decoding, cotidianity, archives and historic revision.
Trough the program Visionarios, Instituto de Vision aims at revisiting the history of Colombian art to give a position to artists who remained, despite their challenging and committed posture, alienated from the academic / official recount of Colombian Art History.
Through the program Visionarios, Instituto de Vision, undertakes an historical revision of artists from the mid XX century, who, through their innovative and bold visions, introduced transcendental changes in the art practice of Colombia, remaining nevertheless outsiders from art history. With a program of publications and exhibitions, Instituto de Vision wants to present an integral history, beyond a classification based on market success, to recover those visions, which were not giv- en their deserved positions.
Within this program, they are working with artists such as Fernell Franco, Luis Ernesto Arocha, Sandra Llano-Mejía, Nereo López, Alicia Barney, María Evelia Marmolejo, Miguel Ángel Cárdenas, among others.
Located in San Felipe-area, Bogotá’s new art district we find SKETCH ROOM gallery which reveals its motive in its name: a contemporary space dedicated to paper and various form of drawing.
Returning to Colombia after several years in the UK, Liz Caballero founded the gallery only two years ago in 2013 and has since then created a space, which not only features exhibitions, but also serves as a central Bogotá meeting point for artists and art professionals. The gallery – as for now – represents only Latin American artists, all quite young and emergent. However as Liz explains, the current Latin American focus, has more to do with long distance shipping costs than with a determined gallery strategy. The gallery is young and the long term plan is to be a leading exhibition space also on the international market. Only two yera old SKETCH has already made a name for itself and is also participating in the ARTBO fair.
SKETCH is currently showing three exhibitions, all by younger Colombian artists: Giovanni Vargas (1976): Con la Punda del Dedo (ed. With the tip of the Finger); Felipe Uribe (1982) – “Repeticiones Inútiles, Sueña En Grande No Hagas Nada” (ed. Useless Repetitions, Big Dreams, Doing Nothing); Andres Felipe Orjuela (1985) 27 Hrs Palomas Y Piedras (ed. 27 hrs Doves and Stones).
Con la Punda del Dedo by Giovanni Vargas
Already before entering the gallery we can see, that SKETCH’s approach to drawing is more of a experiental kind as the usually white facade of the gallery is integrated in one of the current exhibitions. Now in black the facade serves as a dramatic back cloth for artist Giovanni Vargas’ wall mounted circular bronze sculpture “Con la punta del dedo” (ed. With the fingertip) – also the title of the entire show.
The gallery courtyard as been included in Vargas’ the exhibition as well as the facade. In one end the work “With the tip of the finger” (bas-relief on wall) and opposite “Sol Cegador” (ed. Blinding Sun), “drawn” with filament heat wire.
Inside the gallery we find the work “The Visions of Caroline Herschel”, densely drawn graphite paperworks, referring to the 19th century astronomer Caroline Herschel – the first woman to discover a comet.
27 Hrs Palomas Y Piedras by Andres Felipe Orjuela
On the gallery’s 3rd floor we find Andrés Felipe Orjuela’s (b. 1985) exhibition ”27 hrs – Palomas y Piedras” (ed. 27 hrs Doves and Stones), featuring several works of ink and charcoal on a specially fabricated Mexican bark paper.
In Orjuela’s work we once again encounter an artistic investigation of Colombia’s violent past, as he has reproduced graphic newspaper clippings covering the guerrilla group M-19’s 1985 siege of the Supreme Court of Colombia. The 27 hour siege involved the hostage taking of some 300 lawyers, judges, and magistrates and led to the mobilization of armed military forces, resulting in heavy crossfire, and ultimately the death of more than 100 people. An important fact however, is that the involved guerrillas only counted ca. 30, and thus controversy still exists around what actually occurred, and what parties were involved.
On the end wall one drawing reads “Un asalto de locura” (ed. An assault of madness), underlining the two key elements at play 1) human madness 2) acted out violently.
Orjuela resides in Mexico (another country afflicted by a high degree of violence) and has enlarged the clippings to monumental sizes to raise awareness both of the injustice and the violence, but also of the news media’s endless and over-graphical representation of this violence. The media’s role and responsibility in this context is a reoccurring theme in Orjuela’s practice, which in many cases describes not only how violence breed violence, but how “media violence” contributes to the ever more sadistic and barbaric spiralling of actual violence.
Art, Cloth & Drinks at KB – espacio para la cultura
‘My coming out as a visual artist in Latin America’
Dick Verdult is a visual artist, filmmaker, musician and writer. The Dutch audience got to know him in the nineties as a member of the IBW (Instituut voor Betaalbare Waanzin transl Institute for Affordable Lunacy) and more recently with his solo-exhibition at the Van Abbe Museum in 2011. In numerous countries in South America on the other hand, people mostly know him as the musician Dick el Demasiado, having generated a unique blend of the popular music genre cumbia. In Bogota, on the eleventh day of our trip, we speak with him about art and music and the schizophrenia of being a permanent outsider.
