Like a hinge that history has held together by pain, This land is (a) mine proposes the idea of ​​territory in two dimensions. On one hand as a natural landscape and, on the other, as a land subdued by the human condition. To continue to present solutions to violence and questioning power relationships, Yosman Botero addresses the concept of territory and raises a genealogy that is projected in three moments: as a territory rich in resources, as a colonized territory, and as a territory in conflict.

The word Mine has a double meaning: mine, as a possessive pronoun - mine, extraction of minerals, and, in turn, raises a double visualization: that of the native who perceives the territory as his home, and that of the colonist who conceives it as a pantry of resources. This land is (a) mine is a series of works that addresses colonialism and how the illusion of wealth and power that it provokes is blurred when one looks directly at reality.

Taking up constant elements in his work such as the appropriation of symbols, the rereading of historical events, the focus on the socio-political context, and the use of different materials, the work emerges as a mausoleum that represents the exploited landscape and that, in golden tones that are eclipsed by black, personifies the land that has been razed, referring to its value worn out as a result of the colonialist dynamics to which it has been subjected.

From a more investigative approach, the artist raises problems around the territory rich in resources and reviews different ways in which the landscape has been seen and represented. In this context, the name of José Celestino Mutis -who was a representative of the Spanish Crown during the Conquest period- emerges as a unique and valuable figure thanks to the scientific contributions that he developed in the territory that today corresponds to Colombia from the years 1783 to 1816.

His fascination with the diversity of ecosystems was immediate and led him to lead the Royal Botanical Expedition of the Kingdom of New Granada, which was one of the most important scientific projects in America. The inventory brought together about 20,000 plant species and more than 7,000 animals; Yosman takes it as a reference to understand, from different points of view, the effects of colonization processes and the exploitation of resources.

In this context we refer to the colonized territory, an idea that is not limited to the Colonial period; quite the contrary: it remains in force. Territories rich in natural resources around the world are targets of war; the exploitation to which they have been subjected and the battles that have been unleashed for power over them, have also turned them into scenes of violence. The history of the world is that of the war for resources and power. Through his work, Yosman criticizes the inadequate use of the mining and the unbridled ferocity for the enrichment of the free market.

When referring to colonized territory the Global South stands out on Yosman's work map. One of his main lines of research has been the armed conflict in Colombia and his work has a self-referential component since the artist is recognized in the first instance as Colombian and as originally from Cúcuta, a city that marks the border with Venezuela. This border, one of the most conflictive in Latin America, has been a nerve center of violence in Colombia.

The artist focuses his gaze on a country that refuses to accept its reality and where, after more than fifty years of armed conflict, the wounds remain open. It pays special attention to the post-conflict period, achieved thanks to the peace agreements that, after a long time of negotiation, were signed in 2016 between the Colombian Government and the FARC, the oldest guerrilla in Latin America.

This scenario generated disturbing dilemmas. Since the armed conflict isolated extensive areas rich in resources, which after the signing of the peace accords were liberated, giving rise to greed, not only from illegal groups but also from multinational companies interested in explode and destroy all that the internal war had kept virgin for decades.

In This land is (a) mine the so-called post-conflict is nothing more than a euphemism. It is an illusion with which a reality that is still in force has been hidden and that daily generates more violent scenarios.


Natalia Castillo Verdugo

Directora AMA+