July 9 to September 5 2014
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. AMPO and VIP (Javier Vanegas) In this exhibition, Javier Vanegas presents two series that aim to connect the subject with the media used in the piece. In the AMPO series, Vanegas reproduces images through a photography technique known as wet plate collodion process or ambrotype, widely used in the 20th century. The ambrotype is a silver nitrate photosensitive process that has been practically forgotten by contemporary artists because the vast majority has adopted digital media. In this series, the author “tries to recognize and evidence a particular social group using a media that highlights the reason of their exclusion”. This group is the albino people, a group that does not have a normal pigmentation because of a genetic condition and has suffered segregation, discrimination and even persecution in specific moments in history. On the other hand, VIP was born in 2005 when the artist starts collecting advertising cards from the brothels of Bogotá. With the goal of always relating the media and the subject, the artist proposes a perspective from his work to sexual discrimination. The image of women that is sold through tart cards or sex cards, is usually completely alien from the phenotype of Colombian women; the main objective is to promote the establishments that offer sexual services. With these images, Vanegas recreates, in the form of a mosaic (the tart cards end up becoming the color palette), some of the most controversial pieces in art history that were considered immoral because of their sexual content. Therefore, the technique used by the artist becomes the evidence of the social condition of the models, and paradoxically legitimizes and builds an identity of the subject and confronts us with the relationship we have today with marginality and sexuality.. Vanegas received the First Price of the Bidimensional Art Salon from the Gilberto Alzate Avendaño Organization with his series AMPO in 2013, which is part of this exhibition, and his works have been shown in different galleries and fairs worldwide. 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.
The Ampo project is named after the brilliant white color. It is a term used to refer to the whiteness of snow, or to the purity of the fur of certain animals. This project was born in May of 2011 when, after almost three years of trial and error, I managed to produce images through the nineteenth century photographic technique known as wet plate collodion or ambrotype.
There are very few people in Colombia familiar with this technique, given that one of the reactive components required for the photosensitive process is ether, which is currently forbidden in the country due to its use in the production of cocaine and other kinds of drugs. Secondly, the ambrotype is a silver nitrate photosensitive process that has been practically forgotten by contemporary photographers because the vast majority has opted for digital media.
Ampo was born due to the technical relationship between the photographic medium and the model to be photographed, in this particular case, the albino people. The support (the glass plate) in the ambrotype is manifested as a negative image on a white surface; however, if the plate is arranged on a black background, the image evidences its content positively. This simple behavior, implicit in the wet plate collodion process, made me think about the notion of how we acknowledge and make certain territories or bodies visible in the photographic language, which drew me to focus on a human group that has suffered segregation, discrimination and even persecution in specific moments in human history because of the depigmentation of their skin. This way, Ampo becomes a way in which the photographed subject shows the support of the medium, while the medium restores the condition of the photographed subject, in this case, the albino people, because of the whiteness of their skin.
Ampo is composed of a series of portraits of albino people especially built by responding to frameworks of discourse of art history, where the portrait is understood as a means of identity, legitimacy and social classification: photosensitive shots with nineteenth-century compositions in the midst of the digital age.
The model poses in front of the camera with his or her eyes closed in all the images of the series; this aesthetic resource takes place for two reasons: first, albino people suffer from a certain degree of photophobia due to the lack of melanin in their irises; this causes nystagmus (involuntary movement of the eye), which is why the eye of the albino model moves constantly, avoiding sunlight, in order to understand space. Secondly, this aspect that signals an anatomic and physical condition of the model is linked to the nature of the photographic device itself, given that, in the case of the wet place collodion, long exposure times are required to achieve a correct shot.
The VIP project was born in 2005, when the artist Javier Vanegas started to collect advertising cards from the brothels of the city of Bogotá. Vanegas was attracted by the fact that these cards sold the image of a type of woman that is usually completely alien from the Colombian phenotype (the photograph becomes the tool of distortion). These are small cards with explicit sexual content used in several cities all around the world, such as Las Vegas, London, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, among many others. This form of advertising is known worldwide as tart cards or sex cards, and its main objective is to promote establishments that offer sexual services. The collection currently has 1,900 cards with different motifs, with which the artist (re)creates some of the most controversial works in art history that were considered immoral because of their sexual content in their time in the form of mosaics with the help of software.
The mosaics are created with 1.5 cm x 2 cm pixels, each of which is formed by one of these cards, such that the color palette, typical of the popular aesthetic of the sex cards, ends up being one with the range of colors of the “original works; this way, the popular appropriates an art that has transcended towards the iconic somehow. In turn, these mosaics perform the function of restoring the works that were censored once upon a time, evidencing the change in the way we currently relate to sexuality.
Vanegas’ work seeks to evidence the size of the business surrounding the exploitation of the human body, as well as the sexual abuse that takes place in these establishments, covered by the halo of custom and normalcy. In short, VIP questions the double standards in contemporary society, taking into account that this is a market that is encouraged and promoted by and within all social levels.