Posts Tagged ‘colombia’

Camilo Echavarria – Paisajes Ilustrados

September 5, 2013

Camilo Echavarria - Paisajes Ilustrados

Camilo Echavarria – Paisajes Ilustrados

Camilo Echavarria - Paisajes Ilustrados

Camilo Echavarria – Paisajes Ilustrados

Camilo Echavarria - Paisajes Ilustrados

Camilo Echavarria – Paisajes Ilustrados

Last year while traveling in Colombia, I was on a bus going from Medellin to Bogota a journey which like many in Colombia, seems short distance map-wise but turns out to be an all-day journey on twisting roads over a dense mountain landscape. As we ascended out of the Magdalena river valley the twin volcanos of Nevado Ruiz and Nevado Tolima were visible to the west. It seemed amazing that my eyes could be beholding 17,000 vertical feet in one scene, but there it was.

Camilo Echavarria’s series Paisajes Ilustrados (illustrated landscapes) documents the bewildering variety , complexity and sheer beauty of Colombia’s landscape. It also interrogates the idea landscape being a human construction both in terms of our modifications of the landscape but in also how we choose to represent it (I’m paraphrasing from the artist’s statement). I stared at the first image a good long time entranced, not realizing the impossibility of the view.  Echavarria subtly composites some, but not all, of the photographs to create views of (literally) impossible beauty, leading the viewer to question the idea of landscape itself.

Medellin Snapshots

July 9, 2012

I’m leaving Medellin today after a nearly six week stay. I’m dying to get my medium format rolls developed. In the meantime, here are some snapshots with my digital camera from my wanderings around Medellin.

The city sits in a narrow valley with neighborhoods climbing both sides, quite high. After the flatness of Buenos Aires, I find the topography of the city fascinating.

Metrocable to La Aurora

This is a very postcard-y picture of the cable car leading to La Aurora on the eastern side of the city. A lot of the neighborhoods climbing the hillsides are impoverished and have difficult access. Medellin is the first city in the world to use cable cars as mass transit (Caracas, with a similiar topography, is now also using them). I had to post this picture because as a child I used to fantasize about cable cars being used as mass transit (I was a very geeky child). These cable cars are probably the coolest thing about Medellin.

Overhead noon-day sun in Medellin

The hottest thing about the city is the noon-day equatorial sun. Being at 5000ft. above sea level does take some edge off the heat but the sun striking directly down from overhead is intense. The city is just 6 degrees north of the equator and I find there’s something odd and not at all photogenic about the way things look in this kind of light. Trying to find interesting ways to photograph under these conditions has been a challenge (one that I’ve mostly failed).

Botanical garden on a sunny day

Like most places I go, I like the regular architecture and decoration of houses in middle-class neighborhoods.

House in Las Granjas

House in Belen

The rich neighborhood is called El Poblado. It’s one side of the valley with brick apartment high rises climbing far up the side of the mountain. It’s sort of this neo-liberal hell whose residents think they’re in heaven. It’s all mega-apartment complexes meant to be driven into or out-of but the road infrastructure is so poor that you spend 30 minutes in traffic just to get to the supermarket. Still, the views are interesting. You’re often somewhere in the middle with buildings above and buildings below with no clear sense of where the ground is. I like that.

El Poblado

And finally, I’ve been photographing a lot at dusk. I’ve been taking two pictures of the same view separated by 15 minutes, like I did for my Pulmones project in Buenos Aires. It’s a really simple device but I like the effect. Plus it’s been a good goal to try to find myself someplace interesting every night at 6:20pm (the time of sunset doesn’t vary a lot. We’re close to the equator).

Dusk, La Aurora

Dusk, Calasanz Alta

Dusk, Las Esmeraldas

And here’s the full set on flickr.

Valentina Canseco & Daniel Carvalho – Medellin al sol y al agua

June 28, 2012

Valentina Canseco is a French artist who draws. (What’s the word for that? drawer? illustrator? draughtswoman?). Anyway, she has a great show up currently in Medellin called Medellin al sol y al agua done in collaboration with Colombian urbanist Daniel Carvalho.  Canseco is showing a number of prints based on simple line-ink drawings of houses and simple street scenes in different neighborhoods around the city, covering all social classes and “stratuses” as they say here. She’s drawn to simple but idiosyncratic details of modern vernacular architecture and details of the cityscape. These are things that interest me greatly for my photography, so it’s really interesting to see how the artist evokes these elements with ink and pen.

