Periódicos de Ayer – Newspapers from Yesterday –  is the latest exhibition to open at the Museum of Art Miguel Urrutia (MAMU) in Bogotá. Curated by María Wills and Alexis Fabry, the exhibition looks at how contemporary works by Latin American artists have been inspired by newspaper production, from raw materials used in printing presses, to typography, photography, adverts and final texts.

The death of the newspaper as a consumer necessity has been predicted long before the advent of the digital age and social media platforms. While newspapers, for many, remain an essential and reliable source for news and other editorial content, the exhibition, from the vantage of the spectator,  “resists” as the curators claim, the extinction of one form of modern communication.

There’s a quotation  – on one of the walls – by Puerto Rican singer Héctor Lavoe (1946 – 1993) that states: “Why read a newspaper from yesterday, which no one else tries to read anymore; sensational when it came at dawn, at noon and confirmed news, and in the afternoon, a forgotten matter.” These lines from the 1976 salsa classic Periódico de Ayer became more acute with the pandemic, affirm the curators, given tactile adversity over contagion.

The exhibition by the Banco de la República (Central Bank), and entity that owns the country’s largest public library Luis Ángel Arango, showcases pages from national newspapers, among them El Espectador, El Tiempo, El País, El Heraldo, El Diario del Caribe, El Espacio, Vanguardia Liberal, and how they were used as canvasses to convey debate and discourse on a wide slate of issues. From Pop Art collages to cut-outs, newspapers from the second half of the 20th Century have become the tools and starting points for the works of Latin American artists such as Edgar Álvarez, Lourdes Grobet, Beatriz González, Sady González, Juan David Laserna, Jose Trinidad Romero, Carlos Aguirre.

Tapping into political and social discontent during the sixties and seventies, Latin American artists produced counter-narratives to challenge societal norms, existing class structures and military repression across the continent.  Many of the artistic proposals that emerged during these decades of economic and political change were not considered worthy to be shown in a museum, until MAMU.

Among the Colombian artists featured are Álvaro Barrios who published his engravings in two regional papers El Heraldo and Diario del Caribe de Barranquilla, Juan David Laserna with his series of paintings on black and white digital prints and Alicia Barney who adorned the pages of newspapers highlighting the importance of biodiversity and ecological art.

Three others – Beatriz González, Edgar Álvarez, Viki Ospina – are also present given their  influence on the development of editorial design and news photography.

The exhibition runs until December 31, 2021.

Open Monday to Saturday (except Tuesday) from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. Sunday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Miguel Urrutia Art Museum (MAMU)

Calle 11 No.4-21