The monograph El puente /El pedazo/[The Bridge / The Piece] is the fruit of the research conducted by Erika Martínez Cuervo (b. 1978) for her thesis on the history and theory of modern and contemporary art at the Universidad de los Andes. Over the course of the last twenty years, the arts and humanities faculties at various universities in Colombia have become the most important centers in the country for research in the field of modern and contemporary artistic practices. The solid foundations and the clarity of this monographic study make it an immensely valuable document to those who seek to understand some of the main aspects of contemporary aesthetic problems, such as the urban experience, memory, spatial area, visual language, and the social use of art. Based on an analysis that articulates aesthetic problems with sociohistorical dimensions, Martínez allows her readers to assess El puente [The Bridge], the work by Óscar Muñoz (b. 1951) from the perspective of its contemporary meaning within the history of our art.
Based on interviews and detailed observations, Martínez describes the many facets of the artistic process: Muñoz’s access to a photographic archive, the steps involved in the research and interpretation, and the construction of the work of art with what was virtually waste matter, and the actual production of the work itself. In this case, the work is understood as an intervention in a particular space that deserves to be interpreted in light of its relationship to the social world in which it exists. Martínez’s monograph relies on a form of presentation that facilitates an articulation of two views of the work El puente: the artist’s own voice and the researcher’s voice, expressed simultaneously. This document therefore contributes a wealth of empirical data of great importance to the analysis of Muñoz’s work, and at the same time, presents an extremely serious interpretation of his art, including reflections on its aesthetic and historical significance.
El puente, the project by Óscar Muñoz, includes a video and a book, jointly titled Archivo por contacto [Contact File]. They document part of the research on the images that are used in the project and are reproduced in different formats. These documents were presented in England at the exhibition, (2) Once more, with feeling: Recent photography from Colombia, jointly organized by The Photographers’ Gallery (London) and the Impressions Gallery (Bradford). The exhibition included works by six contemporary Colombian artists that were focused on aesthetic problems related to repetition, memory, and intervention. Muñoz’s work is extremely important within the field of contemporary Colombian art, mainly because it explores the connections among memory, space, and time, and the material and symbolic nature of modes of expression that include, in particular, the various social phenomena through which the individual is linked to the city and to violence.