Valentina Canseco at Centro Columbo Americano in Medellin

Valentina Canseco at Centro Columbo Americano in Medellin

Valentina Canseco at Centro Columbo Americano in Medellin

Valentina Canseco at Centro Columbo Americano in Medellin

The show is currently at the Centro Columbo Americano in downtown Medellin. They’ve also put together a great group on facebook, where they post news and invite users to submit photos of their neighborhoods. They’ve even got coffee mugs.

Luis Carlos Tovar – Silla Rimax

June 20, 2012

I’m in Colombia now,  Medellin to be exact. I figured I should blog about Colombian artists, although truth be told, I discovered Luis Carlos Tovar’s work while I was still in Lima in March.  Tovar’s series Silla Rimax deals with those cheap, ubiquitous white plastic chairs that infest the entire world. His approach is very clever. He gently presses their forms in wet sand on the beach and then photographs the impressions. It almost looks like they excavated a new room at Pompeii and discovered that the Romans too used these cheap plastic chairs.

Luis Carlos Tovar – Silla Rimax

Luis Carlos Tovar – Silla Rimax

These photos are from the French website Photoquai, which looks interesting. They do periodic features on photographers from around the world. The name Silla Rimax, refers to the company in Colombia which makes most of these chairs.

Milena Bonilla – Transitory Map

January 3, 2012

The last post on Bruno Dubner reminded me of work I saw by Colombian artist Milena Bonilla. I first discovered her work about a year ago when, upon arriving in Bogotá, I googled “contemporary columbian photography” and found her name on a list of people exhibited at a show in England a few years ago.

Milena Bonilla - Transitory Map

I liked this work called Transitory Map and she describes it thus on her site:

The project consists in to take randomly several buses in Bogotá city and to sew the holes that appeared on the damaged seats. (seats are made of foam and synthetic leather or fabric). The size of the hole defines the time used to travel along the city sewing the damaged seat. After finishing the tour, the path taken is transferred to a map, using as a convention the same thread color as the one used to sew the seat. During the whole project twenty five tours were made from which there are sixteen documented.

I’m really taken with the simple beauty of the photos; their color scheme and soft lighting. The gesture, too, is symbolic of healing and alludes to the country’s violent past (and present).

Milena Bonilla - Transitory Map

Milena Bonilla - Transitory Map

2011 in Review

December 27, 2011

I spent a lot of 2011 traveling, being a bit of a vagabond in different places.

During January, February and half of March I was in Colombia. I discovered fantastic artists and took a ton of pictures, none of which have been properly scanned. The negatives have been sitting with a friend in New York since late March. Eventually, I’ll get to them.

3 guys in Bosa, Bogotá, February 2011

After Colombia, I went to the Peruvian Amazonian city of Iquitos. I spent just over a month there photographing people and places. I’m pretty happy with the work I did so far there and, in fact, I’m planning on going back there in just a few weeks. I’ve been sitting on the photos because I’m not sure what direction the work will ultimately take. Here’s a few pictures that I’ve uploaded to flickr so far:

Iquitos, Peru

Iquitos, Peru

Diego in Iquitos, Peru

I returned to Buenos Aires in late May, mostly to finish my Ochava Solstice project. I was a lot more methodical this year (see post), and set myself a goal of 50 street corners for the whole series.

Preparing to photograph a corner for my Ochava Solstice project

In the end I think I got about 60-something corners, which I then edited down to 49. I even published a little dummy book on blurb, which is really cool to have and to hold.

Ochava Solstice dummy book

Meanwhile I continued to work on another series, Riverbank | Barranca, which I started in 2010 and published on my site this year. It was just featured on the blog, New Landscape Photography.

Riverbank | Barranca

I also continued to add slowly to my collection of Chalets and Contrafrente views.

Since last year I’ve been thinking about pursuing an MFA. While the classes and workshops I have been doing in Argentina have been great, I’ve been feeling that I’d be well-served by spending a couple of years of intense study in North America. To that end, I was just on a six week road trip in the US visiting schools. I covered 8000 miles in just under a month, driving from LA to Boston and back again. I’d like to say it was epic but traveling in the US is kinda easy. There were days when I woke up at dawn and drove for 12 or 13 hours straight, subsisting on junk food, podcasts and 5-hour energy drinks. Those days were my favorites.

