Samplings (1990) is an early video piece which Lozano describes as an “anti-identity audio-visual graffiti proclamation.” The work offers a series of eight extremely short provocations. Its use of text and videographics has a look characteristic of its era, though many of its themes are still relevant today. The text is the product of a sloganeer, but one who engages with poetry, philosophy and personal narrative. For instance, one section simply proclaims “la raza will always be/reclaiming “la identidad.” In another, love transforms into appropriation while fetishization turns into racism. A sample of some of the issues and politics in which the artist is engaged.
Conchitas (2009), made in collaboration with Alexandra Gelis, presents itself as a diptych. One screen sees Gelis sunbathing while the screen is being partially covered in gummy bears. The second screen shows a landscape partially covered in seashells. One video is shot by Lozano in Canada, the other by Gelis in Panama. The gummy bears are wet and slimy and slide across each as they are being stacked. The seashells are hard and comedirectly from the land. The real is juxtaposed with the artificial, the natural landscape with its seashells and the beach with its gummy bears. Conchita is a diminutive for concha which means seashell and is a diminutive for Concepción, which refers to the Immaculate Conception, but is also a region of the Chiriquí Province in Panama.
The two worlds are held together with a text that scrolls quickly across the screen. The text “en una conversación no planificada” is from an unplanned conversation between two women, Christina Lomban and Elizabeth Perez, who hunt for seashells and casually discuss their fears including drowning and river snakes, an asthma epidemic in Chiriquí and their family dynamics. One woman states, “The seashells look beautiful when you string them together” to which the other responds, “Yes, I string them together.” Their simple exchange articulates one of the functions of artworks that is too often forgotten, namely, the social function of art making.
IDLE / Encendido
In IDLE / Encendido (2009) two men arrive on a motorbike, and it remains idling as they disembark and walk quickly across the street. Once they cross, they pull out guns and start firing at a man walking with his friends. Given that the camera was on before the “action” begins, the filming, like the murder, is premeditated. The video is shown as a diptych with one screen capturing the murder at a distance, while the other presents the same footage zoomed in to reveal subtle gestures like the guns being pulled and the reaction by the victim’s friend. The video starts in black-and-white and transforms into colour once the “action” begins, further revealing the premeditated nature of the recording. All of the images look like they were shot on a security cam, but the camera does not offer protection, it can only bear witness.
The scene is very familiar to anyone who watches Hollywood gangster movies. The choreographed nature of the footage further blurs the boundary between fiction and documentary.
In Colombia these images circulate like short Hollywood films as reality becomes spectacle. French theorist Guy Debord argues that “the spectacle is not a collection of images; rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images.” This video is a demonstration of Debord’s thesis while providing an example of its real world consequences.