Q: You’ve been performing in South America for many years and seem to know the continent very well. Why did you still want to participate in this orientation trip?
‘In Latin America I am known as a pop musician. I started making music about twenty years ago, and quickly gained a lot of success and strong feedback. But I kept my visual art practice a secret, because there was an overload of information around me already. Cumbia was mainly listened to by the lower classes in Argentina. So when I, as a blond European, started to put the focus on this music genre and to experiment with it, it was already pretty confusing for a strongly class-conscious Argentina. And if, on top of that, I had told them I was a visual artist too, I would have inundated the intrigue around me. But now it is time to come out with the visual art element. I have had a big show in Mexico already.’
Q: How are the reactions?
‘Good. It takes a while, for those who hear that I am a visual artist too, to sense the intensity of it. They first suspect I am a musician who makes drawings on the side. So, the orientation trip is a good opportunity to build up another structure of contacts, this time in the visual arts. Knocking on a different set of doors.
‘In Argentina it will be hardest to make this step-over. Music reaches everybody there, but the institutions of visual arts are pretty closed.’
Q: What is the outcome so far?
‘Chile seems a very difficult country, they still are rigorously digesting their sad past. I feel it is not my task to jump into that. From my musical experience I know you only can do something powerful and free if you are invited. If not you suffer the “political-correct” dilemmas and it starts to smell funny.
‘Colombia is different. The things I know about it are more diverse. It is exuberant. I got many new invitations. Musically, I got an invitation to play in the best place of the world which is on a pico-installation during carnival in Barranquilla.
‘On the visual arts side a young woman in Medellin approached me after the Medellin-concert and wants to make an art show with my work. Others informed me that as a cultural organizer she is “a visiting card of Medellin”.
‘Within the group contacts were made too: I will be working with curator Stefanie Noach on an exhibition/film in Cuba. And a Mexican curator appeared, who wants to take me to Puerto Rico, which is an interesting schizophrenic place, half northern American half Latino. I think my work could fit in well there, I am a schizophrenic too, a permanent outsider. All are new contacts that came through this trip.’
Q: Have your ideas about the countries we visited changed?
‘The sadness of Chile and the explosiveness of Colombia were confirmed. In Chile they have one ugly enemy; in Colombia the violence has many masks.’
Q: What are your next steps?
‘After this trip I will go to Lima, Peru, to prepare an art show in the Revolver Gallery. Ironically this gallery will also take my work to the Arteba, the art fair in Argentina. So I will go back to Buenos Aires through a backdoor, through a gallery from Peru, which is a wonderful choreography.
‘I am planning a new film. It is about Friday, the “right hand” of Robinson Crusoe. I will shoot part of the film in Chile, on the island where the story of Robinson Crusoe happened. I found some contacts of people who can help me.
‘And next year my second novel will be published in Colombia at Cain Press. It’s name will be ‘El Puré de mas Papas’ (The Mash with Most Potatoes). I am writing it as if I were a wasted Polish woman who lives in Argentina, who has had many men, many des-enchantments but deals with it happily.’
Q: How is your success here related to your career and life in Europe?
‘In the beginning it was problematic and strange, I had to digest it myself first. Holland takes pride in being political correct. Since I wasn’t called Fernandez, didn’t have a moustache and was blond, the Dutch didn’t believe the success I had in South-America. They thought I was a fake version of reality. When other musicians in South America started to copy the music I was making, in the Netherlands, they gladly believed that these imitations were the source. I couldn’t really do anything, so I just left it and accepted the confusion.
‘But this was also the moment that my visual art resurfaced in the Netherlands, the source for the show at the Van Abbe. Which had a mild, yet deep impact.
‘I consider my musical side as a wonderful platform to generate and communicate ideas. The paraphernalia, videos, interviews, flyers, backdrops reach large amounts of driven and curious people. And in a way they were all given to me by luck and destiny. I was awake enough to seize that occasion.’
Our visit at NC-arte started with an introduction by Buenos Aires based “father of conceptual art in Latin America” Jorge Macchi, who was just about finishing his installation in this spacious former old church. The organisation was founded 2011 by Claudia Hakim and her husband, both avid collectors in Bogota, with the aim to contribute to the field of visual art in Colombia and Latin America through exhibitions and events. As a non-profit organisation they are part of Fundación Neme, which allows them to invest heavily into costly space related productions.
Three solo presentations and one group show, which gives visibility also to younger artists, are the current formula per year, although the new curator Claudia Segura, who arrived only four months ago, aims for a new structure with a changing curatorial board. She explains that the developments of solo projects take mostly a long time and are much appreciated by the involved artists and staff.
