Ellen de Bruijne PROJECTS | Booth 7SP18
25 February – 1 March 2015
“Mucho Somos”, the title of a poem by Pablo Neruda, is employed by Otto Berchem to propose different interpretations on issues such as representation, Modern Painting and Latin-American Abstract Art. Through a personal investigation on the relation between color and experience, Otto Berchem developed a particular chromatic alphabet that he uses in “Muchos Somos” to set out different strategies demonstrating the tensions between discourse, history and representation. Otto Berchem’s recent body of work deals with his own position of stranger/spectator within an unknown society.
Otto Berchem (Connecticut 1967) lives and works in Amsterdam and Bogota. Recent solo exhibitions include Clip-Clapper at Bis-oficina de proyectos, Cali (2015); Revolver at Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam (2013); Blue Monday at La Central, Bogota (2011). Recent group exhibitions include Stem Terug, De Appel, Amsterdam 2012; Etat de Veille, Jousse Entreprise, Paris 2012; You Are Not Alone, Fundacio Miro, Barcelona, 2011; Out of Storage, Timmerfabriek, Maastricht 2011.
The video “National University” is part of this same logic however using another revolutionary strategy that resembles performance to recreate a known situation: pamphlets falling from the window of an educational center. The Universidad Nacional in Bogota is an emblematic setting for social resistance. Within its campus important political movements have been born and it has been the scene of historic moments in the tragic political life of Colombia. The pamphlets in this case are replaced by sheets of colors that correspond to the letters of the word REVOLVER. This word (gun, stir, or return) conveys the notion of violence in reference to the character of events that took place there and also that of return and convulsion generated by important change of thinking.
The Balaclava has become a symbol of clandestine secrecy, of revolutionary insurgency and the struggle against official power. To cover one’s face is an act of confrontation and a performative position in a specific circumstance. Berchem uses the colors corresponding to the word LIBRE (FREE) to present a political but at the same time poetic slogan.
Through the use of his alphabet, Berchem deconstructs and translates Neruda’s text to his personal code. By this appropriation the political speech is transposed into the esthetic realm in which literary figures become visual strategies/compositions. The result is an assembled mural that recalls classical Op art and Latin American Modern Painting from the XX century.