Monday, 7 February 2011


Wilson Diaz, 'Fallas de Origen', 1997

Wilson Diaz, 'Cali Coca Gardens', 2003

Leonardo Herrera, 'El Origen de las Cosas' polaroids, 1998 (right wall)

Leonardo Herrera, 'Signature of Rodriguez Orejuela', 2003; and Jose Horacio Martinez, 'The Bodyguard' watercolours, 2010

Jose Horacio Martinez, 'The Bodyguard' video , 2010 and Margarita Garcia, 'Cali Cartels', 2010

Wilson Diaz, 'Cali Coca Gardens', 2003

Wilson Diaz, 'Fallas de Origen', 1997

Jose Horacio Martinez, 'The Bodyguard' watercolours, 2010

Leonardo Herrera, 'Signature of Rodriguez Orejuela', 2003

Leonardo Herrera, 'El Origen de las Cosas' polaroids, 1998

gallerists Katherine Hernandez and Beatriz Lopez with exhibition curator Juan Sebastian Ramirez

artist Wilson Diaz next to his work

'Cali: Fallas de Origen' is an exhibition that looks at the narco problem(1) within the context of the city of Cali, with works by Wilson Díaz, José Horacio Martinez, Leonardo Herrera and Margarita García.

During the 70s the drug trafficking "business"(2) started to make its appearance in Cali. Already in the 80s it had pervaded all aspects of Cali's society, and the city became one of the world’s epicentres for drug trafficking(3). After the demise of the Cali Cartel(4) that used to concentrate most of the trade, far from disappearing the activity atomized into hundreds of smaller illegal groups with lower visibility. While during the 70s one could hear rumours about the recent existence of drug trafficking in the city, during the mid-80s one could consider drug trafficking as being omnipresent; nowadays, the phenomenon persists atmospherically.

Both, the instant money from drugs and the violence inflicted by the Mafia changed the city for good with dramatic results. The architecture of Cali, went from the 50s unfinished Modernism, to the Miami style going through the narco deco,and finally landed on the syncretic narco-architecture that currently prevails in the city. The slang to refer to narcos went from the picaresque mágico(5) to the derogatory – but contextual – traqueto(6), to the current common use of narco as a prefix that seems to be applicable to any sort of word(7).

1. The category 'narco problem' includes the stages of production, processing, trafficking and consumptio; from Santiago Rueda Fajardo 'Una línea de polvo: Arte y drogas en Colombia', Alcadía Mayor de Bogotá, Bogotá, 2009
2. During the early 70s, before the consequences of drug trafficking could be anticipated, drug trafficking was socially perceived as a commercial activity rather than a crime.
3. During the 80s, the Cali cartel along with the Medellin cartel were responsible for the 90% of drug smuggling in the USA according to the DEA.
4. The capture and extradition of the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers and the arrest of Chepe Santacruz, during the presidential period of Ernesto Samper, was the beginning of the end of the Cali cartel.
5. The term mágico suggested the amazing ease the racketeers had to generate money.
6. The word traqueto, synonym of drug baron originates from the onomatopoeia of a machine gun shooting, tra-ca-ta.
7. Some examples of the use of narco as prefix in Colombia are narco-toyota, narco-chalet, narco-burbuja, narco-politica, narco-economía, narco-terrorismo, etc...

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