A Journey of Migrations by Ana Bravo Pérez (born in Colombia, based in Amsterdam) presents the immersive installation Experiments with Coca Leaves (2019) in which she combines ceramics and film to reflect on a dark side of her homeland. Colombia has ranked either first or second in the number of displaced people for decades, with oil and mining industry taking up a central position in this drama. Visualizing the traumatic reality of Colombia is among the key concerns in the oeuvre of Bravo Pérez.
Experiments with Coca Leaves touches upon an underlying aspect of the country’s current situation; its history of (colonial) exploitation of natural resources, including that of the sacred plant coca. Two films show changing constellations of coca leaves, both projected on porcelain screens with either an engraved text or physical imprints of coca leaves. They are accompanied with one sole ceramic piece that, reminiscent of a clay tablet, depicts a graph indication the amount of forced displacements in Colombia between 2004 and 2018.
The work relates the history of exploitation of natural resources and its associated problems today – among which forced migration – indirectly, therefore addressing the ability of the spectator to interpret her work carefully. Coca, and more so cocaine, is probably Colombia’s biggest cliché. By abstracting the obvious however, paradoxically by coming closer, Bravo Pérez engages the plant in such a way that our attention increases. Seen through a microscopic lens the leaves have lost their typical characteristics completely. They rather evoke the idea of the universe, hinting perhaps on the comprehensive consequences of the plant in Colombian society.
Comparable to the artistic practices of artists such as Doris Salcedo, Mona Hatoum and Fiona Tan, all artists she admires, the work of Bravo Pérez is informed by (forced) migration, the trauma of exile, memory and the postcolonial condition.
Having a background in experimental filmmaking she explores these fields in a highly innovative way to, in the words of the artist; “unveil the unseen and to give words to the unspoken”.
A Journey of Migrations is Bravo Pérez’ first solo exhibition. It coincides with the ending of her residency at both Wow and the European Ceramic Workcentre (Ekwc). Recently her work has been shown in group shows at Worm, Rotterdam (2019); Filmhuis Cavia, Amsterdam (2019); Engauge Experimental Film Festival, Seattle (2019); Museum Willet-Holthuysen, Amsterdam (2018); Eye Film Museum, Amsterdam (2018); and at Intermediaciones. Video art and Experimental Video Festival, Medellin (2018). Bravo Pérez holds a Master in Film from the Netherlands Film Academy. Since 2016 she is based in Amsterdam.