“I do not pity those who do not protest, a tremor of branches in not a rebellion that inspires me affection. Why does the jungle not roar and crush us like reptiles to punish the vile exploitation? Here I do not feel sadness but despair! I would like to fight the battle of species, die in the cataclysms and see the cosmic forces inverted! If only Satan could lead this rebellion!”
José Eustacio Rivera. La Vóragine, 1924 p. 186
Colombian imagery, La Vóragine is synonymous for tropical forest and dense jungle, for bush, scrub, and a place of wild animals; but it is also the hideout where outlaws and guerrillas shelter. José Eustasio Rivera’s La Vóragine, a notable text in Colombian literary modernity published in 1924, is the reason why this word that originally means maelstrom in still water has moved to a random logic of the mystery that holds the excessive abundance of the Amazon. This is a novel that shows the Colombian society of the early 20th century through a clean narrative. The relationship between the novel and the title of the exhibition is not unjustified. The show presents a selection of Colombian contemporary artists who, as Rivera’s text, approach questions about national representation, thus establishing a triad between art, politics and narrative.
The exhibition features artists Fredy Alzate, Carlos Castro, Leidy & Fernando, Juan Manuel Echavarría, Juan Fernando Herrán, José Horacio Martínez, Delcy Morelos, John Mario Ortiz, José Alejandro Restrepo, Abel Rodríguez and Adriana Salazar. There is a constant narrative exercise in their work that serves as a scavenger of facts in times of crisis and, at the same time, framed within the field of art, builds a poetic dimension of reality. In this context, the sphere of Colombian artistic production doesn’t leave the spatial map of its existence; it rather seeks to invent the sociocultural landscape to create a confrontation that lays the foundations for new or transformed concepts of reality and other dimensions of the possible.
The works presented in La Vóragine encourage the exploration of the fertile field of symbolic constructions like tradition and territory, necessarily narrated. They constitute the repeated elements that contemporary art from our latitudes uses to question, interpret, and establish ideas about the self, society, and the spaces of life itself, which resonate in what we understand as national, as the idea of modern or contemporary nation can’t be conceived without narrative.
In 1995, Museo del Chopo presented the exhibition Por mi raza hablará el espíritu (The Spirit Shall Speak for My Race, which is the motto of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, by José Vasconcelos); an encounter that gathered the work of Mexican and Colombian artists with the idea of approaching discourses in order to meet in their intrinsic differences. Today, twenty years after this experience that involved three of the artists also present in this exhibition; social and political reality has brought us closer than ever to realize that art is a tool with which we can see each other, and perhaps, find each other.