Tierra de/por medio: Art, installation and territory at MAMU

The exhibition by the Banco de la República, Tierra de/por Medio, takes on the Colombian countryside as a place of recollection.

On the third floor of the Museo de Arte Miguel Urrutia (MAMU) visitors enter a sensory “territory,” in which five artists invoke – as the exhibition summary states – “an escape, even a heartbreak” with land, rather than portraying specific landscapes.

On the eve of Colombia’s bicentenary of Independence, Tierra de/por Medio extends the timeline back 500 years to the age of conquest with the first installation by Nohemi Pérez, using light to reflect off coal, and a visceral take on the theme of colonial exploitation.

The works of artists Noemí Pérez, José Alejandro Restrepo; Bernardo Salcedo, Fabio Melecio Palacios and Miguel Ángel Rojas form part of the Banco de la República’s collection and this temporary exhibition was curated by three well-known experts of Colombian popular culture: Luis Fernando Ramírez, Sigrid Castañeda and Julien Petit. Walking from one installation to the next, visitors quickly grasp that land is an issue at the heart of the nation’s socio-economic identity, and the exhibition makes an inevitable reference to the current situation in the country with the post-conflict.

Even though Tierra de/por medio isn’t a thematic exhibition in so far that it gives the five artists creative freedoms to interpret their territory with different mediums – in the second room – artist Bernando Salcedo builds a mountain with transparent bags filled with hay, the equivalent of one hectare, making a statement on land-ownership. Fabio Melecio Palacios is one of the young artists invited to participate in this collective show and not as well known to the public as Miguel Ángel Rojas who turned one of the gallery walls into a butterfly migration with dried coca leaves. Among the most striking works is Musa paradisíaca by José Alejandro Restrepo, in which the experience of crossing a banana grove has been deconstructed with video and ceiling made from old machetes. Musa manages to meld sensations through a recognizable object, associated both as a tool for clearing the land and also as one of rebellion and violence. The imagery is powerful, and adding to this narrative of agrarian rights and reforms, is the unresolved issue of endemic violence, presented in the illustrations of educational pamphlets that circulated in remote communities during the 1960s and 1970s.

Tierra de/por Medio runs until June 15 – Free admission.

MAMU: Calle 11 No.4-41