My first residency ever was a very transformative trip. Upon arriving in Bogotá, I was very uncertain about what to expect. FLORA ars+natura, could not be any better. It is located in a very popular neighbourhood with a new and flourishing art scene. The staff and its other residents, made my three months stay a truly special time. The interesting aspects for me were the cultural interchanges, dialogues of very different topics ranging from art, design, the role of the artist in today’s society and various other subjects, that even though sometimes didn’t relate to my work, enriched my view.
For me, the most interesting part at FLORA is its educational program. They do so much, which include managing an invitation system of artist, curators, critics and art historians. Also through their program, Circulo de la palabra, they invite different indigenous people to share their vision, experiences and cultures. Thus was extremely favourable to me, because I was able to meet and share with the people that I was researching for my investigation at first hand. I felt the classes at FLORA were the most important value of this institution. Not only did I meet a lot of interesting people, at times, I was put in challenging situations that made me more aware and forced me to make greater efforts in my art practice.
Through observations made during my trips from the house to FLORA, I identified the use of “La mochila Wayuu”, an all-cotton bag that is a cultural status for Colombians, produce in La Guajira, but consumed in the most urban areas of Colombia. What interested me about this object was the collective pride of use and ownership by its various users, crossing all age ranges and social status. My interests continued to grow which lead to my travels to the Caribbean regions of Colombia. Arriving first in Baranquilla and from there, travelling to Santa Marta, Palomino, La Guajira and Cartagena de Indias. There, I met with some Wayuu people and planned the production of sculptures with their techniques. I was fascinated with their social system and artisanal traditions. This matriarchal social organisation was very interesting and inspiring. An all-female affair, and in charge of weaving, this meeting impressed me on a personal level and artistically.
I also met a very important artisan from Guacamayas that worked the Fique technique. He was the only artisan I worked with that lived in Bogotá. He hailed from Boyaca region and learn his technique from his parents, but he lived in the city for more than two decades. He was very motivated and together we made a set of “impossible basketry” taking his technique to a sculptural level! This connection was truly a reciprocal exchange of knowledge and passion for our practices.
FLORA ars+natura, its people and its program is rich in information and rich in humanity. Jose Roca and the team do very sincere work that is formal. While the day to day experiences as a resident is very informal and fun. My expectations were beyond fulfilled. Thanks to the Davidoff Art Initiative, I have new friends, a lot of contacts, a new love for Colombians and astounding memories!