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The Art of Trepanning
2019 TrepaNacion PlakatFernando Coco Bedoya
und die Kunst der Trepa-Nation

14. Oktober 2019 – 16. Februar 2020

Fernando “Coco” Bedoya (Borja, Peru, 1952), a Peruvian artist based in Argentina since the late 1970s, bridges the experiences of artistic political activism in both Peru and Argentina. Both as a former active member of several art collectives and as a solo artist, he has exhibited his renowned work in the Americas and Europe.

The exhibition explores Peru’s colonial history of exploitation and cultural erosion as well as the ongoing tension between popular and fine art. It was in the 1990s, when Bedoya presented for the first time the supposed archaeological remains of a certain “Cultura Trepa-nación” (Trepa-nation culture). Trepanación (trepanation) refers to the surgical perforation of the skull, art in which specialists of pre-Spanish archaeological cultures, among them the Incas, excelled – as shown by the chirurgical instruments (Tumis) and photos exhibited at the BASA Museum in dialogue with Bedoya’s art. However, the Spanish term, when hyphenated, turns into trepa-nación, which means “climbing-nation” – a word-play invented by Bedoya to refer to “a colonized nation trepanned by opportunism and exploitation. “Trepanning” also plays with one of the meanings of the word, namely the long history of the art of cheating, including the production of fakes and „typical“ Peruvian objects.

In his “Trepanaciones”, Bedoya intervenes replicas of Incan, Moche, and Nazca pottery intended for tourist consumption. By sawing the handles off these ready-made vessels, Bedoya imitates the act of trepanning by leaving two holes in the body of the vessel. One hole is left open, bearing the mark of the intervention, while the other is covered up by a Coca-Cola bottle cap, the mark and symbol of the modern-day global exploiter, a motif that re-appears in several of his later works, also exhibited here.
The Coca-Cola cap is also a reference to the native coca plant, cultivated at the slopes of the Andes, known throughout the world for its psychoactive alkaloid, cocaine. Coca-Cola used coca leaf extract in its products from 1885 and until about 1903; even today there is a laboratory in New Jersey, which can legally import coca leaves from Peru and, to a lesser extent, Bolivia. Besides producing the coca flavoring agent, they also extract cocaine to sell to a US pharmaceutical manufacturer licensed to purify the product for medicinal use. But coca leaves mostly go to the illegal trade and drug production. Thus Bedoya’s trepanations also
refer to these effects in Peru’s economy and population.

Bedoya also uses the sawed handles, that is the portion extracted from the heads and the body of the trepanned ceramics, as a crucial element of his work: he constructs with them serpentine forms as well as a new series inspired by the Mexican protection shields (chimallis), a work presented here as “ADN peruano” (Peruvian DNA), namely a magnification of the cell of the Peruvian nation. These forms, in fact, characterize which in archaeology are called stirrup spout and double spout bridge vessels (asa estribo and puente), ceramics developed in the Peruvian coast (Chavín, Moche, Nazca). Some originals, located in the BASA
Museum, are also exhibited here in dialogue with Bedoya’s art.

Acknowledgements: The exhibition owes much to Rochi del Castillo (Fundación Gecu, Peru), to the staff of the Dirección General para Asuntos Culturales del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores del Perú, Embajada del Perú en Alemania (Berlín), Ministerio de Cultura del Perú, the galleries Henrique Faria Fine Arts (NYC) and Hrlitzka & Faria (Buenos Aires), Jana Brass, Karoline Noack and Gerd Kortekamp.

Kuratorin: Irina Podgorny, Museo de La Plata/CONICET- Argentinien



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