June 3, 2023 -
July 14, 2023
La Balsa Arte Bogotá
Tombuctú- Diego Piñeros
Panorámica de sala. Tombuctú- perra vida, La Balsa Arte Bogotá

A few weeks ago, Cosmos, the German shepherd who has accompanied Diego and his family for a year, got sick. Every morning for a week, I received a medical report on the dog's condition, surgery, and recovery. Diego has the rare virtue of maintaining calm, kindness and good humor at all times; I had never heard him this anxious before. He was really worried about his partner.

A dog alone was no better than a dead dog. This is how Paul Auster describes dog-human interdependence in Timbuktu, the novel that gives this exhibition its title and which recounts —from the canine perspective of Mister Bones— the attempt of his dying owner, Willy, to leave his pet in good hands before his death. It is a story of endearing and mutual affection in which the reader delves into the psyche and emotions of the dog. And, therefore, it is a story that problematizes the anthropocentric vision that considers animals minor beings, since it raises a common aesthetic sensibility between humans and dogs: and if, as all philosophers had observed in this regard, art was a human activity that relied on the senses to reach the soul, wasn't it also logical that dogs—at least dogs of the caliber of Mr. Bones—had the capacity to feel a similar aesthetic impulse?

The dog-owner affection of Auster's novel and the fine attention with which Diego has devoted himself to portraying canine subjects raise questions about where the boundaries between culture and nature, subject and object, creation and imitation are drawn, because in these portrayals, dogs are not mere muse. Both works resonate with the research that Vinciane Despret presents in What would animals say if we asked the right questions? (2012), where she takes seriously the communicative and artistic capacities of animals, stating that "beasts and men work together," since both are cultural beings.

The canine images gathered in Timbuktu- Dog’s life, arose in the last year and a half. They anticipated and accompanied the arrival of Cosmos in Diego's life, a time that brought changes in intimate-affective dynamics as well as social and political changes, including the strange transition to the post-pandemic that we are still experiencing. But, this series marks, in a certain sense, a waning of the pessimism and irony that prevailed in Diego's previous works. Here, we see a stray dog that became Chile's First Canine, rescue dog-heroes, diner-dogs that have fun, faithful dogs that give emotional support to their masters, dogs that do acrobatics; dogs that share together, dressed in elegant suits. And we see Cosmos, obviously... Existence continues to be a dog´s life, but with the almost-tenderness of the "animals for depression" that appear in the other series exposed here.

“Everyone finds themselves in plasticine, jokes and dogs,” Diego commented a few days ago, just before giving an animal modeling workshop in El Charquito, Soacha. He explained why he considers plasticine a political material, since —like dogs— it also touches fibers, awakens memories, affections and dialogues, summoning people to meet. And, no matter how fleeting and playful its conventional use may be, as a material and a medium, plasticine does not allow itself to be defeated so easily. A derivative of petroleum that has existed since 1880 now leaves canine images and ironic memes for posterity, bequeathing them to the turbulent stratigraphy of our contemporary visual culture.

Ultimately, "pointillism in plasticine" shakes up the cultural cartographies that hierarchize the places occupied in art by the ephemeral and the lasting, the serious and the frivolous. He extracts from the scroll on the cell phone screen, photographs, popular paintings and memes to transfer them to another temporality —that of the meticulous fingers that patiently form tiny plasticine balls, mixing their colors with impressive precision. And, in the minute it takes to make each ball, it's as if a pixel expanded in time and space to take on a three-dimensional shape. Then, crushed by Diego on a wooden support, each malleable sphere is imprinted with his fingerprint. And there, he comes to stay.

Lisa Blackmore. Bogotá, 2023.

Selected images

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I am interested in reflecting on the relationship between man and technology, the erroneous idea of progress and the construction of concepts of nation, always questioning institutional history from a poetic vision. Having a great influence from cinematography, science fiction, history and music. I studied Art at Universidad de Los Andes. My artistic production covers various media between video, painting, collective processes and installation. Since 2013 I have been part of the CALDERÓN & PIÑEROS collective together with the artist Elkin Calderón Guevara developing audiovisual projects...

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Labalsaarte | 2023

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