When Barcú launched in 2014 after a handful of residents in the historic district of La Candelaria decided to open their homes to showcase works by artists, the community-sensitive public welcomed an edgy, alternative proposal that ran parallel to the International Art Fair of Bogotá (ARTBO).

After five much-attended editions, and sixth ready to open on September 17, Barcú’s objective continues to be promoting La Candelaria as an art district relevant to the national and international scene. During six days, visitors are drawn to innovative exhibitions in colonial homes, galleries, tiendas, artists’ studios and forge of a blacksmith. “It’s a process of transformation, from taking back our streets from crime to discovering something new and relevant in art,” says Barcú founder and artistic director Christopher Paschall. “And the best way to showcase our culture is to show it overseas.”

The internationalization of Barcú is one of this year’s governing themes, even though the organizers have been bringing to the capital well-respected names in the art world for an annual event that has grown in size from 6,000 visitors to 30,000. In this year’s 11 gallery line-up are four international participants: Boccanera Gallery (Trento, Italy), Sasha Davila (Cordoba, Argentina), Galería Alfredo Ginnoccio (Mexico City) and Galería Okyo (Caracas, Venezuela). The homegrown talent is represented by five galleries from Bogotá.

One of the defining characteristics of Barcú is a walking circuit, and this year has as its creative artery the Cra 1, which shaped like an H, unites Calles 10 with 9. In the middle of the street is Barcú Village, a family-oriented space with activities for children, food stalls and live music. The 18 Casas Barcú selected as part of the circuit include charming homes, boutique hostels and Foundations Gilberto Alzate Avendaño (Calle 10 with Cra No.3-16) and Casa Cakike (Cra 1 No.9-44). And as Paschall emphasizes: “Barcú can’t be walked in a day.” The Netherlands delivers one of the festival’s guest artists, Zedz, considered a Piet Mondrian of the modern mural. With his geometrical graffiti created by computer graphics, Zedz’s colorful adaptation of typography to architecture will surely find an empty wall in La Candelaria. Spanish digital artist Solimán López charts his course at the fair with “Media Art,” the umbrella term to describe his visceral aesthetics and hyper-realities. López is the Innovation and Development director of the Escuela Superior de Arte y Tecnología in Valencia.

No stranger to the transformative power of art is Rafael Gómezbarros, the Santa Marta-born artist who unleashed a colony of metal ants on emblematic Colombian buildings, including the nation’s Capitol. His most recent production “Beautiful things make us slaves” will be unveiled at Casa Teatro Taller (Calle 10 No.0-55) and consists of a monumental work forged from recycled materials.

Offering much-needed wall space to non-commercially represented artists is also a pillar of Barcú’s manifesto and Spotlights in its 2019 version showcases paintings, drawings and photographs by 17 emerging talents.

Film also contributes to the creative energy of Barcú with the recently inaugurated home of the Cinemateca de Bogotá, offering a slate of socially relevant films curated as Statements.

Then, a much-anticipated immersive Silent Disco and musical highlight for Barcú revelers. So, besides wearing comfortable walking shoes, when three D.Js duel-off, put on some wireless headphones and dance to your own tune.

To honor all the Colombian live acts that were invited to perform at Glastonbury, England, this summer, Paschall called on Briton Malcolm Haynes to host a streamlined version of the world’s largest outdoor festival, and taking to the stage in Barcú Nights are Absalon y Afropacífico, Salsa N Groove, Los Yoryis, Mabiland, Ghetto Kumbé, La Payara, Sol Okarina, Acido Pantera, and DJ Dani Dabba.

Barcú is a celebration of community in the broadest sense of the word, dedicated to pushing artistic boundaries and offering Bogotanos a cultural inclusive happening. As a privately-funded event Day Passes can be purchased at Barcú Village (Cra 1 between Calle 10 and 9) for $25,000 pesos. Children, aged 12 and under, get in free until 9:00 pm. The Night pass (Sept 17 – 22, except Saturday 21) also costs $25,000 pesos. The festival is open weekdays from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm., and on Saturday and Sunday from $11:00 am to 9:00 pm. For the complete cultural listing visit: www.barcu.com