Cristina Velásquez
2017 Annual Juried Competition 
Honorable Mention

Statement:
Art is the means by which I can break through the gates of history to perceive my culture in a different way. I would like to undertake this task, particularly today, when the demand to reflect on the present, as we gaze at the possibility of a different future, also requires that we revise the customary narrative thread.

Through photography, paper weavings, audio, and signage, I investigate representation and translation in the context of transcultural relationships. Using my own experience as a Colombian artist and my transition into the US as a point of reference, I am interested in the way cultural identity is constructed, defining shared notions of value, such as, race, beauty and class. My work attends to the ways in which these notions are shaped and governed by images and language. I am interested in the way one culture translates another, and how inevitably, a dominant culture sanitizes and reduces the other in a subtle (and not so subtle) continuity of vicious power dynamics. In particular, my work considers how the Colombian history and national identity have been constructed against a backdrop of colonialism and patriarchy.

My work originates from a mixture of love, disobedience, chronic nostalgia, and hope. But, in the strictest sense its impetus comes most powerfully from my identity as a Colombian woman. Starting from observations of the human experience and life in my country, I reinterpret reality, using elements of fiction and artifice to animate underlying power structures, confound assumptions and question conventions. I enjoy making work that is rooted in our history, while at the same time, imagining a better world.

My work is oriented towards the search of an authentic and critical idea of who we are, that is independent from the economic and political agendas geared towards the promotion and imitation of foreign models and imported aesthetics. I believe it is time we look back to our roots and become aware of who we are on our own term. It is time to question ourselves and raise our tools to build our own ideas of value. Only then, we will be able to imagine beyond the violence that characterized our past and create a different, dignified future. I feel the urgency to contribute in some way, to the construction of a new Latin-American imagery that overturns stereotypes, reductive translations, and traditional conventions.

Understanding the importance of sharing and contributing into a global conversation, my work allows the lines that separate us from one another to be porous and complex. It is based on the natural impulses of empathy. One side of my work looks inwards, to our individualities and to the richness of our culture —in the spirit of sharing, of giving. The second part of my work opens up to the world and honor the coincidences of our human experience —in the spirit of learning, of unity.

Bio:
Cristina Velásquez (b. 1985 – Colombia) is a visual artist working mainly with photography. She holds a BA in Industrial Design from Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia), and an MFA with a focus in Advanced Photographic Studies from Bard College and The International Center of Photography (New York, U.S.) where she was awarded the ICP Director’s Scholarship. Cristina has been part of several solo and group exhibitions in New York and Bogotá, and participated in the School of Visual Arts Photo Residency, 2014. Her publications “montañera”, “Rear Door”, “/100” and “One way of letting go” are part of the permanent collection of the ICP Library.

Artist’s website: www.cristinavelasquez.com