When London-born Columbian artist Carolina Caycedo begins a brand new undertaking, she embarks on a course of she describes as “non secular fieldwork.” She hopes to distance her work from her from the sector of ethnographic analysis, during which the researcher intentionally situates themselves as a impartial outsider. As a substitute, Caycedo combines her structured system of scientific analysis and interviews with a extra private and immersive follow of forging connections with individuals and locations on a non secular degree. Because the title of her new solo exhibition at BALTIC suggests, ties of friendship and empathy are key to the artist’s methods of working along with her.
A lot of the work in land of pals (which constitutes Caycedo’s first European survey exhibition) is drawn from the artist’s long-term undertaking “Be Dammed (Represa/Repression)” (2012–ongoing). This main multifaceted assortment of labor examines the sociocultural and environmental impacts of constructing dams on rivers and campaigns for the rights of each watershed-dwelling peoples and rivers to self-determination.
This undertaking is a part of an ongoing try and unlearn the colonial gaze and provide other ways of seeing, representing, and referring to peoples and locations. She argues that visible artists can usually change into complicit within the discount of complicated ecosystems to “landscapes” in a purely pictorial sense, conforming unquestioningly to European artwork historic codecs that create distance between human viewer and nonhuman topic. As a substitute, Caycedo needs to put human beings and human actions inside the programs she research.
A number of the most putting works within the exhibition come from the “Water Portraits” collection (2016–ongoing), during which Caycedo digitally stitches collectively a number of photos of a river and its environment. The ensuing “portrait” is printed on a protracted steady ream of translucent cloth and suspended above the viewer’s eye degree. The works play with expectations relating to portrait and panorama, when it comes to orientation, format, and material, eliminating the substitute distance between particular person and place. In these fluid, dramatic photos, the artist makes an attempt to each acknowledge and have fun the personhood and company of rivers.
An identical strategy of steady printing might be discovered within the accordion-fold publication “Serpent River Guide” (2019). Laid out on a sinuously formed desk within the exhibition as a sculptural object, the work may operate as a standard guide. The piece might be reproduced at scale, which Caycedo sees as a means of providing one thing again to the communities with which she works. In addition to being a automobile for presenting the artist’s analysis and findings, “Serpent River Guide” additionally features as a software for workshops and performances, which may happen with or with out the artist’s involvement.
Various the works within the present check with a Colombian river named the Magdalena (in Spanish) or the Yuma (by native Indigenous individuals). Caycedo lived close to this river for a time, and was prompted to start out making work in regards to the destiny of the watercourse and the individuals who depend on it when the authorities initiated a undertaking to dam the river. Many residents felt that the session course of put in place by the dam-builders was inadequate and denied massive numbers of native individuals both a voice or an opportunity for compensation.
“YUMA, or the Land of Pals” (2014) is a large collage of satellite tv for pc photos charting the constructing of the dam and the methods during which it has modified the native ecosystem, topography, and vegetation. In the meantime, the video “Spaniards named her Magdalena, however natives name her Yuma” (2013) convincingly suggests parallels between public order administration programs and water administration programs (corresponding to dams and weirs). The split-screen movie brings to life the choreographies of management designed to manage the actions of human our bodies and our bodies of water. Narrated by the artist in each English and Spanish, the voice-over makes use of whispering to disrupt the notion of an authoritarian narrative voice.
The video contains pictures of Caycedo’s buddy, a member of the native Indigenous group, throwing a conventional fishing internet into the water, demonstrating the embodied, conventional types of data tied up within the threatened ecosystems and geologies of the river. Caycedo emphasizes how extractivist economies take intangible issues, such because the data saved within the our bodies of colonized peoples, in addition to uncooked supplies. Within the face of destruction, for the Yuma/Magdalena river’s conventional fisher individuals, on a regular basis actions change into gestures of resistance.
This theme of resistance is vital to the second half of the present, during which Caycedo expands on her ongoing curiosity within the cultural supplies of protest, corresponding to flags and banners. The exhibition contains her 2019 work “My Female Lineage of Environmental Wrestle-Enlargement 1,” a banner that includes a collection of portraits of girls environmental leaders and activists. Like most banners, it’s suspended on a collection of poles which might make it inconceivable for one particular person to current it on their very own, pointing to the collective creativity and engagement of protests and resistance actions.
Caycedo’s work sits between two banners borrowed from the Ladies’s Banner Group, which brings collectively and celebrates ladies’s organizations in North East England. Each banners have been produced for the Durham Miners’ Gala, an annual march historically organized by coal miners’ commerce unions, celebrating native individuals and industries. Ladies solely started to take part within the Gala in 2018; These banners, designed for that occasion, spotlight the achievements of girls working collectively within the native space.
This hyperlink to the locality is essential to Caycedo who, along with curator Irene Aristizábal, was eager to search out hyperlinks between her work on distant South American rivers and the experiences of BALTIC’s visiting audiences. To this finish, she has produced a brand new large-scale drawing titled “Tyne Catchment” (2022). Executed within the accessible medium of coloured pencil, the drawing speaks on to the ecology, myths, and tradition of the River Tyne, which flows proper exterior BALTIC’s partitions and connects many communities within the North East of England. The piece successfully anchors the exhibition within the native panorama and prompts audiences to contemplate the environmental and sociocultural implications of a river many may take with no consideration.
Carolina Caycedo: Land of Pals continues at BALTIC (Newcastle, UK) by means of January 29, 2023. The exhibition is curated by Irene Aristizábal.