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Cambalache


CAMBALACHE IS A COLLECTIVE WITHOUT MEMBERS of Spanish and Colombian artists: Carolina Caycedo (London, 1978), Adriana del Pilar García Galán (Neiva, 1977), Alonso Gil (Badajoz, 1966) and Federico Guzmán (Sevilla, 1964). We have worked together since 1997. We met at the University of Bogota and it was love at first sight. With the express desire to make art out of exchanges with people, we started to search for intimate moments in the public space, for “poetic events” that would signify the human and social relations of everyday urban life.

After a number of performances of “play in the public space” that dealt with the possible uses of the street, A toda mecha was our first organised activity: an itinerant beauty salon for the residents of the calle del Cartucho, one of the most impoverished sectors of Bogota. The collective worked in the neighbourhoods’ health centre offering hairdressing and styling services to anyone who dared to put themselves in our hands. For some weeks, intense meetings took place with strangers who, for a little while, would share their life stories and worries with us, in a relaxed and agreeable setting.

The experience of confronting an upside down world led us to question much of what we had been taught about the art institution, artists and their real role in the world, the market, its routines, and prestige. With many questions and also many wishes we founded the street museum, a project of exchange (cambalache) and informal redistribution that promotes cultural recycling and the non-monetary exchange of goods and services. The museum on wheels was housed in a truck carrying a permanently exchangeable collection. This vehicle has allowed us to diagonally cut across firmly stratified realities using play and gifts as tactics for deterritorialization. Since 1998 the museum has driven through the streets of Bogota, Ljubljana, Sevilla, Barcelona, San Juan de Puerto Rico, Paris, Bern, Alcorcon, Istambul and Coslada.

In 2002 the collective Local Cultura joins Cambalache for Torino’s young art biennial and Alonso Gil becomes an irreplaceable member of the team. The methodology of exchange is diversified in relation to the people and collectives that we find on our way. The question is “what do you have to offer and what could you be interested in from what I have?” In this manner we colaborate with the patients of Torino’s mental hospital, the squatters of the social centre and the immigrants of the Piazza de la República. Due to a shared passion for music, we start with the street sound performances, which take place in London, Fortaleza, Kassel and Stuttgart. The gift exchange takes the form of songs donated by passers by we find in the street. Hip hop spontaneously dominates these festive encounters as a shared urban language sending its message from down low.

As is easy to figure out, Cambalache doesn’t like to work. We love what we do, but we don’t like to swindle. We are convinced of the political potential of fun and laughter. As individual artists we can disappear or multiply ourselves in the collective whenever necessary. We are searching for an art capable of shaping the process of representing an unknown future; a process to expose the contradictions in which we live so that they can be felt and communicated on a cultural level. We would like to obtain a certain knowledge that, rather than being abstract and limited, albeit seemingly sufficient, is more respectful of our own selves and the realities that we confront every day. This is our starting point... now the world’s the limit.

Titles

Statement

We met at the University of Bogota and it was love at first sight. With the express desire to make art out of exchanges with people, we started to search for intimate moments in the public space. Our first organised activity was an itinerant beauty salon for street residents. The experience of confronting an upside down world led us to question much of what we had been taught about the art institution, artists and their real role in the world, the market, its routines, and prestige. As you can imagine, Cambalache doesn’t like to work. We love what we do, but we don’t like to swindle. We are convinced of the political potential of fun and laughter. As individual artists we can disappear or multiply ourselves in the collective whenever necessary. We are searching for an art capable of shaping the process of representing an unknown future; a process of exposing the contradictions in which we live so that they can be felt and communicated on a cultural level. We would like to obtain a certain knowledge that, rather than being abstract and limited, albeit seemingly sufficient, is more respectful of our own selves and the realities that we confront every day. This is our starting point... now the world’s the limit.