The Colombian artist Marcos Ávila Forero (b. 1983, Paris) lives and works in Colombia and France. He was trained at the Paris École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts under the aegis of Giuseppe Penone. A young artist fast garnering international attention, Marcos Ávila Forero participated in Viva Arte Viva!, the main exhibition of the 2017 Venice Biennale, with a video piece called Atrato (2015), which is also included in the show at Pori Art Museum. This solo exhibition is his first appearance in Finland in the Nordic countries.
Marcos Ávila Forero typically works in challenging terrains such as rural Colombia. The key element in his art is research that he conducts working in the manner of an ethnographer living in communities, bringing to light experiences that remain beyond the reach of conventional communication. He emphasises his role as an activist fighting for social issues he considers important, not just as an artist but as someone who uses art as one medium among others.
The exhibition presents key works from Marcos Ávila Forero’s output focussing on how the lives of the country’s population are impacted by both Colombia’s drug wars and the FARC guerrillas. He also examines the process of disarming the guerrillas, which was carried to its conclusion in June 2017, and their attempts to return to normal lives. The civil war in Colombia, which has lasted 60 years, involved not only the FARC but also other guerrilla groups, the army and paramilitary groups. It is estimated that more than 220,000 people died in the conflict, and millions of Colombians have had to leave their homes. The truce with FARC has not marked an end to violence in the country, however, and the vicious circle of violence has even escalated. The history of the country also contains periods of colonial rule and slavery, the effects of which are felt even in the present culturally rich Colombia. International trade, the flow of people and goods, legal and illegal commodities and money, and the struggle for their control continue to be reflected in the political landscape and social conditions of the country.
Yet, Marcos Ávila Forero’s poetic and beautiful works convey a sense of a deeply human and empathic interaction with the people who contributed to the creation of the works. The artist has an ability for finding individuals’ and communities’ life force that turn eyes toward the future. Forero’s methods are markedly diverse, including collaboration with different kinds of artisans as well. The show in Pori features photographs, videos and objects, and the whole is accompanied with field notes and sketches. For the show in Pori, the artist will create an on-site work, a large 13 x 2.5 m charcoal drawing entitled A San Vicente, Un entraînement (2010/2018), which will feature audio recording. The drawing is based on the time the artist observed guerrillas training in the forest. On the tape, we can hear how the guerrillas, armed with guns carved from wood, train for the fight by imitating the sound of gunfire while the commander shouts orders. The production of the piece is also exceptional in that Forero will use charred barrels of the wooden guns as his drawing medium. He will also create another piece, an installation entitled Estibas (2010/2018), using transport pallets as stencils to draw a mosaic on the floor with the very sawdust produced while carving out patterns on the pallets. The production of the demanding works requires that the artist spend about two weeks in Pori, thereby giving the audience and the media a rare opportunity to follow the creation of the work.
A publication documenting the show at Pori Art Museum will be produced in collaboration with the ADN Galeria from Barcelona. The publication will be printed in Finnish, English and Spanish. In cooperation with ADN Galeria, thank you Fondation d’entreprise Hermès and Dohyang Lee.