This interview addresses points critical to the conception and production of the project Ciudad Kennedy: Memoria y Realidad (2003). It serves as a complement to the analysis of that work that Gutiérrez formulates in ¿Dónde mierda estoy? – En Kennedy, churro. ¿No conocía? (2006) in the book ciudad-espejo (2009). The interview places the work in the socio-political context of Bogotá which, at that time, was benefiting from the educational and cultural policies of Mayor Antanas Mockus (b. 1952) geared to what was called “the coexistence of the citizenry,” policies that encouraged civic behavior on the part of the city’s residents. Cristancho states that he abandoned the medium of painting for photography because it is more suited to signaling the urban environment. He considers this project a turning point in his production. In relation to Barrio Techo in Kennedy, the eighth locality of Bogotá, Cristancho emphasizes the hybridization and cultural crossings evident in, for instance, the tendency to use English names in Colombia after John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917–63) visited the country in 1961. Those concerns, Cristancho explains, are crucial to both his past work and his more recent photography. This statement supports Gutiérrez’s thesis that the origin of the project lies in the local population’s tendency to use foreign names.
In addition to the neighborhoods of Bogotá, other influences decisive to this project were connected to events that took place on the international art scene, which Cristancho was immersed in as a student in the Art Institute of Chicago’s master’s program. Cristancho states that he was enriched by the work of theorists like Hal Foster (b. 1955), who was crucial to the North American debate on postmodernism that ensued during the eighties. The work of such theorists helped Cristancho to understand the need to reassess the past as well as the present in devising a strategy to renovate discourses of identity. Due to this theoretical bent, the interview is, at times, a discussion of highly specialized topics. Repeated reference to the experience of the neighborhood, though, serves to indicate that the prime mover of theproject is human experience. Emphasis is placed on “small stories of anonymous people that form part of an enormous, global, dominant international ideological discourse that determines the lives of real human beings.”
Colombian artist Raúl Cristancho (b. 1955) has a degree from the Art School of the Universidad Nacional of Colombia. He received a Fulbright Fellowship to participate in the Master’s of Fine Arts program at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was educational director of the Art Program at the Universidad Nacional of Colombia (1996−97), where he currently (2010) teaches.