Jorge Macchi, for example started investigating the space a year ago with questions like: “How do people move? And how does this conclude with the decisions to make?” Jorge developed a complex wooden structure, which mainly follows the shadow lines of a central light, which is positioned by him very carefully at the end of the darkened room. While speaking about the effects of light and shadow Jorge mentioned that the very start of this artistic subject dates back to a residency he had in 1996 at artists run space Duende in Rotterdam. Connection to Europe were always tight after this, for example with solo presentation at S.M.A.K. in Ghent or soon to come an insitu work he developed
for the city of Daense.
Our group moved to the upper floors and attended another lecture presentation by Bogotan artist Clemencia Echeverri. Her show, curated by Maria Belén Sáez de Ibarra, just finished some weeks ago. But alone the beamer presentation with many mini-speakers gave a strong idea of the impact of her most recent video and audio installation Noctulo, 2015.
Museo de Arte de la Universidad Nacional
A camera shows the facade of a colonial building, starting from the rooftop, slowly going down. It unveils a monumental entrance, where a lamp is hanging from chains, trembling. The entrance is huge and empty. The camera shows this emptiness and all of a sudden I realize: something happened here. I don’t know why but when I encounter this scene, my senses tell me something took place. What doesn’t matter, but there is a lingering between the walls and pillars.
It is a scene from the film ‘Adios a Cali’ (1990), made by Colombian artist Luis Ospina. The film focuses on the destruction of the architectural heritage of Cali. The camera registrates the buildings by slowly scanning their facades from roof to pavement. This meticulous scan shows the surfaces, worn out, dirty, cracked. A chapter of the film is named ‘Muros Testigo’: the walls as witnesses. Film was shown in Instituto de Vision, Bogota.
This interest in architectural language and its gradual disappearance through time is also a motive in the exhibition ‘Displazameintos Siquicos’ (Psychic Shifting) by Carlos Bunga (°1976, Oporto) in the Museo de Arte of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotà. Luis Opsina’s film takes the demolition of buildings in the center of Cali as a departure point, while Carlos Bunga creates a mental and physical dialogue with the modernist architecture of the museum, designed by architects Alberto Estrada and Elsa Mahecha in the 1970’s.
The museum exists out of a central hallway looking out over two patios. At the end of this hall a stack of concrete tiles of 1m2 is placed. This sculptures originates from the tiles taking out of the floor of the patio on the left. This patio becomes a grid, with equal holes repeated mathematically (Desbloqueo, 357,5m2). It is a raw intervention where no material is added, but only re-organized. Carlos Bunga does not create new objects, but uses the original elements of the architecture, proposing a new structure. This same structure is repeated in the other patio. This time Carlos Bunga excavated a square. At the surface he installed a grid of thin white treads, suggesting the closure of this space. It alienates the point of view. Inside and outside become abstract therms.
‘Reflejo’ mirrors the structure of the ceiling in the outside gallery, which also seems to the structure he reshaped the patio on. ‘Reflejo’ is installed in a long hall. It consist a seemingly endless amount of cardboard squares, the surfaces painted in white. Slowly the visitor gives in to the seduction of the works to walk in, over and around them. The encounter with the works is primarily physical, but the elegance and subtility of the pieces slowly start to capture the mind as well.
Entering the mainroom is a sensational encounter with an enormous installation that only slowly unveils his details and secrets. At first it is hard to discover where the elements are added and were the original architecture prevails. Carlos Bunga installed various high walls constructed in cardboard and adhesive tape, the outside painted white, the inside left untouched. They undergo a conversation with the modernist architecture, introducing vague industrial elements such as truces. Their presence create new insides and outsides, framing the existing architecture, commenting, shifting and changing it. The walls surround the ‘atrium’ of the main room. Daylight comes in from the roof and illuminates ‘superficie cutanea’: the floor of the atrium is (78m2) is covered with yellow paint, like a skin. The yellow is bright and radiates the ceiling. It also attracts insects, dries out, changes. It is an organic work, different every day when you encounter it. The processes of deterioration left traces in the paint and they seem to form an abstract map.
The paint is suffering. On the white walls it started rimpling and peeling off. The yellow skin on the floor changes every day. These visible forms of decay introduces time in the ehibition. The process of time changes the physical form of the installation. The use of materials like cardboard and tape also implies the temporary existence of the installations. Carlos Bunga works with construction and deconstruction, with the trace as its evidence of existence. ‘Marca’ is a room of 36m2 in which only the leftover are visible of a previously installed art work. Only a square existing out of cut tape, used to glue the work to the wall, is visible. Like in the ‘Muros Testigo’ this wall shows the scars of past events, inspiring the viewer to reenact this in his own head. Luis Ospina registers destruction, while Carlos Bunga insinuates destruction.
