Geochoreographies: Carolina Caycedo Versus Social and Natural Erasure | KCET
Geochoreographies: Carolina Caycedo Versus Social and Natural Erasure
In partnership with 18th Street Arts Center:18th Street Arts Center is an artists' residency program that provokes public dialogue through contemporary art-making. "When the towns get flooded under El Quimbo, there will be nothing left; only memories, but even they get erased by time, because memories only last while those who remember them are alive." -- Anonymous senator and opposition leader speaking about the development of El Quimbo dam in Colombia.
"Be Dammed" is a research-based project by artist Carolina Caycedo that explores concepts of flow and containment, investigating correlations between the mechanisms of social control and the unethical aspects of public works and infrastructural projects including large water dams and reservoirs. On view at 18th Street Arts Center until December 20th, "Be Dammed" encompasses sculpture, photography, video and a performance series, and reflects the artist's ongoing query into the development of mega-infrastructures over natural and social landscapes. Within this body of work, Caycedo conceptually embeds an analogous, contiguous relationship of tactical constraint and crowd control, as exercised by police and military over group protests and public demonstrations.
Focusing on the case study of El Quimbo, a hydroelectric dam currently under construction along the Magdalena River in Colombia, Caycedo draws attention to physical, economic and societal power structures interrupting the flow of socio-political organizing and resistance efforts through a body of interrelated artworks. El Quimbo is the first hydroelectric power project in Colombia to be constructed by a transnational, private corporation, signifying the transition of this geographically, ecologically and historically important public body of water into a privatized resource. As a principal river connecting the Caribbean coast to the South West of Colombia, the Magdalena River has been significant since the pre-Columbian era as a stronghold of early civilizations, later as a navigation route during the Spanish conquest of the Americas, and in contemporary times as a cultural and economic backbone of the region. Now diverted and channeled for the construction of the dam, its watershed is in the process of geographical and ecological corporatization while local, native communities are forcibly and nefariously displaced.
Artworks in "Be Dammed" examine the interconnected spheres of legal, physical, and psychological social control. As part of her research for the two channel video "Spaniards Named it Magdalena But Natives call her Yuma," for example, Caycedo conducted interviews with a range of individuals affected by and involved with the development of El Quimbo including an activist, an environmentalist, an oppositional leader, a professor, a shaman, a local fisherwoman, and the dam's engineer, to develop an understanding of this complex triad. Other discrete artworks such as the sculpture "Manopla Triple Arco/Three Arched Knuckle" draw parallels between the architecture of dams and the structural forms used for physical domination. Manifesting these relationships in performative-based works, Caycedo continues her collaboration with contemporary dancer Rebeca Hernandez exploring the choreography of power, as exemplified by crowd control techniques, restrictive paramilitary holds, and barrier systems designed to contain civil disobedience. On-site and off-site performances have and continue to place throughout the project including presentations at the California Wash Memorial at Santa Monica Beach.
The following is an exchange between Pilar Tompkins Rivas and Carolina Caycedo about this project. Tompkins Rivas curated Caycedo's project at 18th Street Arts Center, and the two have worked together on five previous exhibitions in venues in Los Angeles, Madrid, Bogota and Cairo since 2009.
Could you briefly explain the current situation surrounding the development of El Quimbo dam along Colombia's Magdalena River and your relationship to this site?
