(C) 2012 by Metta Anderson for images and text – All Rights Reserved
Great news! I hung up some new photos, and some haven’t been on display in quite a while. I’m really happy to be able to show them and hope the visitors will find them interesting, too.
I can safely say these are now historic documents. For example, one is a photo I printed of a negative taken in 1990 from the 13th floor of the Residencias Tequendama (north tower). It shows Avenida Caracas when it was an aging but still beautiful boulevard, lined with mansions and other architectural prizes as well as big leafy trees. Nowadays, TransMilenio has eliminated most of the trees, but most of the architecture remains–sometimes hidden behind a wall or a tasteless billboard–and it’s easy to see what city planners had in mind in the 1940s. The viewer can also see how clear the air was (or could be) in the late afternoon, because of the details on the mountains in the distance to the right. Note also that the Cerros de Suba remain gentle hills, and not supports for the newly-rich.
Also from 1990 is a night shot taken in the plaza between the north and south towers of the Residencias Tequendama, downtown. It was raining, too, but the general architecture was what caught my attention. It shows the influences of Bauhaus and van der Rohe and also a little of le Courbousier, and the darkness reduces everything to form, regardless of function. Best of all are the reflections in the windows,
turning the wall into a gigantic gallery reminiscent of Edward Hopper. I haven’t printed this shot in several years, but it remains a favorite.
In 1993 I worked for a local English language weekly newspaper called “The Colombian Post.” I wrote the art criticism and spent a year roaming the city with a camera. I was trying to be a photo-journalist, rather than what I am–a photographic artist who writes. I didn’t win any prizes for my work, but I developed a substantial archive of Bogotá, as it was in 1993. Out of that archive I’ve pulled six shots taken at the Robert Capa exhibition held in June 1993 at the Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango and a couple of other random shots, one taken at El Corral on Carrera 9 with Calle 71, which had a very pretty outside dining area, so popular it was usually difficult to get a table. Not bad for a fast food restaurant.
The Capa exhibit was extraordinary for many reasons. One was the fame of the photographer, of course. Another–personally–was seeing one of Capa’s first photos, Vladimir Lenin himself haranguing a crowd. The print is faithful to its source, and shows all the weird things that can happen to a negative before it becomes IMPORTANT. There is a piece of cellofane tape, clearly-defined finger prints, scratches and marks that could have come from all kinds of things, as well as Lenin’s discernible face. Another reason was the crowd that the exhibition attracted, as can be seen in my photos. And finally, the fact that, while security was strict, I could even take the pictures! I asked permission from the Biblioteca and the head of security himself, Señor Maldonado, accompanied me for two hours while I circled the area and discreetly shot away with a simple Pentax and ISO 400 film (Ilford HP5, later developed and printed by the Ilford lab in Bogotá).
Other shots from 1993 that are on display are from the Metropol pastry shop–the big display case (all polished wood, with glass) and a waitress.
It probably helped that I’m a foreigner, because foreigners have the reputation of carrying cameras and aiming them at things Colombians find too mundane or banal or distasteful for words. The only place where I have ever been told I can not take pictures was at one Crepes and Waffles on Carrera 9 with Calle 74. I understand their policy–they do not want their products either used by or for someone else or their recipes stolen–so I never take pictures in any of their restaurants. Kind of a shame, because they are very photogenic.
Anyway, now I have some new images that show a city at the beginning of a transition that is on-going, but seemed not to be happening. In 1990 and 1993, not even the idea of TransMilenio was under discussion, still less the other changes that have taken place since then. I am very glad I had the opportunity to preserve these moments, and am equally glad I can share them through this exhibition at the gallery. For those who would like to have one of these historic documents, please stop by on Saturday or Sunday, and look at the work. What were you doing in 1990?