marcos avila forero

In response to my invitation by New Folder, I decided to present, for the first time, images and videos that document the context in which originate a certain number of my works. These documents are not part of the final pieces and have never yet been exhibited. Four of my recent works are presented, they each have in common the fact that they exist as a description of the context which created their meaning of being.
The golden raft
Ephemeral Sculpture – Materials: Corn plants, bamboo structure.
Harvest of the corn plants used for the construction of the golden raft

La Balsa Dorada (The golden raft)

« This is the story of a great confusion. When the Spanish arrived in the region, they listened to the stories of the Muisca. The elders spoke of a sacred place where the Zipa, from a raft, made offerings of Gold (El Dorado) … The Spaniards searched for what they had understood to be real gold. But infact the gold was only a reference to the colour of the corn offerings. »
Edilberto Mendoza.

This raft was built from the braiding of corn plants grown in a cultivated field using Muiscas methods. It is a replica of the Golden Raft (Gold Museum in Bogotá.), a piece of Muisca jewelry made between the VII and X century which refers to El Dorado, a legend that has travelled throughout the centuries and fed the minds of many men up until today, leading to many massacres but has also lead to extraordinary literary, musical and film productions… This work breaks the myth and plunges us into the economic reality of a culture whose main treasure was corn.
A Tarapoto, un manati
Video installation : HD Projection and CRT. 18 mins.
Extract from the video installation « A Tarapoto, un manati ».
Testimonies of people from the Cocama and Ticuna communities, who motivated the project « A Tarapoto, un manati ».

A Tarapoto, un manati

This work outlines an action that took place in Puerto Nariño, a region of Amazonas suspended at the border between Columbia, Peru and Brazil. This project was carried out among Cocamas. Several families of this community told me the myths of the manatee, a sacred animal that has virtually disappeared from the rivers. I worked from these stories in order to “reactivate” them in a social context that seems to have forgotton them. Using memories that an old sculptor had of this animal, we sculpted its shape in wood. Then I asked a young sabedor, an insider from the magic rituals, to travel on the back of the sculpture along the river to Lake Tarapoto, where he left it to drift, guided by the currents.
In San Vicente, a training
2010 – Action during several days and installation, variable dimensions. Materials: wood, dictaphone.

In the Columbian forest, during guerrilla trainings, fighters sculpt the silhouette of a gun in wood with a machete. For several months they will train with these objects imitating the sounds of bullets with their voices.

On one wall hangs a dictaphone, it plays the sounds of one of these trainings. We hear the guerrillas shouting BAM BAM! TRATATATA! And also their commander ordering them: “QUEMEN! “(In English” FIRE! “But more accurately” BURN! “). I execute his command and burn the tips of several rifles that I sculpted using the same methods as the combatants. Then, on the wall where hangs the dictaphone, I seize the guns as real ones, and draw, with the burnt tip, what I can remember of the forest where the training was recorded. This work attempts to create a bridge between two very different contexts, the very act of representing is the central tool in both cases.
The village of VALPARAISO – Photographic Documentation

Valparaiso is a community of about twenty wooden houses, scattered in the mountains of the Santander forest. There is no road, it is accessible only on foot or horseback. Farmers grow coca leaf, banana and cocoa products among others. This place, where I spent part of my childhood, is at the origin and powers several of my works more or less directly or indirectly (eg “The Sucursal Del Paraiso”, “In San Vicente, A Training “). As time passes, I build a fantasmic idea of the existence that continues to advance there, and in parallel (or indifferently) to me.
La Sucursal del Paraiso
2010 – Vidéo, 5 mn

« There it is called « The Branch of Paradise », « Because it’s the most beautiful place on earth, but also because it is there that one is closest to death. »

We see the back of an empty truck. Violent shakes give us hints of a dirt road, a shadow moves inside the truck, they are the only indications of an off-screen. There is a scrolling text at the bottom of the image, it’s a letter. The author tells the story of his village. We learn that he is unable to return because of a conflict.

This video situates us in a space, suspended between two places. The letter gives no information of the whereabouts of the author, we guess that he is not in the region he describes. However the image leads us to believe that the truck is heading for, or leaving the zone, without knowing if it is empty or if the author of the letter is inside. One can just as well imagine that he manages to return or that he never does.

“I am like the one who always carries a stone from his house in his pocket so as to show the world what his home is like.” Bertolt Brecht.

Today, objects and ideas, as do people, travel constantly and rapidly. How do we conceive each social reality, how do perceptions, people and things, in travelling, become transformed in this constant flow?

All of my works begin as an encounter, with a place, a context, a person, a document, a story… and it is from this that the work takes off.

I have a great interest for testimonies, documents, official and unofficial storys, objects or materials that have kept a certain interpretation… All of these elements become the tools which I use to construct each of my pieces. The human being is the main character.


Columbian artist residing in France. Graduated with honours in 2010 from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 2011 participated in the collective exhibition curated by Jean de Loisy, Le Vent d’Après, in which was attributed the Prix Multimédia Des Fondations des Beaux-Arts (multimedia prize) for « A Tarapoto, Un Manati » and « A San-Vicente, Un entrainement ». Invited to Columbia in 2012 by the French Embassy and the Museum of Modern Art in Medellin for his personal show « De Pasaje ».

To see more works of Marcos Avila Forero :