Carolina Caycedo: The Magdalena is Colombia´s principal river. Its headwaters are in the southwest mountains of the country and it flows northwards all the way up to the Caribbean Sea for 949 miles. In its basin, 86 percent of the country's gross domestic product is produced spanning industries such as petrochemical production, coal mining, textiles, construction, and the cultivation of coffee, dairy, sugar, bananas, flowers, cotton and meat. El Quimbo is a hydroelectric dam under construction in a narrow gorge 93 miles downstream from the Magdalena's source. In 2012, the river was diverted to start the construction on this concrete-faced, rock-filled dam that will be 495 feet high, 2073 feet long, and will generate a reservoir spanning 20,386 acres, covering fertile lands as well as secondary forests. Its intended maximum capacity will be 400 megawatts, which is expected to achieve an average energy output of 2,216 gigawatts an hour per year, for local consumption and for international exportation. El Quimbo will be the biggest hydroelectric dam in Colombia, and is the first of its kind constructed by a private transnational corporation, Emgesa-Enel, an Italian-Spanish company with a Colombian subsidiary called Endesa. It is located only 18 miles upstream from another large hydroelectric dam, Betania, which started operation in 1987. Six towns in the local county subdivision of Huila are directly affected by El Quimbo, and approximately 3000 people will be displaced through its construction. Affected residents including small farmers, peasants, students, fisherwomen and fishermen have organized in civil disobedience under the name of Asoquimbo, and maintain a brave resistance against abuses from the company and from the state.
My father's family comes from Tolima, a region adjacent to Huila and also part of the Magdalena basin. During my teenage years I lived in Girardot, a town along the riverbank of the Magdalena. The Magdalena is part of my life, my history, and my psycho-geography, as it is for many Colombians. I am in solidarity with the struggle of Asoquimbo, and with other communities around the world that are resisting extractive policies. I am not speaking about them, but speaking with them, raising awareness towards shifting the obsolete paradigm which manages nature as a resource and as an object for exploitation and study. We believe that there is no need to increase electrical supply, but an urgent need to cut its demand. While this is a major problem worldwide, it is a critical topic in Colombia where at least 50 large dams are currently in planning stages, 27 of them in the Huila region. If these dams are constructed, the Magdalena will dry up. The economic and cultural backbone of the country will be shattered in pieces. El Quimbo dam will be filled with the Magdalena's water by the end of 2014. It is necessary to point out this ecocide in all the possible ways and platforms available, to prevent and to fight further construction of mega-infrastructures that will continue to fracture the ecosystems and the communities that constitute Colombia.
The work you have produced over the past decade has consistently engaged diverse communities across the world, often giving agency to less visible aspects of our everyday society, such as informal economies, labor issues, and immigrant rights. How have you gone about responding to this specific situation as an artist and as an activist?
CC: I consider myself part of these communities, even if it is on a temporary basis. I am a single mother, an immigrant, and an underpaid cultural worker. My practice first and foremost is about seeking my own agency, and a lot of times it implies aligning myself with people struggling for dignity. I am not an activist. I associate activism to a certain kind of condescendence. I feel more comfortable functioning as an artist, allowing for a myriad of possibilities. Art is an intellectual and practical frame that at the moment permits me to engage with this specific struggle in a political and an aesthetic form. But tomorrow it may be the frame under which I withdraw to my studio to be productive, in complete isolation and disengaged from the conflict I'm embedded in -- or not. One position does not necessarily exclude the other. I want and I need this flexibility. However, I am aware that when my creative process and research is linked to the lives and struggles of other people, I do have a responsibility towards that struggle. I would define that responsibility with three words: trust, sharing and sincerity.
The struggle around El Quimbo dam is multi-tiered. It is geopolitical, environmental, social, and ethical. How do militarized actions and tactics factor into this equation, and why have you chosen to draw systemic and structural parallels between crowd management and water management through your artwork?
