Atlas of a continent that does not exist

15 Sep 2022 > 15 Nov 2022
artist(s): Santiago Vélez

Investigating into the geopolitics of water such as human migration and climate change, Santiago Vélez became conscious of the geopoetics of water. Water as one of the elements of our world which is always changing and where that change feeds into a necessary transformation. Nature shows us its ways: the thawing of a glacier, its death is at the same time the birth of a river. A transformation that opens up to other possibilities.

These transformations can almost seem deceptive to humans who tend to have a fixed and preconceived notions as is indicated by the name given to one of the bases off the South Shetland Islands, close to where the artist carried out part of his residency. It is called Deception Island. The reason became apparent when at the end of the austral summer of the year 2000 and due to the substantial increase in temperature there was a thawing of the Antarctic, causing the emergence of islands that had been under the sea. Santiago Velez’s works from the series Deception island, created on pages from an atlas, challenges the veracity of maps and static depiction of the world.

With his work the Wind Diary, the artist shares with us the experience of being in the Antarctic where measuring the wind in knots is essential and decisive for daily life. As the artists says “Measuring the wind at almost any time of the day, it becomes indispensable for any activity: traveling by plane, getting to the ship, disembarking, walking, exploring, going to a nearby island or even leaving the base to stretch your feet or breathe in the fresh air(…)“The weather diary with knots gives an account of each of my days in the place and reading it, perhaps you will understand what I experienced each day”.

Perhaps one of the most mysterious aspects of the Antarctic are those areas that are yet to be discovered and mapped. In geographic cartography they are given the name of “Sleeping Beauties”. These blank spaces are traced on the maps with rectangular figures and the inscription “No Survey”. The evocative term, coupled with the perfunctory recording also indicate how we as humans can only see things in relation to ourselves – as if these area are somehow dormant and non-existent until they are discovered and named by us. It brings to mind Einstein’s question, appropriated by the physicist David Mermin – does the moon only exist when I look at it? The delicate almost ephemeral works in the series Sleeping Beauties, hints at various possibilities.

We are delighted to present the first solo exhibition of Santiago Vélez in Tasneem Gallery, showing a selection of the work produced in the artists investigation about geopoetic of water. Tasneem the directora of the gallery was drawn to the works for both their political and poetic exploration. Having grown up in the island of Britain with a heritage that spans the delta that is Bangladesh, for her, water in all its glory is an issue that is ever present.

About the artist
Santiago Vélez, Medellín, Colombia, 1972. He makes photos, videos, installations and objects. The work of Santiago has been shown on various Biennials, in museums in Colombia and is part of public and private collections. He currently is working on his PhD of artistic investigation at the University of Barcelona. He was one of the researchers participating in the sixth and eighth Colombian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica as part of the Colombian Antarctic Art Project founded by artist Natalia López La Reina and managed by the Viajelogía Foundation. The expeditions to Antarctica are carried out thanks to the Colombian Antarctic Program coordinated by the Colombian Ocean Commission.