NoW HIrING STAFF - Los Franco Tiradores / Versus


NoW HIrING STAFF - Los Franco Tiradores / Versus
Beyond the ‘divide’
Two collectives in Bogotá look to bridge the
artistic divide between
North and South. Inspired by European
courtesy: versus
movements they bring
artists together and
break stereotypes of a
divided city.
ooking through the pages of
Lonely Planet, a traveller in Bogotá would be forgiven for thinking that the city ends at Plaza Bolívar.
The guide book, which is assigned biblical status by many tourists, meticulously
lists places of cultural interest in Central Bogotá all the way to Usaquén in
the North. Multiple theatres, galleries,
libraries and museums are listed and
Bogotá is presented as the cultural rich
city it is. However, there is a glaringly
obvious and ultimately revealing omission – not even a footnote is given over
to the invisible and seemingly doomed
cultural abyss of the South. The book
reflects a common experience for millions of northerners in Colombia’s capital, where crossing the boundary past
Plaza Simon Bolívar is like stepping into
a shadow city.
This “divide” has been the catalyst for two simultaneous art projects
– Proyecto Versus and Proyecto Nómada. Versus/Nómada’s intention is
to intervene in the cartographical violence which has come to define the city
as well as, the movement of the people
who live and work here, to provide some
sort of cultural connection between
two very distinct areas in a segregated
urban space.
Versus is the brainchild of Los
Franco Tiradores, an inter-disciplinary
collective born in 2010 that brings together the thoughts of an anonymous
Colombian, an MA candidate in Political Science and a visual artist/designer
from France. Versus is a continuation
of a project started in Montreal when
the Franco Tiradores were only 2 people. Today, with 20 other artists they
are bringing their ‘revolutionary’ interventions to Bogotá. At a later date,
the Bogotá and Montreal projects will
be compared to see North-South differences. Los Franco Tiradores explain
that “Proyecto Versus is a theoretical
and artistic reflection on cartography
as a system of signs and images that
precede spatial, cultural and historiographic realities.”
Whereas Versus is an interdisci-
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may 2011
plinary venture focused on cartography, Nómada is about architecture. It
is about temporary occupation of forgotten urban spaces, and transforming
them into places where people can interact. Nómada’s organizer, a Romanian
architecture student, explains that it is a
way for architects to face the forced displacement and the huge social segregation seen in Colombia and other Latin
American cities.
During April, Versus/Nómada organised a series of workshops with the
artists, in which the aims of the project and specific topics where discussed.
It was decided that the city should be
mapped and split into 20 distinct areas
and locations were chosen for exhibitions. Support for Versus/Nómada
comes from four cultural houses scattered across the city. El Eje Centro
Cultural, La Kcitta Audiovisual, Casa
Entre Comillas and 15-16 are all collectives promoting accessible and alternative art in the city and include activities
like cinema clubs, workshops, performance theatre, visual art and graffiti.
Much of the activities of these cultural houses find their precedent in the
larger ‘squatter’ movement in Europe,
particularly in France, Germany and
These European examples bear the
hallmarks of the Versus/Nómada project – politically motivated, socially inclusive, experimental and alternative.
Versus/Nómada are planning a series
of pop-up galleries in which the artists
will invade a space and use it to create a
live gallery. Interactions with the people
in the area at the time as well as, the use
of on site materials is essential, as the
project aims to show that spaces which
are so familiar to us are malleable and
transient. The occupation of disused
buildings across the city is also a political
indictment of the wasted space which is
an insult to the huge number of homeless and displaced scattered across the
city. Versus/Nómada aims to foster creative belonging and encourage a denial
of a homogeneous experience of city life
in Bogotá.
Though this may sound purely theoretical, the impact of the project becomes apparent when you talk to the
people involved. Nómada’s organizer
speaks of one woman, a victim of rural
displacement, who has lived in Bogotá
for 4 years and who up until that point
had never crossed Plaza Bolívar. And
anyone who has lived in Bogotá for any
amount of time knows all too well she
is not an isolated case. Many of the artists from the North have no experience
or connection to the South and imagine
the city in hugely different terms to their
southern counterparts.
This dual movement of artistic and
social inclusion is what gives the projects their power and the visual interventions work to challenge any kind of
homogeneous experience of the city, to
stimulate thought about what the space
around us means.
This is art at its most raw and basic,
but also it’s most exciting. It is instant
and urgent and politically motivated.
The importance of the ideological and
political meaning ascribed to place,
space and spatial relations is all too easily ignored as we go about our daily routines and Versus/Nómada pulls us out
of this sleepy stance.
The interventions will be held in
May and June. For more information
on the events:

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