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Associate Professor Juan Obando Nominated for Luis Caballero Art Award

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Boston, MA – Wednesday, December 15 – Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) announces Juan Obando, Associate Professor for the Studio for Interrelated Media (SIM) at MassArt, was nominated for the Luis Caballero Art Award, the highest honor in Colombian contemporary art. Biennially, a group of mid-career Colombian artists are selected by the Bogotá District Institute for the Arts to create site-specific installations in Bogotá which are juried in consideration for the top prize. Obando was one of eight artists selected from over 50 applicants and the only U.S. faculty member nominated. The winner will be announced in summer 2022. Obando’s installation “La Bodeguita De La Concordia” (La Concordia’s Little Click Farm) is currently on view at Galeria Santa Fe in Bogotá until December 18, 2021. 

Inspired by the power and influence of social media bots and hackers on everything from pop culture to political elections, “La Bodeguita De La Concordia” asks the viewer to question if what they see is real, particularly during the pandemic when we’re viewing the world mostly through our screens. Obando’s project exists in two realities: the in-person, physical installation of a click farm with 300 phones and two attendants operating 300 Instagram accounts, and a fictional virtual reality created by Obando and propagated using the click farm. Digitally, Obando created a fake exhibition of ten pieces of art and inserted them into photographic images of the gallery space. Then, he generated more than one hundred photo-realistic scenes to disseminate “Instagram-ready” documentation of the fictional exhibition across the fake Instagram accounts to build interest in the show. Due to the pandemic, most of the public has only engaged with the digital component of the project on social media, but those visitors who have visited the exhibition in person are surprised to see a click farm installation and to learn that their perception was informed by a fake digital construction. Watch artist’s video about the project.

ARTIST BIO

Juan Obando holds an undergraduate degree in Industrial Design, with an Architecture minor, from Universidad de los Andes (Colombia, 2005) and an MFA in Electronic and Time-Based Art from Purdue University (US, 2010). Obando is an artist from Bogotá whose work presents the screen as a space where ideology confronts aesthetics and new worlds are speculated. Obando is interested in an expanded notion of operational systems—the dominant engineering which sustains social units—their intercultural adoption and possible interventions. His recent work includes screen-based installations, post-digital objects and kinetic sculptures. Through these means, he explores the generalized effects of late capitalism and aggressive globalization, and challenges the participation levels in which we operate under these conditions. His recent individual exhibitions include Pro revolution (Espacio Odeón, Bogotá, 2019), Full collabs (Distillery Gallery, Boston, 2018), Jeep vip (Volta Art Fair, New York, 2017) and Collabs (Nuevo Miami, Bogotá, 2017). The following are some collective exhibitions where he has participated: Game Changers: Video Games and Contemporary Art (MassArt Art Museum, Boston, 2020), Video sur (Video South) (Palais de Tokio, Paris, 2018), La vuelta (The Turn) (MAMM, Medellín, 2019) and Rencontres de la photographie (Arles, France, 2017), Aún (Yet), 44 National Artists Salon (Pereira, 2016) and Mde15 (Medellín, 2015). Obando was also awarded a Rhizome commission from The New Museum in 2012, a MassArt Foundation grant in 2017, and an ArtMatters Foundations fellowship in 2019.

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ABOUT MASSART

Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) is a public, independent institution that prepares artists, designers, and educators from diverse backgrounds to shape communities, economies, and cultures for the common good. One of the top colleges of its kind in the United States since its founding in 1873, MassArt has built a legacy of leadership as the first freestanding public college of art and design in the country, and the nation’s first art school to grant a degree. The College offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate degrees in art, design, and art education, all taught by world-class faculty. MassArt is also home to the MassArt Art Museum (MAAM). Formerly the Bakalar & Paine Galleries, MAAM is MassArt’s free contemporary art museum, professionally curated to enrich the academic curriculum and make contemporary art an accessible experience for all. Among MassArt’s most accomplished alumni are designer Brian Collins, multimedia artist Sam Durant, art dealer Arne Glimcher, Oscar-winning set designer Nancy Haigh, visual artist and composer Christian Marclay, 2016 Project Runway winner Erin Robertson, interior and lifestyle designer Kelly Wearstler, and conceptual artist William Wegman. To learn more, please visit massart.edu.

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