«Prototipos para una naturaleza rehabilitada»

Space Proyect
July 9 to September 5 2014

Press Release

Galería El Museo will be opening three exhibitions from three young Colombian artists on July 9. Ciudad Escenario (Scenario City) by Juanita Carrasco (Bogotá, 1977), will be shown in the First Floor Gallery; in the Second Floor Gallery, we will be exhibiting two series, AMPO and VIP, by young artist Javier Vanegas (Bogotá, 1984); and Prototipos para una Naturaleza Rehabilitada (Prototypes for a Rehabilitated Nature), Edwin Monsalve’s most recent work (Medellín, 1984), will be shown in the Space Project Room.

Prototipos para una Naturaleza Rehabilitada (Prototypes for a Rehabilitated Nature) (Edwin Monsalve)

Edwin Monsalve’s work has always been characterized for its technical expertise. However, it is the complexity with which the artist approaches the materials (from their limits to their origins) that immerses us in a dynamic of “balance among the technique, the concept and the process” as he describes it. For this series, Monsalve proposes to rehabilitate, by means of “orthopedic” interventions, small-scale trees (bonsai) that have been cut because they were sick or represent some type of danger to the area, with the purpose of recovering, regenerating and/or rehabilitating their physical and biological structure. Monsalve humanizes nature by providing the care and attention that would be given to a human being until their last breath. Monsalve represents himself as an observer of nature that claims the relation between nature and the subject from a critical reflection on this matter: rehabilitating and taking care of nature, or just letting her recover on her own. Monsalve studied Arts in Universidad de Antioquia. In 2012 and 2013, he exhibited his work individually in galleries in Bogotá and Medellin, and has participated in collective exhibitions in Colombia.

The exhibitions will be open to public until August 30 at the new Galería El Museo, located at Calle 81 No. 11 – 41. Open Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Free admission.


Can artistic practices offer healing experiences? Do visual arts have that capacity in any dimension of reality? Is rehabilitation possible through art?
Nature, understood from the set of planetary constituents to its abstract representation by culture, has been a transversal constant in Edwin Monsalve’s projects. The works disappear and this transit can become faster or slower depending on the care they receive from their owners. Without intending to be a militant of environmental discourse, Monsalve knows that he is interested in exploring paths where hybrid artistic practices approach and discuss relevant issues for contemporary times. Said interests have taken him through transdisciplinary research and work processes, where the limits between the practices of art and sciences become blurry. This “artistic-scientific” exploration, which is how the artist calls it, recognizes that both disciplines share the fact that they are knowledge production systems. Why not, then, explore forms of reflection and work that efficiently inquire into alternative ways of relating observation and action? The interest and contact with other professional practices and their multiple agents (medicine, nursing, botany, engineering, architecture) allowed Monsalve to understand the cut in the tree as a kind of fracture that could be healed. It was in this way that he began working with bonsais, given that this was how he could work in a practical and controlled, almost scientific, manner, with an old tree. What he found was that it was possible to repair this “fracture” because the tree’s structure was able to regenerate itself: the plant’s internal organs start communicating with one another once again and the plant’s sap heals the wound.
Can nature be treated as if it were a human being to attempt to regenerate or cure it? None of this is a simulation. The works are actually alive and they require a direct commitment to a live organism, which evidences the two essential ethical questions that are made here: what is Monsalve’s responsibility as an artist with the realities distinguishing his here and now? And as an incontestable consequence, what is the resulting co-responsibility from the audience / users / owners /consumers of these works? Should certain minimum requirements be demanded from anyone who desires to acquire the works? The plants are alive and should remain alive; otherwise, the sense of the project is lost.
Prototipos para una naturaleza rehabilitada marks a substantial change with respect to his previous projects, given that the limits between representation and real life are practically non-existent. One of the objectives of art is to operate within the territory of the symbolic. In this project, fractures, scars and rehabilitation devices are and gather an important part of the signifiers. And this is why the works clearly become metaphors for medical treatments during times of war, in areas under quarantine leading to permanent rehabilitation processes. But in addition to the foregoing, the project mobilizes certain contents of great depth in terms of the ethical questions it makes with respect to our cultural, biological and technical relationship with the natural: does nature have the infinite capacity to adapt, even when facing the most atrocious alterations? Does life always find the way? Is the project a broad metaphor about the marks left by human beings in their passage through this planet, whose signs of culture and civilization have altered the planetary and organic landscape forever? Can nature overcome these modifications? It is very likely that, in the same way as with these trees, nature requires the application of our technical and intellectual knowledge, but above all, our sensitivity and our sense of co-responsibility, to overcome its current situation.

Conrado Uribe
Researcher, curator and manager