‘Habladores’: Art by books

Digital artist Monika Bravo is one three Colombians showing work in the 'Habladores' exhibition.
Digital artist Monika Bravo is one three Colombians showing work in the 'Habladores' exhibition.

When it opened its doors to the art going public in 2012, the exhibition ‘The Storytellers: Narratives of International Contemporary Art’ set out to convey to a captive audience that good art – like good literature – should tell a good story. This seemingly simple theme might seem obvious as contemporary issues such as race, identity, sexuality and belief have a way of expressing themselves in art, yet how does one create a visual work based on a specific epic work of words, with- out appearing too literal, too factual, too obvious?

Curated by Norwegian Selene Wendt and Cuban art critic Gerardo Mosquera, the project ‘The Storytellers’ and subsequent exhibition in Oslo invited 17 artists from around the world to weave their visual stories based on a specific literary work and/or poem.

Although many art exhibits effuse personal narratives, Wendt and Mosquera have real connections with names of Latin American literature, especially Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel García Márquez, Octavio Paz and Reinaldo Arenas. Hence, the first exhibition at the Stenersen Museum adapted the title The Storyteller, of Mario Vargas Llosa’s award-winning novel. The Storyteller recounts the adventures of ‘Saul Zaratas’ as he sets out to become the “official” storyteller of a primitive tribe deep in the Amazon.

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While the inspiration for this roving exhibition is Latin America, ‘The Storytellers’ has grown beyond its core group, crossing geographical, linguistic, and creative borders. Artists invited to the series have created works based on English language novelists James Joyce, William Blake and Virginia Woolf.

Inside the spacious Casa Republicana, a historically-charged cultural space belonging to the Luis Ángel Arango Library, ‘Los Habladores: Narrativas en el Arte Contemporaneo Interacional’ reaffirms its Latin American roots while presenting works of three well-known Colombian artists: Liliana Angulo, Milena Bonilla and Mónika Bravo. The Colombian version showcases 21 works in sculpture, photography, film, painting and drawing. All the art works on display also reinterpret a specific literary achievement.

Born in Bogotá and working from a New York City studio, Monika Bravo’s representative work beams issues relating to perception, illusion and emotions down a hall and through three panes of glass. Transluscent landscapes have been digitally mastered to create floating layers of text, skylines and spaces. As a time-based sculpture, Bravo’s ‘Landscape of Belief’ questions us how we should construct our lives based upon our systems of belief. ‘Landscape of Belief’ is Bravo’s visual narrative of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

Casa Republicana / Banco de la República

Calle 11 No. 4-41


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