The Colombian artist Andrés Orjuela exhibits the remains of stories devastated by countless violent acts of Mexico and Colombia at the Espacio El Dorado.
Mass media is in charge of recording those acts that made a blood scar in a territory and sometimes, some more than others, reflect the cruelty in a sensationalist way, turning a sad and disconsolate act in an everyday action. Starting from there, Andrés Orjuela thinks about information handling and, more specifically, about the images and graphs in mass media in Mexico and Colombia, in order to show violent acts in those countries in his most recent exhibition Miserere: Vestigios de una historia.
“The title of the exhibition is inspired by Psalm 51. Actually, it’s a psalm where exists that contradiction where the believer does a humble act and declares he’s guilty and, also, declares that those transgressions are terrible, then asks God to forgive him, but only when he’s cleansed from his sin, he will be able to offer an holocaust as a reward, that is, a blood sacrifice”, comments the curator of the exhibition, the Mexican Irving Domínguez. This guilt is shown in those unpunished acts that are visually projected on newspapers and magazines in Mexico and Colombia, which are identified in several sections of the exhibition itself.
At Espacio El Dorado’s third floor, the sculptures show war scars. Suspended from thick threads, small particles coming from the Mexican Alarma! Magazine form four heads that tell the massacre occurred in Yucatán, the first recorded by the artist when he arrived in Mexico in 2008.
“Settling in Mexico was the base to develop my artistic work. An analysis to the media coverage of the violence where is more frequent than in Colombia”, says Andrés Orjuela.
This Colombian artist, after finishing his degree at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, traveled to Mexico in 2008 in order to take a Master’s Degree in Art and Engraving, being this country the one that gave him the tools to develop an artistic concept. This way, when being immersed in data recording about violence in Mexico, he ran into Alarma! Magazine, a publication that unseemly shows cruelty, blood, and dead and damaged bodies on its images.
“Each floor has a work cycle, a project where they’re coordinated based on this reflection about violent representations and mass media, particularly industrial graphic (…). Here we have two faces of Andrés’ artistic process: the first one is related to this very serious reflection on violence representation, reaching criminal acts or massacres in contemporary Colombian history. The second one deals with this much more playful coverage that is Alarma! Magazine, says the Mexican curator.
Additionally to the great interest in the magazine’s content, Orjuela is interested in the graphic production of this publication and, this way, he accomplish to create Muestrario, with 1011 samples as if it were a laboratory, where each one of them has a particle that shapes each one of those images that appear in the magazine.
On the same floor, giant sculptures made by pieces of Colombian news titled Ánimas, these large men have information and images of three despicable events occurred in Colombia; the first one corresponds to the attack in Maquetalia in 1964, when the FARC was formed in Colombia, the biggest guerrilla of the country. The second sculpture makes an allusion to the Bojayá massacre occurred in 2002. The third sculpture was created with data found about the Mapiripán massacre in 2001, caused by a paramilitary group.
On the second floor, a series of paintings that reflect different articles with their corresponding images extracted from the Alarma! Magazines from the 70s. Elvis Presley and Marylin Monroe’s death, drug dealers and minor crimes; Andrés Orjuela represents them on press cuttings:
“When I got my first Alarma! Magazine, I took it as if it were a porn magazine; I was afraid of opening it at the Ciudad de Mexico subway, but then I realized that everyone was doing the same, seeing the magazine’s cove, a death person or a naked woman”, says the artist.
On the first floor, covered by a dark shadow, the mourning and death stages are shown on the pieces that shape this part of the exhibition. At first, a video recorded ten years ago that shows images of the Camenterio del Sur, Bogota, is played. It was said that some victims of the Palace of Justice coup ended up buried in this large grave that nowadays is a great park for kids.
After the video, large pictures of dead flowers are shown, a procedure that the artist made without a camera. With the help of a high-resolution scanner and going back to the idea of darkrooms, he prepared the flowers based on a Japanese process called Hanasumi. “I was buying many flowers to my house, but suddenly I realized I was buying living things that were dying in vases and that I would then throw away. It’s a bit violent but real relation; the flower is a living thing that we see dying in a vase. This was included in a series called Eden, which consisted of recording that encounter between the living and the withered of the flower with a photographic series that precedes this new series”, explains Andrés Orjuela.
The series that is exhibited at the Espacio El Dorado was made with the flowers found on this old Cementerio del Sur, recollected on Mondays as a ceremonial act; people who visit the cemetery continue leaving flowers and water on this old graveyard.