QUITO – An unprecedented exhibition in the Ecuadorian capital is making viewers reflect on such concepts as migration, the environment and their memories through the work of artists from different continents, creators of 13 video-art installations.
Called “Journey of a Thousand Miles,” the exhibit debuts this Saturday and will remain open to art lovers until Feb. 2 at the lower galleries of Quito’s Center of Contemporary Art.
The show is the result of a program of commissions and competitions sponsored by the Han Nefkens Foundation with headquarters in Barcelona, and which has organized the exhibition jointly with the Quito art museum to screen the work of artists from South Korea, Georgia, Vietnam, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Kenya and Turkey, plus an artistic trio from Iran and the United States.
“The artists are young and video is a medium that allows reflection on life today, with themes related to ecology and migration, fiction and reality,” said Hilde Teerlinck, curator of the exhibition from the Han Nefkens Foundation.
She was speaking beside a video by the Georgian Vajko Chachkhiani, who in a “very surrealist” way has created a crude visualization of a family meal plagued by arguments and a lack of understanding, where the grandmother ends up shooting everyone at the table.
“It speaks of the violence hidden in the everyday life of everyone,” the curator said.
Another of the video clips is by autodidactic artist Cyrus Kabiru about the bicycle known as “Mamba Negra,” a national emblem of his native Kenya that is now vanishing amid the invasion of new idols.
Among the most noteworthy presentations is that of Ecuador’s Adrian Balseca, winner of the Most Promising Artist of Latin America award of the Han Nefkens Foundation in 2019, and which, under the title of “Suspensions I,” draws a curious correlation between the environmental destruction and daily life in the Amazon jungle.
“The work was filmed in Morona Santiago province in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where I ‘revisit’ a popular game known in Latin America as ‘greasy pole,’” said the creator next to a video of a little girl climbing the trunk of a balsa tree to reach various containers containing a variety of fuels.
Balseca said the project is a criticism of the unbridled extraction and symbolic value of products derived from petroleum, and recalled that in that Amazonian province bordering on Peru, “40 percent of the territory is under concession to mining companies.”
Among the miscellaneous ideas are also themes of migration in the Mediterranean, modernity and the process of neocolonialism, said Eduardo Carrera, chief curator at the Center of Contemporary Art.
Also on show is the installation by Peru’s Maya Watanabe, “an exploration of a common grave in the epoch of the Shining Path guerrilla group, which shows us how some lands are laden with conflictive social and historical memories.