West Texas

I’m super-excited about 2012; the travels that I have coming up and the mystery about where I will end-up come August.

Colombia 2011, very rough scans

March 25, 2011

I was in Colombia for all of January, February and the first half of March. There’s no lab anywhere in the country that will process large format film. I had to take it all with me to New York. Thankfully none of it was damaged by the x-ray scanners at the airport. Here are a few pictures from my time there:

Cellphone minute vendors in main square of Villavicencio

This was the first time I’ve ever done street portraits of strangers with my 8×10 camera. Asking strangers for photos with such a large and strange-looking camera is not hard at all. I found the hard part to be dealing with all the attention the camera drew. That, and trying to figure out how to direct people in the photo once they said yes. I ended up taking a lot of pictures of people standing exactly in the middle of the frame, looking at the lens. Not that it’s a bad look, necessarily.

Osiris in Bosa, Bogota

Often people just came up to me and asked to have their picture taken. I only had 3 film holders which meant I could only take 6 photos in any given outing. I had to say no a lot. In the photo below, this man came up to me and said he was the oldest gay in the square and that I should take his picture. I couldn’t say no to that. It was my last photo too.

The oldest gay in the square, Villavicencio

Taking pictures of strangers on the street without a clear idea of why or what for is a great way to burn through a lot of film and money, especially with an 8×10 camera where each picture costs about $20 [don’t blink!].

With my 4×5 camera I went to a lot of different neighborhoods and surrounding cities and mostly took of pictures of houses and small buildings. Bogota and its surrounding cities have a very interesting aesthetic. I think it has something to do with being at 8,000 feet in elevation and having it never be too hot or too cold. Let’s call it Goldilocks architecture. It’s all the stuff you can build if you never need central heat or air.

Abandoned House in Tunja

While I was out shooting, residents in the neighborhoods usually thought I was a city employee, assessing property values or something. People would come up to me and complain about potholes or broken lamp posts.

"Mini" Skyscraper in Puente Aranda, Bogota

Just being out and about I’d come across some interesting situations which I just had to photograph.

Golf "criollo" in La Calera

You’re probably wondering why these scans are so atrocious. They’re not actually scans. Contact sheets are really expensive in the US, so everything was just process only. All I had time for was to take a quick snapshot of the negative sitting on the light table at the lab with a digital point and shoot, which I then inverted in Photoshop. I wish I had access to a color dark room and/or a good scanner. Alas, I’m headed back to South America and I’ll be leaving these negatives with a friend here in New York for safekeeping. Someday I’ll have to do right by these pictures.

Juan Fernando Herrán – Campo Santo

March 11, 2011

Juan Fernando Herrán is a sculptor who occasionally does projects involving photography. Campo Santo is a body of work documenting an area of simple crosses. The crosses are hidden in a patch of forest and are made with simple materials found on site. They are made as a remembrance of area residents killed in Colombia’s violence. Making a cross out of two sticks is a very simple but also very powerful sculptural gesture.

Juan Fernando Herrán - Campo Santo

Juan Fernando Herrán - Campo Santo

Maria Isabel Rueda – Reves

March 6, 2011

Right when I first got to Colombia, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to write about on this blog. Googling the term “Colombia Contemporary Photography” turned up this exhibit in the UK from which I then discovered the work of artist, illustrator and photographer Maria Isabel Rueda.

© Maria Isabel Rueda

© Maria Isabel Rueda

© Maria Isabel Rueda

These portraits are all titled ‘Reves’ although there is no additional text to the series. Rueda has other portrait series which are more straightforward in their categorization of their subjects; goths, beach goers, tourists covered in mud [it’s a Colombia thing]. I liked these portraits the best however. I’d recommend taking a tour through Rueda’s flickr stream as it contains a rich and varied sample of her many projects.

Karen Biswell – Portraits

March 3, 2011

While visiting the gallery Valenzuela Klenner, I liked a few photographs by Karen Biswell.  Later, looking at her site, I really, really liked her portraits.

© Karen Biswell

© Karen Biswell

© Karen Biswell

I’m sorry to have missed her earlier show at the gallery, A Tres Bandas, which shows the house of her grandfather, once Colombia’s champion billiards player, along with archival photographs of the master at work:

© Karen Biswell - A Tres Bandas

© Karen Biswell - A Tres Bandas