Sebastian Mejia

Sebastian Mejia's (*1980 Cali, Colombia) objects, photographs, videos and installation positions are experimental set-ups. Among other topics, his latest work addresses issues of globalization, arguing that globalization does not open, but closes international creative dialectical channels. Mejia is particularly concerned with the cultural dichotomies between the developing and developed world, and history and presence. In his current project “Equestrian Statues” (work in progress with working title), Mejia foregrounds the symbolic significance of the equestrian statues of leaders in mostly autocratic, imperialist countries – signifying economic, political, religious and cultural domination and in some cases elimination of indigenous populations. His aesthetics of ambiguity and analytic attitude help to build a bridge from the historical realities of colonialism to the contemporary reality of economic imperialism and domination of predominantly capitalist Western countries. At the same time, his sense of humor – folding the equestrian two-dimensional “cut-outs” into compact packages - functions as comic relief and promotes a post-modernist, less confrontational, attitude towards the political reality of Latin America.

Through the works that configure this project, it becomes apparent that Mejia’s work strongly reflects the political reality of our time. The artist is a keen observer of the political and economic realities of post-colonial Colombia and its still growing political and economic identity.   For example, during his last visit to Colombia, Mejia noticed some dramatic changes in the social, political and cultural infrastructure of his home country. While the pace in city and country used to be slow – at least in his memory - almost rural in many respects, he now discovered an acceleration of life, especially of traffic, literally as well as figuratively.   He noticed that a lot of time is spent driving, being trapped in traffic jams and waiting to move on. Mobility matters and like in most developed and developing countries, the make of the driven vehicle matters with respect to the social status and identity of the owner. Mejia became acutely aware of the dichotomy between the country’s colonialist past (represented by the equestrian sculptures he had seen in Europe) and the post-imperialist presence of a capitalist market economy (represented by the automobile). It is significant – although only coincidental - that with the arrival of the automobile around the turn of the last century, the equestrian statue lost its political significance and artistic relevance as urban and political marker. The automobile, as signifier of personal economic prosperity, took its place.

Mejia’s work leaves the viewer with the open question about the future of this trend; unlike some intellectuals and analysts mainly from an older generation, his outlook is not gloomy, but ambiguous.