Friday, December 19, 2014

The Mystery of the Sinister Sculptures Solved

I've long wondered about the history of these spooky, haunting sculptures along Carrera 3 behind the Jorge Tadeo University. There's no plaque or other clue about their history.

My mystery was solved recently by a September 1988 edition of MagazinEl Espectador's old Sunday supplement, which I bought from a sidewalk vendor off of Carrera Septima near Las Nieves church. It turns out that the specters are the work of Cuban-American sculptor Galaor Carbonell (born Havana, 1938; died Miami, 1992) during the mid-1980s.

Sadly, Magazin critic Juan Manuel Roca thoroughly pans the statues. "Few times has our view been so attacked, has the scenery been so depraved," he writes. Roca goes on to call the sculptures rigid and inert and without imagination.

"What the devil were they thinking...?" when they placed the statues here, Roca asks, adding: "it's an aggression against public space, against the spectators' eyes."

Carbonell's death only four years later might well have been accelerated by this attack.

Whatever the value of Roca's opinions, the sculptures have survived (except for one, which is missing) and become a point of reference in the neighborhood. Nobody seems to mind them, or perhaps even to notice them.

I like Carbonell's works, even if they don't beautify this particular corner. But they move one to stop and reflect a bit upon unworldly visitors to this unexceptional corner of Bogotá.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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