HERE/NOW: Current Visions from Colombia features twenty artists presenting contemporary art and photojournalism created in the context of Colombia. The exhibition explores these artists’ responses to the shifting cultural, social and political landscapes of a country scarred by a 60-year long history of armed struggle.
HERE/NOW brings together both established and upcoming artists, revealing how artistic perceptions on the country’s history of political violence have shifted between generations. The artworks at Framer Framed can be characterised by the use of conceptual and metaphorical languages to speak of the human cost of the Colombian conflict. These are works that tend to be formally subtle, austere, imbued with a sense of mourning.
A highlight is the installation Narcisos by Oscar Muñoz (see image above), that uses ephemeral materials to relate to memory, loss, and the precarious nature of human life. Muñoz, a recipient of the Prince Claus Award in 2013, is one of the most significant contemporary visual artists in his country, and his work has gained solid international recognition in recent years.
In contrast, the works presented at Beautiful Distress House tend to exhibit perspectives that are more critical and cynical in tone and in which humour and irony are meaningful tactics. These works are less focused on the traumatic effects of political violence and more on the role of the media in defining the symbolic order that represents the war. The disparities in approaches and languages that rise between the two parts of the exhibition evoke the ungraspable nature of Colombian reality.
Framer Framed: María José Arjona, Milena Bonilla, Clemencia Echeverri, Laura Huertas Millán, Guillermo Moncayo, Oscar Muñoz, Luis Roldán, Ana María Rueda, Carlos Villalón, Más Arte Más Acción, Stephen Ferry, Miguel Ángel Rojas
The exhibition also introduces the power of documentary photography, in a part of the exhibition curated alongside non-fiction photographer Stephen Ferry. Transcending the walls of the two exhibition spaces, there is also an outside installation at NDSM wharf, by cultural foundation Más Arte Más Acción. The installation, Re:Bandera, consists of 12 selected flags designed by Colombian artists at a critical time when the country was at the eve of a new era of peace.
HERE/NOW speaks of a time and place faced with the paradoxes of social conflict. By mixing the metaphorical languages of art with the more direct stance of documentary photography, the exhibition seeks to bring nuances and complexity to the understanding of the experience of life and art in the context of social conflict. The different visions featured in HERE/NOW stress the potential of visual culture in Colombia as a form of resistance and questioning, and affirm the crucial role it plays in building a memory of the present.
Carolina Ponce de León is an independent curator and art critic. She has served as the Visual Arts Advisor at the Ministry of Culture in Colombia between 2015 and 2016 and was has been Director/Curator of Visual Arts at the Luis Ángel Arango Library (1984-1994). She has also been curator of the Museo del Barrio in New York.
As an art critic, Ponce de León has published weekly columns in the main national newspapers such as El Tiempo and El Espectador. Her publications also include books, essays, articles and reviews. She has been an adjunct professor in the graduate programs of visual criticism and curatorial studies at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She lives and works in Bogotá, Colombia.