A brief encounter with Beatriz Bustos Oyanedel

By Sarah Daniell

A few words with art curator Beatriz Bustos Oyanedel.
Beatriz Bustos Oyanedel, art curator.
Beatriz Bustos Oyanedel, art curator.

Where in the world do you feel most liberated, creatively?
When I am in contact with nature, walking along a beach in Uruguay or touring the canals of southern Chile - landscapes where man has not intervened. I also feel very creatively liberated at the popular festivals in Bolivia and Guatemala and at the carnival in Brazil. The dynamism that exists in those spaces causes an explosion of creativeness in me, an energy that keeps me going and working.

Why is the Space To Dream exhibition important?
Developing an exhibition always grants you the possibility of investigating and expanding your knowledge of the creative processes of artists, which allows you to get to know them and their work better and in turn understand what it is they are reflecting on, with respect to the changes we as people experience every day. For those who visit the exhibition, Space to Dream is an opportunity to get to know and see different ways to address the present and to enjoy and find connections with other peoples, cultures and histories.

What does art say that words can never express about political turmoil?
I believe that art can say more than the written word about historical or political events because through art you are able to express emotions and say what is, at many times, unspeakable. Narratives that only involve the field of rational thought and disregard emotion are always limited when trying to express the pain imposed in some political and historical events.

If someone could paint your portrait, who would that be?
I would prefer to have an artist tell a story about me rather than paint a portrait of me, as, in a sense, a narrative can offer another kind of portrait. In Space to Dream there are numerous artists whose work tells a story: the works from Joaquin Sanchez for example, or the duo Joaquin Cocina and Cristobal Leon, whose audiovisual work tells myths and legends of South America, and Colombian artist Kevin Mancera who illustrates his journey through different towns called Felicidad (Happiness). It would be very interesting to see my story translated into the mediums these artists use, because in a way my personal biography is the history of our people. Everyone's tale helps to make up history.

When is art its most triumphant?
When it is able to connect with the most profound part of you.

There is a saying that all artists must suffer to create. Is this, in your experience, true?
In some cases this is a given and in other cases it is not. I think what is most important for an artist is to connect with their impulses, their passions and obsessions, essentially with, as you would say in Spanish, "el vientre del alma" (the belly of the soul).

What is the greatest myth about Latin America perpetuated by the Western media?
They often identify Latin America as bright and colourful, when in reality, most of the continent is covered with grey and earthy tones. They also try and pinpoint a single adjective to describe Latin America. The essence of the continent is that it is a porous territory constantly moving which does not allow for it to be defined in closed terms.

What is your favourite phrase, in Spanish, and can you please translate?
"Ni pena, ni miedo" is a phrase by the Chilean poet Raul Zurita, which he wrote over the sand in the middle of the Atacama Desert in the north of Chile. This phrase translates as 'No pain, nor fear' and it essentially describes the attitude we need to have while living in our countries.

Beatriz Bustos Oyanedel is the co-curator of Space to Dream, at Auckland Art Gallery.

- Canvas

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