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The Museum of Modern Art of Bogotá (MAMBO) presents Nada que cesa [It hasn't ceased yet], the largest and most comprehensive exhibition to date dedicated to Fernando Arias (* 1963 Armenia, Colombia), internationally recognized for the innovative and provocative qualities of his artistic practice, and his subversive work about the body, gender and sexuality.
Radical, nonconformist, polemical and transgressive, Arias shapes his work around the socio-political history of Colombia, highlighting issues such as nation-building, power relations, politics, violence, the armed conflict, and the repressive dynamics that religious and political institutions impose on human beings.
The title of the exhibition comes as a reflection on one of the emblematic phrases of the Colombian National Anthem: “The horrible night ceased!”. This line was paraphrased by the former President Juan Manuel Santos in his address during the signing of the Peace Accords with the FARC, in 2016: "Colombians... The horrible night has ceased, the horrible night of violence that has covered us with its shadow for more than half a century has ceased!" But that night doesn't cease, according to Arias. "The horrible night hasn't ceased because after the Peace Agreements, the murders of social leaders, the violence and the illegal mining have increased; former FARC combatants have taken up arms again due to lack of compliance with the agreements; thousands of people are protesting because of their discontent with the current government," says Arias.
Counter for The Killings of Social Leaders, 2019
Since the Peace Accords in 2016, the killing of social leaders has not ceased but increased. The digits on Arias' work show the number killed at the time of its realization in 2019.
Involved in the development of social and cultural projects, Arias is one of the founders (along with Jonathan Colin) of Más arte, más acción, a non-profit organization working since 2011 to consolidate a platform of interdisciplinary artistic projects, often including processes and communities of the Pacific Coast of Chocó.
The MAMBO presents a journey into the depths of Arias' research by revisiting works that have been extracted from his memory to tell a story of non-conformity. The exhibition reviews more than 30 years of artistic production, presenting revisited projects and works that have never been exhibited before, as well as works made especially for the show in various media, such as photography, sculpture, video and installation. The constellation on display is directly related to social and environmental issues, themes that reach universal resonance. In a crude and often literal way, the exhibition addresses issues that usually are not talked about, that are not on the political agenda, that are not solved and that society has forgotten, or that are silenced because they disturb certain groups. The artist investigates the Colombian reality to reveal the various layers that make it up and becomes the vehicle for expressing the messages of excluded and marginalized communities.
In order to open up to new audiences, the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá offers an innovative educational program that seeks to deepen the works of Arias and the topics at stake. It invites the public to dialogues, panels, meetings and activations so that everyone has the opportunity to raise his/her voice, dialogue about the artist's works, listen, discuss, question, discover what others think and analyze where common points can be found.
Fernando Arias' show is connected to the main theme of this year's exhibition program of the MAMBO, aimed at exploring art as a mechanism - public, social, cultural and political - for transformation and change.