CC: The environmental and economic damages of building a dam like El Quimbo are so severe that licenses and construction permits had previously been denied for this type of development over the course of the last two decades. However, in 2009 the land was declared eminent domain (national interest) by then-President Alvaro Uribe Velez, and the environmental license was suddenly approved. A military battalion was stationed in the area to ensure the interests of the transnational corporation Emgesa-Enel, even before the construction began. As the territory has been militarized, its inhabitants have been restricted from moving freely across the land and the river they have ancestrally traversed. This battalion is the twelfth unit of a brigade called the Batallones Energético y Vial del Ejercito Nacional de Colombia (Energy and Road Battalions of the Colombian National Army). The corporation has also hired private security forces to guard the area. Furthermore we cannot forget that Colombia has an infamous history of paramilitary and guerrilla violence that has produced the highest number of individuals displaced domestically in the world, is very closely associated with illegal crops, and is connected to exploitative policies pertaining to natural resources such as mining, hydroelectric production, and oil extraction. Systematically, paramilitary or guerilla troops have arrived and terrorized a region, forcing its inhabitants to flee, and leaving the land empty and available for transnational companies to occupy and to usurp. It seems that after the terrorizing of humans comes the terrorizing of nature. In that I mean that ecosystems suffer a great deal, bodies of water become polluted, acres of forest disappear, and animal species become endangered at an astonishing rate. For example, of the 1,435 fish species native to Colombia, 81 are currently in danger of extinction including the Striped Catfish (Pseudoplatystoma magdaleniatum), that can only be found in the Magdalena River.1
Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water by stopping the flow of a river. By analogy, we can think of repression as an example of power that interrupts the flow of social and community organization. Social control is classified in three interconnected spheres - legal, physical, and psychological. These spheres form the context in which different players fight for the right to dissent. First, the legal sphere refers to the State´s techniques to pacify, to regulate, and to manage social and civil movements. Next, the physical sphere maps out the geography, restricting, codifying and determining the way communities inhabit and transit a territory. Here I am looking into the visual analogy between the wall of the dam and the wall formed by police cordons and barriers. Lastly, the psychological space molds the meaning and impact of the act of dissension, involving attitudes, fears and uncertainties. The psychological sphere of social control is the process that produces these feelings and ultimately generates public opinion. The psychological sphere is where the battle for meaning takes place.2
Today, the construction of large dams (150 feet or higher) are affecting nature's balance and ecosystems in countries like Colombia, Brazil, China and Turkey. There are more than 40,000 large dams in the world. Their weight is such that they have tilted the axis of our planet and changed the speed of its rotation. Large dams may be one of the single most important contributors to global warming, they "continuously consume and emit large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), the two most important non-synthetic greenhouse gasses." 3 We are systematically misinformed about hydroelectricity being a 'green' source of energy. I consider the wall of the dam to be a weapon that endangers our lifespan and life quality here in earth. It fragments and it fractures ecosystems, communities, personal histories, geographies, and cultural landscapes, and it disconnects the rivers from other water systems, generating trauma and inequalities. It has a similar impact to a powerful bomb dropped on your neighborhood, but in slow motion. The construction of El Quimbo began in 2009 and the reservoir is slated to be filled by the end of 2014.
As part of your residency at 18th Street Arts Center, you collaborated with contemporary dance choreographer Rebeca Hernandez. Why was it important to you to explore a performative outlet for this subject matter? Could you describe the performance "Beyond Control" that took place during the exhibition's opening reception?
CC: As dams affect bodies of water, and physical repression affects social bodies, it seemed imperative to use performing bodies to speak about these containment methods. In the performance Beyond Control, the body is understood as a political tool both for repression and resistance. I started the action by speaking aloud some of the aforementioned statistics about dams, while the other performers manipulated the bodies of people in the audience by changing the position of their limbs, for example. Then we did a call and response chant with artist Karen Adelman, who was in the back of the room, containing the audience with our voices. We invoked La Mohana, the folkloric spirit of water as it is known in Colombia, and thus set a ritualistic atmosphere. After this, a set of three movements choreographed by Rebeca Hernandez was performed. Gestures included the grabbing of one's own face and throat to indicate a self-silencing, or auto-repression, reflective of the effects of psychological, social control. More mechanized formations then transpired, referencing physical and legal forms of social control. I voiced information about police riot tactics known as Kettling or Corralling while we formed a chevron, or spear, with the other performers and walked through the audience fragmenting the public it in two groups.3 The chevron is also riot police technique, or Public Order Management System POMS, used to break large crowds.3
The performers then run back and forth from wall to wall through this corridor of audience member, throwing their arms up in the air and dramatically falling and slapping the floor, before they run again. This part speaks about the ideal conditions for building a dam, when the river has a strong and fast current, or when the river has a fall or goes through a high gorge.
