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Latin America

Nohemí Pérez
Apuntes para panorama Catatumbo

A rich and isolated region, El Catatumbo is located near the border with Venezuela. Different groups fight over its gold and oil, while narcotic plantations have exploited the region over the years, provoking massacres, displacement, and migrations amongst its native populations. Nohemí Pérez’s skillful and eloquent watercolors, titled Apuntes para panorama Catatumbo, testifies to this aspect of Colombia’s history that has been veiled by other equally pressing political issues. For an extended period of time, Pérez has collected diverse visual documents, such as press images and school books that are at the core of the imagery for these works, and operate as an active register of the convoluted history of her native region. These watercolor on paper works stand as sketches for Panorama Catatumbo, a series of large-scale carbon drawings on canvas that reference 19th-century panoramas. By creating an environment, the series evidences the colonial take behind a spectacular and exotic vision of the so-called New World, at the heart of which Pérez camouflages contemporary scenes of war and violence.

Nohemí Pérez speaks about her pictorial practice as being born out of the necessity of preserving a landscape that has been affected by war. Coming from a region that was deeply touched by the Colombian armed conflict (El Catatumbo) her work engages with the inscription of violence in bodies and nature. Be it that she catalogs endangered tree species, or that she portrays the ravaged Colombian territory to preserve it in a mnemonic act, the complex relationship between human ambition and nature’s depletion rises to the surface of Pérez’s drawings and paintings with a rare strength and sensitivity.