“Have you also learned the secrete of the river; that there is no such thing as time." - Herman Hesse, Siddhartha
Adriana Ciudad’s intervention presented at Galería El Museo, uses as reference the hippos brought by Pablo Escobar in the eighties. Once the drug dealer was killed, the animals escaped from Hacienda Nápoles, getting lost in the Colombian jungle and multiplying by the riverbanks. Today, these hoofed mammals have found a home in the wilderness near the streams and creeks.
These hippos that were brought from Africa – displaced from their home and taken to other lands – become a metaphor for those sent into the jungle during the armed conflict in Colombia, forced to turn this hostile environment into their shelter. They seem to be invisible in the eyes of contemporary society, which will not see beyond the watery surface. Some claim that having these animals lost at the Magdalena River is dangerous and that they cause deaths among peasants and multiply rapidly; others defend them against those times attempts have been made to kill them with bullets. There are even some who say that these mammals are killed for their meat.
In a way, these baby hippos that take over the space of the gallery could be metaphor of child combatants in Colombia, of what nature means to them. A priori it appears as an eerie place for its beauty, its smells and its sounds – recreated in the exhibition space – but which, beyond its utopian and exotic conception, becomes a witness, a prison for crimes instead. For these children the forest represents a cage, a place of violence, uprooting and pain. Debajo del Agua first throws us into an aesthetic experience through the sounds of the jungle, colors and shapes of the intervention that take on different layers when you go through the piece. So, we will slowly walk toward an awakening in which we note the artist’s strong criticism of a dramatic social and environmental reality.
Through her intervention in Galería El Museo, the Peruvian-German artist takes on an ecological vision of the hippos’ situation in Colombia that appear to be hidden in the river with time standing still, while this temporary paralysis gives them a new identity every day. Similarly, she analyzes the imagination of these children through its formalization and conceptualization, emphasizing the power of color and the potential of drawing that go beyond their limits. Her poetic language makes it possible to merge relevant social issues with a surrounding aesthetic that does not go unnoticed.