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Magazine

16 January 2014
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Flow. O Juan Obando, Museum Mixtape (Dirty South Edition)

Guillermo Vanegas Flórez


Train in a subordinate artistic field. Attend its social rites. Acclimatise to them. Change country. Look for the same there. Miss it. Realize that there –just like where you lived before-, the infrastructure of contemporary art is vacuous enormous, beautiful buildings , like very expensive cars. Take note that the creative class of the hosting country is obsessed with distinguishing between Highbrow and Lowbrow. Establish that the cultural map of this context is marked by three hubs and a void, the size of a continent. Nothing more. Seriously. You live in a region with a low intellectual sex appeal and where –just like where you lived before – a soft, bilateral racism is seen favourably.

As you came from a country where Hip Hop is a corporate phenomenon, you look into the quantity of people involved working with this music and everything that they do. Concerts, cassettes –yes cassettes-, T-shirts, tracks, videos, car tuning, gadgets and jewellery. You understand that these people see everything with a managerial mentality. Exchange of services = commercial intelligence + giving the audience what it wants. The media confirm the phenomenon. Yet another New capitalist spirit.

But don’ forget that it stems from the visual arts (and that the duo Abramovic/Z doesn’t exist), so you make the link: is a contemporary art museum not the perfect mansion for a Hip-Hop video? You think again and yes: large, white walls, depots that can receive various limousines, no pool but a content that’s (almost) as sterilized and no people. You don’t see it as the glass half-empty, so much as half-full.

Juan Obando is a Columbian architect and designer who lives in North Carolina, teaches at university and is familiar with the cultural context of the region. Based on the latter he decides to study the mutual exclusion that exists between these highly subsidised cultural spaces and other really dynamic cultural organisations. He organises a tour for which he contacts local hoppers the length of the Southeast coast of the United States, so that they’ll sing inside the contemporary art museums about whatever they want. The intention is not to cover up the cultural breach – as in any spot paid for by the Museum’s Board of Directors dominated by white (or laundered) members, where minorities of any colour repeat “visit-the-museums”- so much as to interpret visual content in public.

The first videos seem like the beta version of a longer series of recordings in institutional spaces, where the artist displays a sophisticated Site-Specific philosophy that blends criticism and music in equal measures. Songs more in the tonic of a well informed comedian than a pseudo-political, contemporary artist. Commenting on the iconographic programme of the works, their formal incoherence, their dimensions, the grandiloquence of their frames and the patent pretensions of their authors. An improvisation full of character, rather than an erudite recital. The project will be launched during the first half of 2014. Museums for everyone!

Psychologist and critic located in Bogotá. He also exercises as an independent curator through the self-run trademark Reemplaz0. A full time teacher with a flexible timetable, he habitually writes in the Colombian contemporary art blogs esferapublica and sablazo

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