Commissioned by curator Maria-Belen Saez de Ibarra of the Art Museum at the National University of Colombia (UNAL) in Bogota, my field research in the summer 2018 took me to the South of Colombia. At the invitation of the leader of the indigenous Inga people who guided me for several weeks through these panamazonic post-conflict territories, I am now involved in the co-creation of their most ambitious project, an indigenous University. The project aims to create an institution for higher learning and knowledge production toward life-sustaining ecological cohabitation in the Amazonian region. Read more here.

I began my mandate by forging a range of partnerships with Universities in Colombia and abroad, in particular the ETH Zurich, McGill University Montreal, and Javeriana University in Bogota. Now that these partners are fully committed, we can start conceptualizing and producing designs and audiovisual materials that help giving form to this indigenous vision for producing, practicing and transmitting knowledge. We do this in the indigenous way, by walking through the territory and conversing about the things we see and the meaning they make. We hold workshops across the territory, involving more and more community members who share their vision and contribute their experience in educating in a bilingual setting.

There are also a series of audiovisual projects and a major online platform emerging from these collective processes. These are designed in response to actual needs of the Inga people and the University project. And I'm currently working on a new video art piece that strongly resonnates with forms of knowing and relating to the vegetal world. I use new commissions extended to me by the artworld to produce new threads in the process of Devenir Universidad.

The Inga community is widely dispersed and disconnected due to the colonial history, missionary impositions on education, the armed conflict and the presence of cocaleros. Knowledge transmission to the next generation was interrupted for the last 30 years. There is an urgent need to gather the ancestral and ecological knowledge before it is lost. Commissioned by the Istanbul Biennial, in January 2021 we started Vocal Cognitive Territory, a series of video interviews with the elders and knowledge bearers. A special edit from this material will be exhibited in Istanbul this year. All of the videos will go into the University living archive for research and education.

Devenir Universidad is also a substantial online platform assembling all audiovisual productions, architecture designs, cartographies and texts that are produced in this amazing process of a territory becoming University. 

Studio Anne Lacaton at ETH Zurich D-ARCH held a 2-semester studio on A New Indigenous University in the Rainforest in Colombia and together with the students produced a beautiful book that is our foundation for further architectural research. We are invited to show this work at the Vienna Biennial at MAC in May 2021.


Artistic Process Devenir Universidad

I see my role as artist in this project in

-  forging of sustainable partnerships among the international academic community; 

-  closely collaborating with the Inga Education Team and a fabulous group of academics to advance the conceptualization of a territorially based education system;

-  mediating the architecture Team with the pedagogic team to coordinate these two parallel forms of building the University by holding shared field workshops in the territory;

-  accompanying the entire process by creating artistic formats that envision, articulate, mediate and communicate the project so as to bring forth its materialization;

-  creating a video archive on the knowledge of the Inga elders, shamans, women healers, governors and community leaders to gather and rearticulate the dispersed knowledge and provide materials for educating the young generation;

-  generating public awareness and interest in the project to attract financial support and strengthen international partnerships.

-  building the substantial online platform Devenir Universidad to mediate the process of an Amazonic territory becoming University.


Upcoming exhibitions

“Planet Love” Vienna Biennial at MAC, May 2021
“The Poetic Heritage” at Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong
Istanbul Biennial, September 2022
Art Museum at UNAL in Bogota, September 2022