Scott Dalton – Macondo

February 9, 2011

© Scott Dalton from series 'Macondo'

Scott Dalton’s Macondo explores the Caribbean region of Colombia, taking as its inspiration the fictional town of Gabriel García-Márquez’s ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude.’

I remember this project when it made the rounds of the photo-blogosphere a couple of years ago. Since I’m in Colombia, I figured I might as well write a post it. Here’s a snippet from the project’s statement:

Macondo, with its surreal charm, has come to symbolize for Colombians everything good and special about their country– a welcome relief from the stereotypes of drug-trafficking and violence that so mark it. Eccentric and eclectic, timeless and earthy, vibrant and lush, a place where truth and fiction, myth and reality merge, Macondo is as much a state of mind as a place.

I’m writing this post in the gray drizzle of Bogotá [elevation 2600m]. In part this project underscores for me the incredible cultural diversity and geographical complexity that it is Colombia. The Caribbean coast almost might as well be another country. It’s certainly another world.

© Scott Dalton from series 'Macondo'

I cringe a little at the project’s linkage to García-Márquez. If I were a young writer in Colombia, I’d certainly want to kill the guy. The danger, which Dalton avoids, is trading one set of cultural cliches [drugs, war, violence] for another [sentimental magic realiism]. Referencing Colombia’s best-known writer is a clever hook but I worry that it sells the project short. Macondo is an insightful and fully contemporary exploration of rich and fascinating region and needs no hook.

I say that drugs and violence are a cliche in the representation of Colombia but they are also very real. Dalton, who spent 10 years documenting the country, is no stranger to this. He co-directed a documentary, La Sierra, about gang warfare in Medellín and has various galleries on Photoshelter depicting conflict in Colombia and elsewhere.

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