Orientation trips
The Mondriaan Fund organises orientation trips for visual artists and mediators to Asia, Latin America and Africa since 2004. The trips are aimed at exchange and cooperation between visual art professionals.

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.

Thomas Seelig

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.

Alan Quireyns

Espacio Odeón

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.

Thomas Seeling