This document evidences the critical debate surrounding the work of Colombian artist Liliana Angulo (b. 1974), which was featured in two major exhibitions in 2006. This text stands in opposition to the one written by critic Jorge Peñuela (b. 1977) who argues that Angulo’s work uses the stereotypes and issues facing certain social groups to engage in a sort of “self-exoticization” for the sake of gaining recognition. Ricardo Arcos-Palma (b. 1968), on the other hand, defends Angulo as a woman of Afro-Colombian descent who has managed to confront the Colombian art scene with an image of blackness as she interrogates her status as artist. Arcos- Palma aptly compares Angulo’s work with that of Cindy Sherman (b. 1954), both of which he considers the reflection of the cultural image of “the female other.” Rather than “self-exoticization,” Arcos-Palma sees Angulos’s work as a critical signaling of the social paradigm of the black population. On the basis of the degraded image of “la negrita,” of the woman of African descent who works as a domestic servant, Angulo makes a self-portrait that revolves around the stereotypes and stigmatizations still facing the non-hegemonic race.
Arcos-Palma’s depiction of Colombian society as racist and as indifferent—or even blind—to the issue of race is accurate. Angulo formulates a comic and critical position that mocks ignorance about blackness. Arcos-Palma envisions the artist’s exercise as political tool and activist weapon, one that exposes the marginality of black women in Colombia and the invisibility of racial minorities in general, demanding the civil, political, and social rights of the populations most vulnerable to xenophobia. Angulo forms part of a generation of artists whose production from 2000 to 2010 addressed issues of gender and identity in Colombia.
Artist Liliana Angulo has a degree from the Universidad Nacional (Bogotá campus). Her work was featured in the Encuentro internacional de Medellín MDE07 (2007). In 2008, she was a guest artist at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, France. At present (2010), she lives and works in Bogotá.
Art critic Ricardo Arcos-Palma studied philosophy. He has a doctorate in the artistic sciences and a master’s in aesthetics from the Sorbonne in Paris. At present (2009), he teaches in the History and Theory of Art Department of the Universidad Nacional of Colombia.