Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Life for the Old Odeon Theatre

The slightly art deco Odeon building, on Jimenez Ave. 
In another sign of central Bogotá's rebirth, the old Odeon Theatre on Jimenez Ave. is alive once again.

Inside, exposed girders. 
The Odeon, on the south side of Jimenez a block east of Seventh Ave., opened 71 years ago, when it was one of the city's principals theatres, along with the venerable Colon and the Faenza theatres, both of which are being restored to their original glories.

The building's spiral stairwell. 
A cracked wall with a photo of a decaying wall. 
The Odeon, in contrast, has been restored to life without a physical restoration. The building's interior girders are still exposed, its walls have cracks, doors and walls are missing and it all looks sparse and bare-bones. But for art expositions, all of that contributes atmosphere, producing an informal space for are shows and forums. It recently held a contemporary art exhibition. The building's spiral staircase, however, adds an element of elegance.

....and rounded, almost Arabic, windows. 
Less than a decade after the theatre opened in 1940 the building was severely damaged during the Bogotazo riots triggered by the assassination of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan. The theatre closed and the building experienced various transformations into other theatres, most famously the Popular Theatre of Bogotá, the TPB, which shut in 1996. For the next 15 years the building sat vacant, filling with vegetation and rainwater.

The Odeon's latest encarnation has come thanks to a group of Los Andes University students, who created, and others, who created the Odeon Theatre Foundation.

The view of Jimenez Ave. from the Odeon. The curved building on the right used to house the El Espectador newspaper, where Gabriel Garcia Marquez once worked. 
A short tour of the 69/71 exhibition, which ended today, guided by my dog Parchita.

Parchita checks out this box structure containing electrical objects. 

Parchita studies a sack containing plastic guns. 

Parchita on the stairwell. 

A couple talked via cups attached together with a taut string.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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