We Forget to Think We Were Born

The poorest manifestation of hunger is violence

Glauber Rocha

Aesthetics of Hunger, 1965

 

Rafael Gómezbarros’ work addresses the political situation in Colombia at the end of the 20th century, a country marked by an internal conflict that generated one of the longest undeclared civil wars in Latin America, the artist as a passive spectator of these recent events, goes collecting and documenting information that transforms into a series of installations and art interventions that talks about the violence in Colombia from the poetics of art. In the same way as the Brazilian filmmaker Glauber Rocha, who becomes a witness and narrator of the events of his time in the revolutionary Brazil of the 60s, through his film production, which are the basis of his manifests “Aesthetics of Hunger ”(1965) and“ The Aesthetics of Dreams”(1971)[1]. Rafael Gómezbarros, through his production of sculptural installations, builds his “Aesthetics of Memory” as a silent strategy against the systematic forgetting of the Colombian state and society against the victims. His works become those exceptional witnesses who keep the memory in force as a guarantee of non-repetition. The exhibition at Sevil Dolmaci Art Consultancy, brings together four moments of his work, where the artist tries to answer deep questions: to forget the disappeared?, can we trust to the other?, why do we emigrate? and finally, why am I so hungry?

 

In the exhibition, we can see the installation titled “We Are Numbers” (Somos#), where 10 sculptural pieces made of fiberglass in the shape of tibia human bones from which small trees are born on the top, remind us of the so-called “mass graves”, places of clandestine burials where they rested the dead bodies of the kidnapped and disappeared. More than 5.000 such graves were found in Colombia in the last 12 years, product of the violence of the guerrillas, the paramilitaries and the military forces of state. The artist confronts us and asks us about, how this society is capable of forgetting the disappeared? The small trees that sprout above the sculptures are that hope of the memory that flourishes to remain indelible in the memory of their loved ones, in the last 12 years more than 4300 bodies have been identified in these mass graves and given to their relatives in memorial ceremonies[2].

In the installation “We Are Human”, 20 sculptural pieces in ceramics in the form of joined hands that hang from the ceiling, in the form of swings that invite the viewer to sit, but the doubt is rocked in each of those pieces of hands intertwined: Can it resist? Here another question made by the artist is: can we trust the other? In a country that has emerged from the conflict through a peace treaty[3], distrust of the leaders of each of the parties and of the population that has been located on either side is indelible. “We are Human” reiterates that human condition of not being perfect, but also that condition that allows us to change, that invites us to reconciliation and forgiveness to give an opportunity to one who was once our enemy.

The violence of the conflict that spread throughout Colombia, generated the displacement and uprooting of a good part of the population that was forced to move and migrate to other countries, the exodus of Colombians at the end of the twentieth century, leads the artist to raise one of his most emblematic works “House Taken” (Casa Tomada), an intervention with ant-shaped sculptures, which take different buildings around the world. Ants like in Julio Cortázar’s story “House Taken Over”, operate like a metaphor, in the same way the artistic intervention in the buildings call the attention over the migration and uprooting problem. Why do we emigrate? It is the artist’s question, why we leave our place of origin to face another culture, another language and another way of life? As migration has become one of the most important global problems in the contemporary world, the series “House taken” have been shown in museums and art events in more than 10 countries (Colombia, Dominican Republic, Belgium, Cuba, Austria, United Kingdom, Sweden, South Korea, Turkey and the United States) where sculptural pieces in the form of ants, constituted art interventions in facades of symbolic buildings and architectural structures, to talk about immigration, forced displacement and uprooting, in each of these places migration is present with different conditions, but they always have in common a migrant who moves with the idea of the search for a better future.

The exhibition is complemented with another installation made with 7 metallic spheres and 100 aluminum spoons, entitled “I Eat, You eat, He eats” (Yo como, Tu comes, El come). This time the artist refers directly to the problem of hunger: why am I so hungry? At the dawn of the 21st century, hunger far from being eradicated becomes another global threat as one in nine people suffers from hunger in the world. The numbers of people suffering from hunger in the world increased again for the third consecutive year, according to The State of Food and Nutrition in the World 2019, also known as the SOFI report that is published jointly by the United Nations Organization and the World Food Program (WFP)[4]. Latin America and Colombia are no exception, hunger is considered as one of the most acute problems and one important trigger for violence, as are social inequality and lack of opportunities.

Through his work, Rafael Gómezbarros, also wants to ask the public about all these topics that occupy him, inviting the public to create their own answers and own experiences. Each series has been thought of by the artist very cautiously, inviting them to build those memory processes who fight oblivion as a strategy, inviting us not to forget that we were born and we must preserve what matters most: our own life.

 

JAVIER MEJIA

Independent Curator

August 2019

 

[1] Glauber Rocha was an important cinematographic director and Brazilian critic who developed perspectives and analysis of the socio-political context of his time, his cinema contributed to the formation of a movement called “cinema novo”, which was distinguished by the constant reproach and reflection about the sociological events between the late 50’s and 70’s, a period where there was an important context for Latin American cinematography. Manuel Alejandro Muños, Cinéfagos Magazine. Recovered from https://www.elcolombiano.com/blogs/cinefagos/glauber-rocha-y-el-cinema-novo/2429.

 

[2] El Espectador. Identification of victim bodies, one of the greatest legacies of Justice and Peace. 3 May 2018. Judicial Writing Recovered from: https://www.elespectador.com/noticias/judicial/identificacion-de-cuerpos-de-victimas-uno-de-los-mayores-legados-de-justicia-y-paz-articulo-753386

[3] El País. The Peace Process in Colombia. In November 2016, Colombia and the FARC guerrillas sign a peace agreement ending 50 years of war. Recovered from: https://elpais.com/tag/proceso_paz_colombia/a

[4] Food safety report. Recovered from: https://historias.wfp.org/lograr-un-mundo-sin-hambre-sigue-siendo-un-reto-segun-reporte-sobre-seguridad-alimentaria-dcfa48a52d23

 

Date

09 09 2019 - 25 09 2019

Location

Sevil Dolmacı Art Consultancy
Narmanlı Apartmanı, Nişantaşı, Şişli