Later, a number of planted participants started to push and kettle the audience and the performers together, until all personal space was lost and we were all jammed into a corner of the gallery. We maintained this tension for a period of time before I dedicated the night to two dam activist murdered recently in Colombia and Mexico. As it is unusual to be so close to unknown people in such a confined space, time was elongated and emotions within the crowd escalated. I started singing Mohana again, and immediately people joined in -- that was my favorite part because it was so unexpected! It was very special to feel this collective voice loud and clear. I had instructed the performers to then put a hand over the shoulders of people who were near, and this gesture spread around the crowd as well. It was a gesture for easing the tension, but it is also a gesture of power, of control. I then stepped away and the crowd took a moment to decide to break and spread out, and that was meaningful also. To lose your personal space is not easy, but once you are that close with other bodies you realize that it is not an everyday experience, and I assume that people in the audience wanted to retain that physical contact. I think also this facilitated people to sing along Mohana. Once personal space is lost and the individuals come together as a group it is easier to engage in collective activities and experiences.
The body of work presented in the exhibition "Be Dammed" at 18th Arts Center is part of a larger investigation. How do these works relate to other iterations you are working on, and what are the next steps for this project?
CC: "Be Dammed" is a constellation of projects and case studies that shine on their own, but also accumulate to form a whole. I began in 2012 and I envision working on this in an open-ended way for the next several years. Interviewing people related to this subject will continue to be an important part of my research. Storytelling as testimony to what it transpiring is also a very powerful tool, and I recognize it as an important formal aspect of the work. I also want to keep exploring the performative aspect, using some of the forms I examined in "Beyond Control" as a basis, specifically the call and response chant as a means to voice concern and trauma. The use of my voice, both in Spanish and English, whispering, addressing the public, or singing has a great potential towards the development of this project. I envision continuing to involve the public and using the body as a political tool.
For the next year and a half I will continue to focus on El Quimbo, as it is scheduled to be flooded in December 2014. I am working towards developing a number of on-site performances for the fall of 2014 that I refer to as geochoreographies. I am interested in using the body to imprint a living image over the landscape of El Quimbo, or rather, examining the body as a resource and as a formal medium to intervene the public space of the river as a way of humanizing the landscape, in contrast to the dehumanization that the hydroelectric construction produces. There are many body movements and gestures associated to the river. Amongst them are the acts of fishing, bathing, washing clothes, paddling, swimming, diving, panning for gold, and carrying water back home. Working with individuals in the region, I want to explore, study and collectively perform these gestures as a choreographic mechanism for reclaiming, re-thinking, re-appropriating, and re-using the geography of the river and its riverbanks in a sensorial and corporeal way. It is my hope that these geochoreographies will allow both performers and viewers an introspective and a time-specific connection to the context of the dam and the site. The geochoreographies will frame an acknowledgement of the interconnectivity of bodies: the corporeal body, the body of water as a social actor, the community as a collective body, the ecosystem as a body of natural elements, and the hydroelectric dam as an unwanted and alien body.
The geochoreographies will be developed together with local youth through a series of workshops and will involve performers, dancers, and visual artists from the region and abroad. Local elders, themselves perhaps the important resource, will also be engaged as they possess the gestural knowledge I am seeking to highlight and preserve. One of the performances, for example, may use a methodology of accumulated or serial actions. Imagine a simple everyday gesture like washing your face in the river, after a long day of work. Now imagine 100 people repeating that gesture in a choreographed way in an intervention that counteracts the massive image and effects of the dam. Or imagine 50 rafts and their paddlers crossing the river together in a coordinated fashion repeated over and over in an embodiment of a symbolical re-appropriation of the river's expanse. Ultimately, the geochoreographies aim to be a vibrant and meaningful presence in the physical and psychological landscape by creating a potent, durable image to remain in our memory, counterbalancing the traumatic vision of the dam construction and the fragmentation it produces. These experiences and consequent images may allow us to remember how it feels to inhabit a public rural space in a quotidian way, despite the imminence of its disappearance under the water that threatens to flood and submerge this territory; and furthermore to acquire skills and knowledge to support communities under similar threats.
