Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Visit to Miami in Bogotá

'White Only,' in Teusaquillo.
While bicycling thru the quiet Teusaquillo neighborhood the other day, I was struck by this sign on a house near La Esmeralda Park.

A 'White Only' house somewhere in the U.S.
Had the Ku Klux Klan set up a Colombian subsidiary, I wondered? I knocked on the door.

It turned out that the sign and U.S. flag were part of a photo exhibit inside. I found the exhibit (or what remained of it), consisting mostly of pictures of sterotypical suburban U.S. houses, less than impressive. But the house itself, which is an arts collective named 'Miami', is interesting.

Some five artists, as well as a sociological studies firm, rent workshops in the house.

But I found no answer to my big question: Why did the colectivo name itself Miami?

As far as the photo exhibit, by Juan Obando and Guillermo Vanegas, its accompanying information sheet made clear it is a critique of racial prejudice in Colombia. That's a fine sentiment, but not particularly original or interesting, unfortunately.

I was left wondering why this exhibit has a title in English and is about the U.S. Compared to these anemic photos about a whitewashed U.S., an examination of ethnic relations in Colombia would be much more interesting - particularly to Colombians.

Or, how about examining society's obsession with whiteness, which may or may not be tied into racism. Snow white sugar, toilet paper, facial tissues, rice and wheat flour all have big health and-or environmental costs, but represent health and cleanliness.

Or is this yet another example of the-U.S.-as-the-convenient-all-purpose-punching-bag for problems which exist just about everywhere?

I thot that some of the other, random works on the wall, containing sharp social commentaries, were more interesting:

A photo of a paramilitary type beside an altered sign offering cellphone 'minutos.' The paramilitaries bought the votes of many members of Congress, as well as intimidating residents of areas they controlled into voting for paramilitary-backed candidates. 
The work on the left says 'Cheap food for shit people,' and below that 'You either learn to kill or go extinct.'

A workshop in the Colectivo Miami.

The face of the United States.
Ex-Pres. Alvaro Uribe is looking younger, and more indoctrinated, than ever.
The Colectivo Miami is located Carrera 17 No. 36-61, in Teusaquillo. Tel: 812-0295
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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