Radical Acts

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Beatriz González. Zócalo de la comedia. Zócalo de la tragedia. 1983 282

One from a set of six linoleum cuts, sheet: 39 13/16 × 28" (101.1 × 71.1 cm). Latin American and Caribbean Fund. © 2024 Beatriz González

Artist, Beatriz Gonzalez: I’m Beatriz Gonzalez and I live in Bogota, Colombia. I’m more than 80 years old, and I still make curious paintings and artworks.

You’re looking at my work Zocalo de la Comedia y la Tragedia, which I made in 1983. They were made to be posted up on the streets of Bogota.

This work has to do with the arrival in 1982 of a new president, Belisario Betancur, who was very Nationalistic, but a cheap Nationalism, that was close to Populism. I was looking with a critical eye at how these people ascend to power, because power gives them a certain aura, a way to spread their style.

It occurred to me that Colombia was moving between two poles: comedy and tragedy. For Tragedy, I chose a work based on photographs from the news of a crime where a [man] murdered his [friend's girlfriend] in a murder-suicide. The other was the former president captured in a photo in the press putting a medal on a diplomat.

The purpose was to ridicule them. It was a bit of a mockery. I wanted the public to call into question the presidents and what Colombia represented, how presidents used power. It was mocking that concept of national identity that the new president was feeding us.

I chose street posters because I thought it was a way to get my work in the public eye, and these were the kind of posters that were put up daily.

I didn’t like being called a political artist, but I did like being called a transgressive artist, I love the word. Using these images was an aggressive, biting commentary about politics, the country and power.