From an artistic voice, how can we express solidarity with important social movements such as this one?
CC: Asoquimbo's defiance of the giant transnational is a personal inspiration that gives me strength to continue living. For me, art is a critical tool to formulate dissent; it exists as an alternative and important approach to how we inhabit this world. Projects like Be Dammed can promote collaborations and can bring the attention of the urban artistic, academic, politically-engaged and cultural community into Colombia's rural space, where significant processes of collectivism and dissent are taking place today. What we can learn from these existing rural practices are a non-violent set of values and skills somehow new to urban citizens. This set of principles and methodologies is intrinsic to the ecosystems they inhabit, based upon a sincere connection with nature, and deep understanding and respect for the other. For these processes to continue to thrive it is imperative to keep diverse channels for communication and exchange within the rural area open and fluid between the rural and the urban context, allowing for the collective rural voice to be heard loud and clear in all the corners of the planet. With the project Be Dammed, I am committed to work towards this kind of flow.
Why is the development of El Quimbo dam in Colombia a global issue? How might it related to the history of water wars in Southern California?
CC: "The containment of the river as a transformed landscape, the containment of the inhabitants of the area for the sake of new flow of capital, the water containment, the energetic flow for the global trade of resources, make evident that in these processes of contentions and flows there is a reorganization of visuality; it is a process of disciplining the gaze." 6 In the collective imagination, a dam is a symbol of progress and of modernity. I believe art is a powerful mechanism to transform and to create new imaginaries and new visual references. We cannot let the structures of power, like governments and transnational companies, monopolize the concepts of progress and development. As the population in question we have the right to define what these are, according to our local circumstances.
There are a number of people directly affected by El Quimbo dam, those being displaced, those whose businesses depend from the river, from this region, and so forth. But what about those affected over time, or in other geographies, like the victims of climate change and the natural disasters caused by it? Sooner or later all of us will be impacted by climate change. We keep thinking about these impacts as far away events, 10 or 20 years from now, when actually there are disenfranchised communities who are feeling the impacts today. There are numerous examples of communities affected at the present moment, a recent example of which are the estimated 4 million people displaced by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
I am not an expert on the water wars in Southern California, but I do understand that in the Western US, the Prior Appropriation Water Rights7 has applied, where people started to extract and remove water from the rivers and lakes, to cover mining and agricultural needs, and then drinking water for the developing cities. All this happened far from the water source, so prior appropriation "allocates rights based on who started using the water first. So if you are first in time, you are first in rights. And historically, it was based on a permitting process where you go and say you asked for the permit first, so you became the first user." How I read this is a blatant privatization of water, which in my mind should be a public good, or at least administered by public companies, by the people and for the people. The same thing is happening in Colombia, the river is by constitution a public good, but with the development of El Quimbo it is being privatized and transformed into corporate capital. There is a popular saying that reads: 'He who controls water controls the world'.
Voices from the region:
The following are excerpts of interviews conducted by Carolina Caycedo with individuals affected by or involved with the construction of El Quimbo during the ongoing research process of this project. For security purposes, the interviewees remain anonymous with only their occupation specified.
After they built Betania [another hydroelectric dam along the Magdalena River] fishing stopped, now fish doesn't come up, there is no upstream migration. We used to be able to fish thirty pounds of chub fish, catfish, everything! It would be enough for our home and to sell. Nowadays we're lucky if we arrive home with two pounds. It was our sustenance, now there are times when there isn't enough to make a broth.
