2008 – Across Geographies

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Across Geographies
Curated by Adriana Rios Monsalve

Including works by Surendra Lawoti and Antonio Valencia

Both Surendra Lawoti and Antonio Valencia are artists that have moved across geographies quite extensively. Both of their works, although very different in conception, method and result, are tied together by their travels, their idea of territory is not a fixed notion. Across Geographies, presented in conjunction with Fotoencuentro 2008. Migration, Tourism and Displacement, talks about the ability to move through the world, freely or being forced out. This exhibition refers to moving from one place to another as a complex experience.

Surendra’s work reflects upon personal experiences, psychological implications, legal procedures, and a sense of powerlessness, bringing together a wide array of photographs such as constructed imagery, landscape, self-portraiture and portraiture. Surendra’s photographs belong to a series called Many Rivers to Cross, based on his own experiences of migrations and multiple border-crossings. This series introduces the idea of place from a psychological and geographical perspective, shifting between “I am here” and “I was here”. He was born in a small village in Nepal. When he was 21 years old he ventured out to pursue education in the US. After 14 years of American life, he has just moved to Canada.

Antonio’s work talks about the actual act of traveling through a territory, in a bubble, on a bus or automobile, as a passenger that wonders about the reality of a country that he sees. During these trips a monologue is developed in his mind while shooting, without setting the frame, with his camera. Both, shooting speed and bus speed leave a trace on the photographic image; the result is a blurred image. Here the technical is conceptual, this reflects upon the diffuse image people have about the situation in rural Colombia. He documents the traces of sociopolitical conflict while, literally, displacing across the country. Antonio was born in Pereira, Colombia, lived in Bogotá for 5 years, and he has been living in Medellin for over 12 years.

They both have moved out their hometowns due to a tense political situation that reflects on a precarious economy and a lack of better opportunities. The Nepalese political situation, violence and displacement have been critical because Nepal is a strategic place that converges a large number of interests for religious, political and ethnic reasons due to its geographical and historical relevance. During the decade of Maoist rebellions more than 12.000 people died. The UN said 100,000 people were displaced (taken from BBC news). After May 2008 Nepal is no longer a monarchy, it is now a Republic. In Colombia displacement is a phenomenon that has permanence over time. A historical concentration of property-owning leaves small title-holders in a vulnerable situation. Since La Violencia and due to drug trafficking and armed conflict, acquisition of land is of strategic importance manifesting itself primarily in areas where drug can be grown, processed and transported as well as areas where mega projects are being developed such as highways that connect with key parts of the country, hydroelectric dams, African palm and other plantations. As a result there are about three million people displaced.

A través de las geografías
Curaduría Adriana Rios Monsalve

Obras de Surendra Lawoti y Antonio Valencia

Tanto Surendra Lawoti como Antonio Valencia son artistas que se han movido ampliamente a través de las geografías. Sus trabajos, a pesar de que son distintos en concepción, metodología y resultado, están ligados por sus viajes y la idea de que el territorio no es una noción rígida. A través de las geografías, presentada en el marco del Fotoencuentro 2008, Migración, Turismo y Desplazamiento, habla de la capacidad de moverse por el mundo, por elección propia o siendo forzados. Esta exposición hace referencia al hecho de moverse de un lugar a otro como una experiencia compleja. La obra de Surendra Lawoti está basada en su propia experiencia de migración y de cruce de fronteras. Aquí introduce la idea de lugar desde un punto de vista psicológico y geográfico, pasando del “Aquí estoy” al “Aquí estuve”, articulando un amplia gama de fotografías que incluyen imágenes construidas, paisajes, autorretratos y retratos. La obra de Antonio Valencia refleja el acto de viajar a través de un territorio, metido en una burbuja, llámese bus o automóvil, en calidad de pasajero que se pregunta sobre la realidad de país que allí ve. En el viaje se produce un monólogo en el pensamiento mientras la cámara captura libre del esquema de encuadrar. La velocidad de obturación en la cámara y el movimiento del bus imprimen una huella mas en la imagen fotográfica, resultando una imagen borrosa. Aquí lo técnico es conceptual, es una reflexión acerca de la imagen difusa que tenemos de lo que sucede en el territorio rural de Colombia. Antonio registra las huellas del conflicto sociopolítico mientras se desplaza, literalmente, a través del país.

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