Arts Collaboratory

Residency

     

Fernando Arias, Más Arte Más Acción, Chocó, Colombia residency at Kër Thiossane, Dakar, Senegal

Fernando Arias, Gardens of Resistance, video, 11'44”

After a two-month journey through the Brazilian Amazon, Fernando Arias traveled for the first time to Africa—Dakar, Senegal—to realize a project for Kër Thiossane during the Afropixel#4 festival with the theme: Gardens of Resistance.

Fernando linked the two experiences of his travels in a two-screen video projection. The work emerged from an interesting environmental phenomenon that Fernando discovered whilst traveling through the Amazon that links Africa with South America: “About 40 million tons of dust are transported annually from the Sahara to the Amazon basin. Saharan dust has been suggested as the main mineral source that fertilizes the Amazon basin, generating a dependence of the health and productivity of the rainforest on dust supplied by the Sahara.”

Both scientific and poetic, this phenomenon inspired Fernando to create an astonishing and confrontational account of his experience in Dakar. As with his past work, Fernando used subtle and direct metaphors to remind us of our human condition and its collective blindness to certain problems.

In the work we witness a Dantesque vision of the relationship between humans and the planet. We see women franticly watering rubbish with empty buckets, which are eventually buried by the desert dust. But we also see the beauty of nature, the sounds of the forest mixed randomly with religious chants that rise to an intolerable, suffocating and oppressive volume. As in our daily lives, we see madness within civilization and a surreal conclusion, which reflects the contemporary world we inhabit.

After a filming session with girls from the Centre de Promotion et de Réinsertion Sociale in Dakar, Fernando asked them to collect an item of rubbish that they liked. They then drew the items onto pieces of fabric and embroidered them. The film was developed during Fernando’s three-week residency, a collaborative process with the local residents that was then shared at the opening of the festival.

Fernando Arias works between Bogotá, the remote Colombian pacific coast of Chocó, and London, United Kingdom. Through video, photography, installation and actions he explores the human condition. Recurring themes include conflict, sexuality, and religion, along with social and environmental issues. In addition to his personal practice, Fernando involves other artists and professionals on projects through the organization Más Arte Más Acción, which he co-founded. Here, Fernando devises interdisciplinary projects to explore challenging social and environmental issues, often involving people from communities silenced by lack of opportunity. The foundation stimulates cultural exchange and dialogue in order to strengthen contemporary arts practice in Colombia and beyond.