Senator and opposition leader:
Multinationals only come to loot us. These transnational companies represent the big capitals of developed countries. The key question is why they come here. To answer this there are two theories: the idiot's answer, which is that they come here to save us from underdevelopment, backwardness and poverty. This is the official rhetoric but in actual fact they only come for one reason: the profit margins are higher here and they have been able to make this money come in freely through globalization. This gives them more reason to try to come here, because they don't risk jeopardizing their business due to a strike or a revolution. It's a process of imperialist re-colonization, this means that the kind of relationship that we have to them is similar to the one we had with Spain, but under the illusion of independence and sovereignty. What's new in comparison to the [Spanish] colony is that this time they rule through the natives.
Civil Engineer and Dam Manager:
Generally rivers have a certain capacity for recovery. Reservoirs can increase this capacity for recovery as the water is propelled by the great fall it goes through at a specific moment. The quality of the water can be improved in this way. However, if it is a very very polluted river, the best way to avoid contamination is through prevention and not through a corrective process.
Environmentalist and politician:
The construction of the dam affected many things. I have no doubt that even if compensation and benefits were demanded by the Constitutional Court, the ethnic territory was still affected.
Geographer and Researcher:
The company's original proposal was to favor the development of modern citizens with access to services. At the time many of the settlements were informal, taking basic services there was a way of formalizing and recognizing households, people feel it is a way of being acknowledged. This is why they pay for services but with the introduction of market strategies social aspects are disregarded and the focus is turned to economic interests. You can see this happened with the company, they do nothing but look at the financial and economic reports in order to adjust their rhetoric and narratives in relation to the offer of water services.
Young community organizer and artist:
Destruction, disgrace, dishonor...and much poverty, too much poverty. They violate everything we have -- everything that belongs to our ancestors...what they left us. They have indiscriminately looted graves, they couldn't care less. The only thing they care about is being able to produce energy or very good energy, as they say; this energy which we are never going to see and in fact we don't even need. They came to destroy us and to make people fight amongst themselves, but we are stronger than them. People are uniting, indignation creates groups and we are one of those indignant groups.
As far as mitigation is concerned it will become very difficult to understand each other because we are two very different cultures. One is a culture which, under the guise of progress puts a price on everything: on water, land, air, everything. For us, water can't be bought by anybody; nobody owns the air, the earth, the trees. Whilst in one culture there are many owners and administrators, in our culture the owner is the creator, who created [resources] for people who live here. But if a price is put on nature, diseases begin to spread together with disagreements about wealth. It will end, every day there is less nature. Material wealth is all that's thought about but the fact that the earth has a spirit is forgotten, a tree has a spirit, nature has an order for its waters, but today this order is broken.
As a result of the construction of infrastructure many indigenous populations have been left without their "father". They have been left without their ancestral law, their own system, their own order, their paradigm. They are now dependant on the national government's system. They are waiting like animals, like pigs who depend and feed from the hay that the government gives them. These populations have lost their sacred place and spiritual process together with their communities and cultural practices. It's the same for farmers, they need to grow crops and harvest, not simply receive money to get by. This is not enough.
Environmentalist and Professor:
In Colombia the benefit-cost analyses which are required by great mega-projects such as El Quimbo, are unfortunately not carried out. One knows that a dam such as this, approved without a strict analysis of social, environmental and economic benefit-cost - will always bring a great human tragedy with it. My impression with El Quimbo is that they didn't carry out enough studies and that they didn't manage the communities with any kind of sensitivity at all.
Local activist and community developer:
The biggest impact caused by projects such as El Quimbo is that they affect communities which to a large or small degree are self-sufficient, communities that can live from their own work in the land and river. Generally these communities are not as dependent; they don't pay much in taxes and don't create much money for the government and to support the political classes. So these communities of producers which are more autonomous must be turned to being consumers. The social fabric and the food chains in the local economy, on which people depended and lived well from, are destroyed. On the other hand there is environmental destruction at a regional level through the loss of biodiversity, the loss of vital ecosystems and the destruction of the river as an ecosystem.
