The Cow and the Orchid

Generic Colombian Photography

Curated by Timothy Prus at Les Rencontres d’Arles, 2017

No one doubts Queen Victoria would have loved Colombia.

She was known to suffer from orchid delirium and appointed an official Royal orchid expert whose name was Frederick Sanders.

The queen also had an enormous empathy for cows. Beautiful specimens graced the Royal herd and won many prizes. Sadly, there is nothing of Victoria and Fred in this exhibition, but we should have no regrets.

The photos in this exhibition were gathered during a 12-year journey through Colombia. No stone was left unturned in the search for truly generic photographs of this country. As the collection grew, a vision emerged that was at once closer to Europe and at the same time infinitely more mysterious than we could have imagined.

Do they help us understand the territory in a more profound way?

Definitely not. It remains an enigma. Mixing the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries forced time to fold in on itself. Any clearer? Well, perhaps a trifle.

The sensual orchid is one of Colombia’s national symbols. The cow, placid and generous, is a symbol of nothing. The place between the two – like photography – is ambiguous. And so we find a nation where image-making is pulsing like a fiesta in which we can all take part.

– Timothy Prus

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Please visit our online shop to view the exhibition catalogue published by AMC Books.

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