Living maps: a concept that an artist from Los Andes exhibiting in France

Work from the Tropics Number 1 series.
In her work, the artist presents elements, such as victims’ emotions, from the armed conflict.
Due to the essential issues that Colombia is facing during this time of reconstruction and reconciliation, as well as the significance of her proposal, Lina Espinosa was invited to the International Conference: Colombia 2017, Identity, Memory, and Artistic Representation in Construction. This was organized by the universities of Renne and Nantes as part of the France-Colombia year. It was held on November 8th and 9th in the Castle of the Dukes of Brittan, which is a huge medieval fortress that houses the Nantes Museum of History.

The Colombian artist participated with her talk on “How to remember and what to forget: a view towards Colombian post-conflict art” at the Bretagne School of Art in Rennes.

Moreover, in Nantes where the conference was held, she presented a sample that included four works in silkscreen printing with symbolic differences from the map of Colombia and three experimental videos: Living map, Living Map Tolima (2013-2017), and Pure gold (2017). In the latter, she established a link between the ritual meaning of pre-Colombian gold and the contradictions between the exploitation of this metal and the balance of ecosystems; it was created together with the Experimental Vocal Group at Universidad de los Andes.

This exhibition is the prelude to her own exhibition Mapping the Territory, which will be inaugurated on December 5th in L´Espace Cosmopolis: a gallery in Nantes that specializes in contemporary art.

Virginia de la Cruz and Victoria Bazurto curate Mapping the Territory; in this exhibition, the artist presents a particular vision about the mobility and variability of images of the Colombian territory. For this particular exhibition, works were selected from the series Tropics, Living Maps, and Pure Gold (2017) as well as a work that will be created directly in the gallery.

Some of the variations of the maps form the Tropics series that are displayed in the Cero Galería in Bogotá use gold leaf to refer to subjects such as the legend of el Dorado, mining, and the concept of wealth. This is a series in which the idea of transformation plays a very important role in the construction of the map of Colombia.

Between art and academia

Lina Espinosa studied her undergraduate degree in plastic arts at Universidad de los Andes (1983-1987) and later she undertook a Master in Fine Arts (painting) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, United States (1989-1991).

She undertook her postgraduate studies with Fulbright and Icetex (the Colombian Educational Credit Institute) scholarships. When she returned to Bogotá, she taught in Los Andes, and has done so for the majority of her lifetime. This has allowed her to be connected with the vitality of learning and with young people as well as to develop independent work. She was director of the Department of Art (1998 - 2001) and is currently a professor in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Throughout her career that has spanned over three decades, she has had more than one hundred individual and joint exhibitions in different cities throughout Colombia and other countries. She has developed more than twenty creative projects in which she looked to use different expressive methods: she has used traditional methods and she has innovated, for example, in her bio-art works, which includes drawings with bacteria, microscopic photographs, body videos, participatory actions that end up being ephemeral installations, and multiple graphic series that suggest critical cartographies.

“I think that art has the power to show what society does not want to see, to make people aware of situations related to the causes and consequences of the conflict – as forgetting makes us continue repeating the same meaningless story.” These were Lina Espinosa’s words in 2015 in an article for the Sextante journal, belonging to the Faculty of Social Sciences at Universidad de los Andes, in which she reflected on the process of artistic creation and production as ways of creating consciousness and drawing attention to vulnerable situations in our society.

Nominated for the Luis Caballero Prize

In her career, she has been nominated for the Luis Caballero VIII Prize, which recognizes artists who have made outstanding proposals and contributions to Colombian art. Her project Livable Drawing (2015) was comprised by the construction of an aquatic artificial ecosystem and a series of microscopic photographs of drops of water. It was exhibited in FLORA ars+natura, Bogotá and in Plecto Galería, Medellín.

The depth, relevance, and commitment of Lina Espinosa’s artistic proposal, which has promoted the importance of art as knowledge that is deep, has the power to transform, and is honest –and lies outside of commercial models– has awakened the interest of academics, artists, and the general public.



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