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Conjuro de la locura (Spell of Madness)

An exhibition by Carolina Caycedo

July - September 2017

Conjuro de la locura (Spell of Madness) borrows its title from a spell by the same name conjured by Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, sociologist of Aymara descendance. This spell suggests that the Capitalist and Neoliberal system in which we live is an insane system- which functions to favor a very small and privileged minority, and in turn negatively affects a great majority. At the same time, it is a model that threatens all humanity, given that it is the result of an unsustainable exploitation of common goods that has generated global warming, and a series of negative factors which advance the end of biocultural diversity. Additionally, the spell implies that the only way out of our disastrous predicament is to generate another type of madness, another equally insane system that can produce adequate conditions to live in unison with ourselves and the rest of the world that surrounds us. 

For her exhibition in NuMu, her first museum solo-show, Carolina Caycedo covers part of the museum’s interior with a material that at first hand appears to be a polished marble surface. However, closer observation reveals a collage composed by a series of satellite images of Guatemala’s territories that have been severely devastated by initiatives of exploitation of our common goods. The work reveals a series of socio-environmental problems that expose the extractive economy imposed on Guatemala by private interest of great capitals (International Funds, Transnational Corporations, and local/international private initiatives) and which are reflected in three large nodes: single crop farming or green deserts, large scale mining, and hydroelectric generation. 


In Conjuro de la locura, Caycedo seeks to generate a portal to unite two separate and apparently dissimilar worlds: the artistic and the one of social resistance, through processes of territorial resistance. Moreover, the exhibition looks to open up a debate about the current mining-energetic model examining three specific cases of three Guatemalan ecosystems under dispute: the ecocide of Río La Pasión, the Chixoy Dam, and the Marlin Gold Mine. Masked as projects to advance progress and development of the neighbouring populations -of indigenous majority in the departments of Quiché, Alta and Baja Verapaz, San Marcos, and others- which include violent and systematic environmental depredation, and the massacres, raping, and displacement of indigenous communities. 


Conjuro de la locura is part of a more extensive body of work that Caycedo has been developing since 2014, titled BE DAMMED, which investigates the effects that large dams have on natural and social landscapes of many bioregions located in the american continent. To date, Caycedo has collaborated with communities in resistance in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and now Guatemala. 

Carolina Caycedo (1978, lives in Los Angeles) was born in London to Colombian parents. She transcends institutional spaces to work in the social realm, where she participates in movements of territorial resistance, solidarity economies, and housing as a human right. Carolina’s artistic practice has a collective dimension to it in which performances, drawings, photographs and videos are not just an end result, but rather part of the artist’s process of research and acting. Through work that investigates relationships of movement, assimilation and resistance, representation and control, she addresses contexts, groups and communities that are affected by developmental projects, like the constructions of dams, the privatization of water, and its consequences on riverside communities.

She has developed publicly engaged projects in Bogota, Quezon City, Toronto, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Lisbon, San Juan, New York, San Francisco, Paris, Mexico DF, Tijuana, and London. Her work has been exhibited worldwide with solo shows at Vienna Secession, Intermediae-Matadero Madrid, Agnes B Gallery Paris, Alianza Francesa Bogotá, Hordaland Kunstsenter Bergen, 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, and DAAD Gallery in Berlin. She has participated in international biennials including Sao Paulo (2016), Berlin (2014), Paris Triennial (2013), New Museum (2011), Havana (2009), Whitney (2006), Venice (2003) and Istanbul (2001). In 2012, Caycedo was a DAAD Artist-in-Berlin resident. She has received funding from Creative Capital, California Community Foundation, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Harpo Foundation, Art Matters, Colombian Culture Ministry, Arts Council UK, and Prince Claus Fund.

Reference material

Gathered by the artist and presented as part of the exhibition Conjuro de la locura. NuMu, Guatemala.

July - September, 2017.

This exhibition was presented as part of the project 

NuMu Guatemala / NuMu Los Ángeles -realized in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)- and is possible thanks to the support of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC), Southwest Airlines and the Ford Foundation through a grant provided by the NALAC Transnational Cultural Remittances Grant Program.

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