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  • About the Artist:José Alejandro Restrepo

Born in 1959, José Alejandro Restrepo's primary work is in video-performance and video installations. The Colombian artist has greatly influenced a younger generation of artists, contributing for decades to critical dialogue on documentary. Internationally renowned, he lives and works in Bogotá. Having studied medicine early on, this background continues to be revealed in his work and his understanding of the task of critical art—for Restrepo, a dissection of reality and diagnosis of contradictions that affect the present era. Two examples of his exhibits make this evident: Iconomía (2001, discussed in this issue by Juan Sebastián Ospina), and an exhibit organized with the historian Jaime Borja in 2010, titled Habeas corpus: que tengas (un) cuerpo (para exponer). The latter also reflects his ongoing engagement with religious representations, focused on the baroque and colonial past, and how such a past may allow for critical ways to engage representation and comprehension of violence throughout Colombian history.


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Restrepo's work converses globally, preoccupied always with finding paths for art to become a diagnostic tool for denunciation, interruption, and subversion of the mechanisms power employs to substitute history with its own myths. For Restrepo, using video combines the materiality of an image with a temporality that seeks to inscribe, through suspense and anachronic possibilities, the usual manner of representing the past and present chronologically, causally, and teleologically.

The past thus resonates in his work through an insistence on remembering and re-inscribing in discourse what would otherwise be reduced to the dead and violence, making them mere contingent accidents of history. This is illustrated in the article in this issue by María del Rosario Acosta, which describes voices quieted by the sound of bullets registering and televised in Restrepo's exhibits El caballero de la fe y Variaciones sobre el purgatorio (2011), as well as cadavers returning and accosting the present with their resistance to decomposition (or being silenced, forgotten) by history in a more recent exhibit, Cadáveres indisciplinados (first installation in 2018). In his own words, Restrepo states, "I want to break the historical continuum and explore an eternal present, where everything is here and now, and totally interconnected."

Restrepo's work has been exhibited internationally; he participated in the 52nd Venice Bienniale (2007); the Bienniale de Mercosul, Porto Alegre (2011); the Lyon Bienniale (2011); and at the Museum Quai Branly (2013); and the shows Contingent Beauty: Contemporary Art from Latin America, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2015); Religión catódica, Fundación OSDE, Buenos Aires, (2017); and Pacific Estándard Time LA/LA, Laxart Los Angeles (2017).

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José Alejandro Restrepo (colombiano, nacido en 1959), artista cuyo trabajo se ha concentrado principalmente en video-performance y video instalaciones, trabaja y vive actualmente en Bogotá. Su obra ha tenido una gran influencia en una nueva generación de artistas en Colombia y le ha valido un reconocimiento internacional.

Antes de dedicarse al arte, Restrepo cursó estudios de medicina en la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, estudios reflejados en su obra y el modo como el artista entiende la tarea del arte como crítica de disección de la realidad y de diagnóstico de las contradicciones que afectan al presente. Dos ejemplos donde se hace evidente: Iconomía (2001, comentada aquí por Juan Sebastián Ospina), y la exposición organizada junto con el historiador Jaime Borja en 2010, Habeas corpus: que tengas (un) cuerpo (para exponer), [End Page 121] donde también se refleja de manera clara la relación de Restrepo con las representaciones religiosas, particularmente barrocas y herencia del pasado colonial, y los modos como esta herencia se refleja en la manera como la violencia se representa y comprende a sí misma a lo largo de la historia de Colombia.

La obra de Restrepo dialoga con una gramática global, preocupada siempre por encontrar los modos como el arte puede convertirse en herramienta de diagnóstico y denuncia, de interrupción y de subversión, de los mecanismos mediante los cuales el poder busca substituir la historia con sus propios mitos. Para él la utilización del video combina la...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2471-1039
Print ISSN
1090-4972
Pages
pp. 121-122
Launched on MUSE
2019-09-12
Open Access
No
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