Purple Magazine
— S/S 2017 issue 27

Bogotá Tropism


I was in China recently. After traveling 5,000 kilometers in just a week by train and bus and taxi, I had a vision. I saw us locked in a triangle made by three chopsticks, all of them black — the first made from steel (the US), the second from wood (Europe), the third from plastic (China).

The US used to be the new North; Europe, a great mix of North and South; and China, a “Far East.” But now, everything is turning to the Total North.

There are a few safe places left. Outside the Total North, the Muslim world, is expanding in all directions, copying the worst of the West, suffocating the best of the East. Still, there is a land where we can escape from the Total North’s veracity, but also take some time to study how to deal with all that. The country is Colombia, and it has a little of everything: Atlantic/Pacific/Amazonas/ Páramos, even a micro-Tibet called Sierra Nevada — the indigenous people who live up there are luckily not celebrated.

Colombia is just minutes away from Miami. These days, the country is coming out of the somewhat protective tunnel of isolation. They call this process “Paz” (“peace”). Colombian people are, to say the least, skeptical about it, although everyone wants the war to end. Who are the actors of this “peace”? Juan Manuel Santos, a Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, the 32nd and current President of Colombia and sole recipient of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. A president with an eternal smile attached to his face (his face was burned in an accident when he was a kid and reconstructed with genius, just to accommodate that smile).

Then there are various second-class Che Guevaras. The top one goes by the name of Timochenko; the others are Iván Márquez, Pablo Catatumbo, and Pastor Alape. They are the FARC, a “revolutionary army” that supports itself by selling drugs. Far from all that, from what happens in Colombia and even in Cuba, a new generation that includes youngsters such as Felipe Steiner and Antonio Echavarria are taking their time in the “cool” cities of the Total North. Sooner or later, they will return to their country to take control of Colombia’s democracy… This is not the place to talk about the “other,” more relevant Colombians, the indigenous people. Still, here’s at least a few names of the 66 tribes that still exist: Arhuaco, Awá, Bara, Barasana, Cocama, Chiricoa, Guambiano, Guane, Inga, Kankuamo, Kogui, Kuiba, Makuna, Ocaína, Piratapuyo, Puinave, Sikuani, Tanimuka, Tikuna, Tucano, Uitoto, Wayuú, Wiwa, and Yukuna.

Now, let’s zoom into the center of Colombia and to its capital, an area that used to be a paradise called Bacatá (in the language of the famously extraordinary Chibcha people, who used to live there until the European barbarians arrived and exterminated them). The name of the area, victim of the same idiotic violence, has become Bogotá. “Aquí no hay gallos, no hay nada” (“Here, there are no roosters, there’s nothing”), complains Gabriel García Márquez, using as his avatar Simón Bolívar, Bogotá’s most famous user. Bolívar used this city as a base from which to go all around South America on his horse and try to change its operating system. There’s less than nothing in Bogotá today. There’s Contemporary Art, of course.

In the Bogotá art world, I’ll name-drop just one guy, Miguel Ángel Rojas, and a group called Taller 4 Rojo. From our days, I want you to know three names: Matilde Guerrero, Juan Sebastian Pelaez, and Sebastian Fierro Castro. Fierro Castro is Painting, Pelaez is Post- Internet, Guerrero is the future of this country in every sense. The best way to see Fierro Castro is to visit the booth of Colombia’s most happening gallery, Instituto de Visión, in an art fair near you (this gallery really goes to all of them). The best way to see the work of Pelaez is to check him out on Instagram under the impressive tag #juansebastianpelaez. The best way to see Matilde Guerrero’s work is to come to Bogotá and meet her. If this little text gives you the urge to know more about Bogotá, read the books of Santiago Gamboa; start with his first book, Perder Es Cuestión de Método [Losing Is a Question of Method]. If you can’t read it in Spanish, what a pity; you are still stuck in other languages…

I don’t know if any of this advice is useful or inspiring to you. I am offering it because I consider Bogotá a capital of the South, not the old South but our new Middle South, the MedioSud (www.mediosud.us). It’s very possible that in the next few years, it will simply become just another city of the Total North (Bogotá’s mayor, the infamous Enrique Peñalosa, is actually working hard in that direction), but maybe it will not. What will happen to Bogotá and to the world in that case (other than not having the next documenta happening there and, at the same time, in Kassel)? What will happen to people like Guerrero/Pelaez/Fierro Castro/Gamboa/myself and my daughter, Alpha? This is the question, and we have absolutely no ready-made answer. Keep watching…

[Table of contents]

S/S 2017 issue 27

Table of contents

purple NEWS







purple BEAUTY

purple LOVE

purple SEX

purple TRAVEL

purple NIGHT


purple STORY


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