BOZAR: Exhibition “Latin American Cartographies”, with press preview on 18th of May at 11 am

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Artists, culture platforms and activists from Latin America unify and develop new views towards current societal matters that emerge in many major cities such as violence, learning, memory, resilience and mobility. Which crucial role may artists play to influence their urban environment? How can art stimulate social cohesion?

Latin American Cartographies is like a visual laboratory: through video footages, images, installations, sound artworks….the visitor discovers this vibrant continent.

Exhibition: 19.05 – 06.08.2017
Press preview: Thursday 18th of May at 11 am

More than ever before, the future belongs to cities. In 2016, 54.5% of the world’s population lived in towns, 1.7 billion of them in cities with a population of over a million. The culture of the future will be incubated in cities.Artists help to imagine and thus shape urban societies. The avant-garde of society happens in the megalopolis. There, citizens grapple with the great global challenges: migration, ecology, digitisation, new forms of cross-border violence.

Latin America has encountered a rapid and disorderly urban growth that leads to widespread social inequality, violence, environmental destruction and a lack of engagement on the part of citizens towards their cities. The impact of visionary Latin American artists who connect their art making to pressing social, cultural and economic issues plays a vital role in contemporary art from Latin America. These artists are using their practices to work directly within the social fabric, creating connections, networks and relations. Art and activism are merging in the constructive processes of building up communities and common futures in the concrete jungles of segregated urban spaces and realities.

Latin American Cartographies is set up as a dialogue between artists and urban activists across Latin America who are at the forefront of a movement generating new perspectives and actions. Five cities are linked to a theme that is a vital concern in each city in question. Latin American Cartographies. Art, Social Cohesion & Urban Landscapes already gives a sneak preview of the future, with a variety of urban ideas: on the theme ofmobility in Curitiba (Brazil), memory in Puebla (Mexico), violence in San Salvador (El Salvador), resiliencein Medellin (Colombia) and learning in Lima (Peru). The exhibition looks more like a lab than a white box in a museum. In a variety of media, the space is opened up to imagination, experiment, confrontation, participation and reflection.

The exhibition presents processes rather than objects, and large multimedia installations that encapsulate artists, thinkers and collectives’ different visions and strategies. An example of such an artistic strategy is a work by The Fire Theory, a Salvadorian collective that organised a football game as a symbol of reconciliation betweenformer army members and guerrillas. Metodo Salgari from Mexico proposes an exploration of the unknown history of the Belgian architect Agustín Goovaerts, who designed some of the important modern urban architectural buildings in Medellin. Peruvian activists display the city as a non-formal learning space. From Colombia, activists and artists place the subject of the air at the heart of resilient cities using the bicycle as a symbol of transformation. The creation of a new urban territory addressing waste and water managementissues is the main topic of a series of interventions by the Brazilian studio Bijari. The installation by Federico Martínez Montoya and Fernando Escobar integrates aspects of political practices exploiting the urban spaces of Puebla and Medellín. The project honours the memory of cities and their collective memory. The Colombian artist Oscar Leone carries a heart deep into the Amazonian jungle. For Leone and for many artists in this exhibition the physical landscapes are the theatre where humans formulate and act out their perceptions, tensions and adaptations throughout life. These diverse approaches function as a form of resistance that utilizes the arts and culture in order to defend democratic and multicultural values.

Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, commented: “This exhibition is based on an exciting pilot project funded by the EU to explore the ways culture can be a vector for economic development and social inclusion.  It illustrates the rich creative partnership between Latin American and European artists to focus on urban challenges and provokes reflexion and dialogue. In an interconnected world these local expressions become global, representing the diversity of our societies and the need to build a better society for all.”

The exhibition is part of the EU project ‘LAIC – Culture and Arts Supporting Social Cohesion in Latin American Cities’, developed by Interarts and BOZAR and funded by DG DEVCO of the European Commission. It draws inspiration from and further explores research ideas that originally developed during the LAIC Urban Lab in Medellin, Colombia and a subsequent conference in Brussels in 2016.


Curator: Antonio José Guzman
Scientific Committee: Paul Dujardin, Mercedes Giovinazzo, Toni Cots (LAIC Project Coordinator), Sophie Lauwers en Conrado Uribe (LAIC expert)
Organisation : BOZAR, Interarts
Support : European Commission
Collaboration : Recyclart Fabrik, Zinneke, Atelier GF Workstation