Adriana Ciudad Witzel is a Peruvian-German artist based in Bogota since 2014. Prior to returning to Latin America she lived in Berlin where she studied at the UdK - University of the Arts and graduated with an MA in Fine Arts at 2008. Her most recent work has been exhibited in Crisis Gallery (Lima), LA TERTULIA Museum (Cali), La Casa del Lago (Mexico City), Y Gallery (New York), SACObienal (Antofagasta), Galería El Museo (Bogotá) and in NC-arte (Bogotá).
Among the awards received are the Grant UNDP (United Nations Development Programe) obtained to produce the Alabaos Project, the renowned scholarship from the DAAD Program (German Academic ExchangeService) obtained to carry out a project in Los Angeles and the Painter Price of the Dorothea Konwiarz Foundation in Berlin. She’s held residencies at Lugar a Dudas (Cali) and SACObienal (Antofagasta), amongst others.
Bydelving into my own emotional and psychological life, I invite viewers tomeditate on themes such as grief, maternity, and the female condition. I usepainting, drawing, sound and installation to explore these issues via poeticand affective languages.
In 2018 when my mother died, my world came to a standstill. I could no longer feel the ground beneath my feet; I only felt vertigoand pain. “May your chest burst into pieces and break your heart. My soulshatters and I lose my head.” These are the lyrics of the Afro-Colombian deathsong — Alabao — that I coincidentally came across on the Internet whilemourning. This verse spoke to what I was feeling and became the point ofdeparture for Proyecto Alabaos,a multimedia project made in collaboration with the Cantoras of Timbiquí, Colombia. I understood that the only way to approach thisproject was to allow myself to be vulnerable and immerse myself in the distantand mystical world of Timbiquí. Though from disparate worlds, the Cantoras andI managed to connect through the intimacy of loss. Death, after all, I realizedis universal. During the realization of this project, I learned from theCantoras that it is necessary to lose one’sground from time to time and to embrace the fragility of life. This projectallowed me to heal. The show opened at La Tertulia Museum in Cali where theCantoras and myself offered a Levantamientode Muerto to mourn the public’s dead. More than three hundred peopleattended and honored their dead in tears and song.
A year later, I gave birth to my son and experiencedthe other end of the spectrum of existence. I went from grappling with themystery of death to the miracle of giving life. After twelve hour ofpainstaking labor and months of sleepless nights I learned that bearing lifetests the very limits of the female condition. My body was left shattered andin pain. My mind was overcome with a tidal wave of conflicting emotions.Suddenly I was a shell of my former self, caring for a helpless and beautifulbeing who needed to be lulled hours on end. But, I too needed to be lulled. Heridasy remedios, is a series of drawings I made just 8 months after giving birth that reflects onthe wildtransformation that every mother lives in silence. The series, in essence,explores the female exile in which women, out of desperation and loneliness,turn to their grandmothers’potions and remedies to heal their physical and psychological wounds.
Now, I have been amother for two years. I´ve broken out of the shell of my former self and I amslowly learning to take flight as a mother. I´ve stubbornly accepted that mybody will never be the same and that I now wear my child’s heart on my sleeveeverywhere I go. Only the memory of my former self remains. Motherhood has opened my eyes to both thepower and powerlessness of the female condition. Sentirla propia sombra is a work-progress series of oil and water paintings wereI explore the exasperating yet life-affirming metamorphosis that a woman undergoesin motherhood. The title of the series comes from the Guaraní people of the Amazonswhere wisdom is to feel one’s own shadow.“Darkness embraces everything”, says the Guaraní leader Carlos Papá Mirim.“Mother darkness is where we come from at birth and where we go to die. Insidethe mother’s womb we have our first existence in darkness”. This series seeks to bring to light the shadowof the condition motherhood in a world that tends take it for granted.