16th November 2006 — 13th January 2007
her practice, Carolina Caycedo deals with issues such as
migration-immigration, cultural identity, processes of exchange and
personal encounters. Often responding to the effects of global
capitalism, her work attempts to open up a space within current social
and economical structures, referring back to alternative economies and
popular culture. From street actions and itinerant markets to public
marches, her work is the result of a close dialogue with communities
outside of the art world.
In 2002, Caycedo hit the streets of Vienna driving an old van with the slogan I Need You Need I Give You Give. With the tank full of petrol and no money in her pockets, she intended to live by means of barter and exchange. This adventure was part of the public art project Day to Day, organised in conjunction with Secession. Based on trust and depending on other people's will to interact with her, she found herself exchanging Spanish lessons for a hot shower or drilling holes in return of a home cooked meal. "Barter is the base of a subeconomy in some countries of South America" - she recalls, "by introducing it in a city such as Vienna I didn't aim to change the world nor even have a great impact, or telling anything new." More important, she brought up ideas about a society less dependent on economic constraints and, for those participating in the exchange Caycedo offered the opportunity to take on a responsibility that had long been taken away by the capitalist system, a system that imposes the value of labour, time and things. In Day to Day the participants value their own time, and put a price to labour, thus generating a different scale of values to that imposed by the system.
One could say that Day to Day is less about barter than it is about a new way of relating to institutions and producing artworks. "My work" Caycedo recalls, "is built collectively with artist and public negotiating at the same level". For much of her work is constantly questioning boundaries: boundaries between producers and consumers, amateurs and professionals, countries and in short, between life and art.
In 2002, she married a close friend in order to provide him with British nationality. The ceremony was recorded and can now be seen in the work How to Obtain a British Passport, an amateurish mise en scene following the negotiations on both parts to arrange a fake marriage with the sole intention to provide the groom the right to stay in the country he has chosen to live.
Born in London to Colombian parents, Caycedo's work often drives our attention to issues of immigration and cultural identity. In 2004 she organised a march through the streets of Hackney under the slogan Immigrants Influence Home Cultures, an initiative that aimed to gather the great variety of immigrants that concentrate in some areas of the East End, thus focusing attention on the diversity and variety upon which the London culture is collectively being built.
Always on the move, from London to Bogota or New York to Puerto Rico, Caycedo appropriates the diversity of the cultures in which she finds herself immerse. One of her most recent projects, Local Motion (2006) a jukebox that compiles a soundtrack of the past years of her life, takes us through an unconventional tour around the places she's lived from 1995 to 2006. From Mexico to Istanbul, music becomes a universal language carrying feelings that are easy to identify everywhere, it takes us to unknown places, it feeds our imagination and goes beyond boundaries.
Music became a key element to her practice when in 2003 curator Carlos Basualdo invited her to participate in the 50th Venice Biennale as part of the show The Structure of Survival, asking her the rather ambitious task of analysing the problem of social disparity in the world. For this occasion, Caycedo flew to the slums of Bogotá and recorded the sounds that were being produced there by the nonconformist youth that finds in music a way to escape the constraints imposed by their social condition. Shanty Sounds is a compilation of rap, hip hop and reggaeton, the rhythms that have become a way of social protest and an intimate parcel that can't be chased by the authorities.
Caycedo's work is drawn by her own personal experience, extending the site of artistic production into the wider world in which she lives and moves. Her work is often the result of cooperation, encounters and conversations with individuals or small communities, and it is through these encounters that she exposes the cracks and faults of a system that is slowly embracing us all.
Blow de la Barra
35 Heddon Street
London W1B 4BP