At the end of the afternoon we visited Espacio Odeón, an old theater located a few blocks away from our hotel. These days it hosts an alternative art fair with 17 Latin American galleries and some art related initiatives like Little Sun Colombia. Collector Leon Amitai has acquired the rights to distribute the known Olafur Eliasson Studio product within his philanthrophic circles in Latin America for the next couple of years. His goal is ambitious: to bring 80.000 Little Suns per year to the people!
Back to Espacio Odeón. The former colonial theatre has been transformed many times in the last 60 years. The building was literally forgotten until a group of people formed around director Tatiana Rais took could activate investors in 2011.
One can imagine how powerful installations or performances might work in this space. For an alternative art fair with small and delicate works it was obviously a harder task to grasp attention. Not without surprise the best impression lasted with two bigger works by Sao Paolo artisan architect Andrey Zignnatto. He
used handmade clay bricks, which are common symbols of the rapid urban changes in Latin American megacities, where old settlements disappear and new ones arise out of almost nothing.
The International Art Fair of Bogota aka ArtBo first opened in 2005 and consequently the opening on Thursday October 1st marked the fair’s 11th birthday.
Over the years, I’ve visited quite a lot of art fairs in the US and Europe, but as this trip marked my first visit ever in South America (!); I’d never visited an art fair at this latitude before. Accordingly I was excited to visit; get a feel of the fair, and to see for myself if the positive rumours abounding ARTBO’s quality were true. For some years now, art professionals have been buzzing about the promising Colombian art scene and art marked, including ARTBO, which supposedly has entered the international art fair league especially since 2012 when María Paz Gaviria Múñoz (daughter of the former Colombian president César Gaviria) took over directorship.
The fair boasts to be the “leading art fair in Latin America” and after having seen it you are likely to agree: The fair has a nice suitable size, and the quality of work presented is in general good. The ambitious TALKS programme, FORUM, is moderated by José Roca, and international curators like Manuela Moscoso and Catalina Lozano have curated special sections of the fair.
The fair is still quite young but seems to be heading in the right direction in terms of quality and intercontinental representation. Also: The fair has a sleek graphic line and is very active on social media platforms launching video teasers introducing the fair and its sections. I highly recommend that you visit ARTBO’s you tube Channel where you’ll find numerous short videos shot both before and during the fair.
-Dates: October 1st-4th 2015
-Visitors: ca. 35,000
-Artists represented: ca. 500
-Participating galleries: 84
European galleries: 24 (29 %):
From 24 European galleries 10 are from Spain
US galleries: 9 (11 % )
Latin American Galleries: 51 (61%)
Galleries from Spanish speaking countries: 65%
The 2015 edition features 84 galleries – 70 of these presenting works in the Main section and 14 galleries displaying single-artist presentations in the Projects-section co-curated by Manuela Moscoso and Catalina Lozano.
“The works found in this section offer formal, conceptual and historiographical examples that oppose or explore the relationship between figure and background as a complex exchange between the specific and the general, the fragment and the whole, the primary and the secondary narrative. ‘Projects’ 2015 aims to analyze the epistemological nuances of modernity, with special focus on the Cartesian legacy and the dialectical relationships that this perspective reveals.” (from curator’s statement)
Cuban artist Wilfredo Prieto was one of the artists participating in the curated Projects-section, represented by his Dutch gallery Annet Gelink. The ARTBO presentation included Prieto’s project “Loophole” featuring images created with a hole-puncher, exhibited in one straight line, putting emphasis on the most traditional way of displaying an artwork.
Wilfredo Prieto has punched out holes and framed them individually. Each has a special provenience which you can read about in the related mini-book.
Dutch Gallery Annet Gelink’s response to ARTBO is very positive and the gallery is this year participating for the 3rd time.
Ellen de Bruijne (left) also form the Netherlands, is participating for the first time, and has been able to learn from Annet Gelink’s good advice.
Ellen de Bruijne is also participating in the “Projects”-section with a solo presentation of Falke Pisano.
Falke Pisano, Repetition and Dispersion – 4 jokes become 5 jokes (crime), 2013 photo: Ellen de Bruijne Projects
Apart from the Main Section and the Projects section ARTBO also featured the curated section “References” (curator: Ana María Lozano Rocha) which has more of a museum-exhibition feel, featuring wall texts along with works of historical and modern masters, who have become references for later generations of artists. References featured marvellous modern pieces and the section was very informative for guests like me, who still have some reading to do on South American art history.
Others sections yet are ArteCámara, sympathetically dedicated to artists under 40 – as yet unrepresented by a gallery, and SITIO, dedicated to large scale, odd-size pieces, and site specific works placed around Bogotá.
Red de Niebla (Mist Net) 2015, Luz Lizarazo, Photo: Vanessa Albury / artreport.com