From a personal point of view, the geography of my childhood and my family will remain under water. Neither my children nor my nephews will get to know it. We'll have to scuba dive to try to get to know what it used to be like. This is [an act of] uprooting, it is a result of dismissing that there are entire communities, populations, individuals, there are ecosystems, sacred sites, archeological sites, all of this is also lost within the reservoir. We didn't even mention that a ring of more or less one hundred meters surrounding the dam will belong to the company and the general public will lose access to this area. It will be illegal for us to get to the dam even to fill a glass with water, because even water will become the multinational's property. Many things get lost under the surface of a dam, from a personal, social and territorial point of view.
1 Castaño, Leidy. "Pez Jetón y Bagre Rayado a Pocos Pasos de la Extinción" Newsletter No.171. National University of Colombia, October 2013.
2 Fernandez, Luis A. "Policing Dissent." New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2009.
3 McCully, Patrick. Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams. New York: Zed Books, 2001.
4 Kettling (also known as containment or corralling) is a police tactic for controlling crowds during demonstrations or protests. It involves the formation of large cordons of police officers who then move to contain a crowd within a limited area for a prolonged time . Protesters are left only one choice of exit, determined by the police, or are completely prevented from leaving.
5 It is ironic that this tactic for repression is called a chevron, in light of the fact that the Chevron Corporation, together with other 24 transnationals, is responsible for two-thirds of the world's Greenhouse gas emissions, as reported during the recent COP19, UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland.
6 Salamanca, Claudia. "Represa-Represión." Text that accompanied the exhibition of the same name at La Central Gallery in Bogotá, Oct. 2012..
7 Also known as Pure Appropriation or the Colorado Doctrine, developed in the late nineteenth century and named for the state in which it originated
8Water Wars: Who Controls the Flow? NPR. June, 2013.
Carolina Caycedo is a Los Angeles-based artist, of a Colombian and British background. She engages with issues and contexts that affect a broad public on an everyday level. In her practice, art functions as a pretext for offering up utopian models to inhabit a world in which individuals and communities are increasingly subject to commodification, exploitation, and discrimination. Caycedo has initiated socially engaged projects in cities like San Francisco, New York, Madrid, Istambul, Bogota, San Jose, and London. Her work has been exhibited widely in venues such as Foundation Cartier and Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris; Iniva in London; Creative Time, New Museum, Queens Museum, Ford Foundation and Apex Art in New York; Serralves Museum in Porto and Museu da Cidade in Lisbon; House of World Cultures and NGBK in Berlin; Secession in Vienna; Moderna Galerija in Slovenia; MUSAC in Leon, Santa Monica Art Center in Barcelona; Casa Encendida and Matadero in Madrid; Wattis Institute in San Francisco; LACE and 18th Street Art Center in Los Angeles; Teorética in San José; Alianza Francesa, Espacio La Rebeca and Galería Santa Fé in Bogotá. She was included in the 2013 Paris Triennial, the 2009 Havana Biennial, the 2009 San Juan Poligraphic Triennial, the 2006 Whitney Biennial, the 2003 Venice Biennial, and the 2001 Istanbul Biennial. In 2012 Caycedo participated in DAAD's prestigious Artist-in-Berlin program (Berliner Künstlerprogramm). Additionally, Caycedo received the Cultural Exchange International grant from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs in 2009, the fellowship of the Arts and Humanities Research Board in London in 2005, the Cultural Diversity Award from London Arts in 2002, and the Year of the Artist Residency from the Arts Council of England in 2001.
This is a special time of year for the seagulls on Anacapa Island, the largest breeding ground for the Western gull in the Western U.S. The blooming wildflowers on the island make for a romantic setting for mating season.