Covering 6,700 square kilometers of beautiful ondulating landscape and a canopy of thick rainforest, Nigeria’s Gashaka-Gumti is one of West Africa’s largest national parks. In this lush setting and home to one of the world’s most diverse habi- tats, the Argentine artist, Amalia Pica, got involved with the Gashaka Primate Project to learn from primates and how they communicate in order to survive.
Even though the artist arrived at the remote reserve without a defined artistic roadmap, the result of her observations is “A un brazo de distancia” and the title of her engaging show being presented at the contemporary installation space NC-Arte in Bogotá.
Putting scientific research at the heart of an artistic undertaking required hours of observation, and being a resident artist-turned-monkey-whisper provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to “see how monkeys, chimpanzees and baboons form complex and fascinating ways to communicate and develop their own societies.”
Amalia Pica was accompanied on her journey to northeastern Nigeria with filmmaker Rafael Ortega and has included footage of these endearing primates in the NC-Arte show.
According to professor Volker Sommer, director of the Anthropology De- partment of Gashaka Gumti “it is interesting how Amalia has created such amazing works of art from her time in the park. I could never have thought of this experience as an artistic one.” He adds that “is important to give artists opportunities to collaborate with science, even thought they are different disciplines that don’t necessarily share the same perspective.”
Pica is the second artist to be invited to participate in the Gashaka Primate Project. Mexican artist Damián Ortega presented his work on the transformation of ape to man at the Freud Museum in London in a 2013 exhibition.
Tree branches used to study the behavioural patterns of the reservation’s endangered chimpanzees form the centerpiece of this multi-medium project.
The artist challenges our ancestral instinct of having the natural world “at an arm’s length” and the physical distance she had to maintain while being in contact with the primates. While she could look at, but never touch the animals, these powers of observation inspire the exhibition. Known for hosting important installations by worldclass artists, NC-Arte’s most recent show reveals, that art is an act of discovery, just like science.
NC-Arte Gallery is one of 42 participating galleries in ARTBO’s Fin de Semana #ARTBOfds circuit, May 20-May 21. The exhibition runs until June 24 and admission is free.
NC-Arte. Carrera 5 No. 26B – 76