Galeria MÜ: A New Angle on the Arts in Bogota

 

Seeing a gap and filling it, husband and wife duo Carolina Montejo and Andrew Ütt opened Galeria MÜ a year ago in the burgeoning Macarena district of Bogota. Over the last year, the gallery which is the first and (to-date) only photography in Bogota, if not Colombia, dedicated solely to showing photography, has given exposure to national and international artists. Some are just starting their professional careers, while others have been practicing for many decades. Not only has Galeria MU gained the respect and loyalty of artists, collectors and the general public, but they have become an integral part of Bogota’s ever-evolving art-scape. Montejo and Ütt took time from preparing for the gallery's first exhibit of 2012, Palimpsestos by internationally renowned photographer Francois Dolmetsch, to talk with Bogota Brilliance:

 

BB: What motivated you to open the gallery, and why in the Macarena?

MÜ: We were motivated by our passion for art and photography, by a new cultural scene that we found increasingly in Bogotá and especially in the Macarena neighborhood, where a gallery district made way for a wonderful community of art, gastronomy and creativity.

 

BB: Are people still skeptical about photography as an art? And, if so, why do you think that is?

MÜ: It´s hard to generalize about this subject because many people value art photography in Bogotá. However, the majority is still skeptical, principally because anyone can take a photo these days, so distinguishing a personal photo from a conceptual one is complicated. Also, because of the many different uses of photography in daily life: personal photos, marketing, editorial, commercial, and documentary, just to name a few, and this makes it hard for people to accept that there is yet one more side: art. This is why it’s important to educate on the subject of fine art photography.

 

BB: Is there a point where photos are overly-manipulated by technology that it can no longer be considered photography?

MÜ: There are different answers to that question; one is that photography is technology, so it is logical for technology to use and re-use itself, and in a world so multi-media it is valid to combine different techniques. Now, artists decide the name of the medium they produce, and for us it is important that a photographic process is the core of the work but we support the combination of media because we understand that is part of the culture we live in. As for the subject of manipulation directly on the photo with, let’s say photoshop, we support it because these programs are mere laboratories, like going into the dark room for an analogue processes, photos need to be worked on because that is how a photographer gives his work something unique and personal.

 

BB: Why do you think Bogota, and Colombia, were ready for a photo-only gallery?

MÜ: In the last few years Colombia has grown in its recognition of photography as an art as well as its place within Latin American art. Other major cities in the world have various galleries that specialize in photography and as an up and coming cultural society it was evident that Bogotá needed to fill this gap.

 

 

BB: In general, how difficult is it to open and sustain a gallery? Are there particular challenges in Bogota?

MÜ: On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most difficult, it´s an 11. The main things for sustaining the gallery are passion and patience. If you are passionate, you will make things happen, and if you are patient your vision will come alive.

 

BB: What has the public reception been like?

: It has been wonderful. That is one of the main things that keep us going, that we see interest and joy when people come to visit our exhibitions and lectures, that they see a side of photography that is exciting and inspiring to them.

 

BB: How have you been received by other galleries?

MÜ: We have excellent relationships with all the galleries in the Macarena neighborhood.

 

BB: How do audiences react to the artist’s lectures, and how do the artist’s react to interacting with the audience?

MÜ: The audiences love lectures because the ideas behind the images are just as important as the image itself and within the lectures many of the ideas are expressed and questions that contribute to those ideas are brought up. The artists also like them because it helps others understand their concepts and it can bring insight to a project.

 

BB: How do you choose and evaluate the photographers you exhibit?

MÜ: It´s important to us that we see that the photographer is serious about their career, that the have a vision of where they want their artwork to go, that they write about their ideas, have a cohesive portfolio where connection between concepts can be seen.

 

BB: Is it important that you connect with the work personally in order to show it?

MÜ: Definitely.

 

BB: You have created a unique program called Photo Credit to help buyers – please tell us about it.

MÜ: Photo credit is a new approach to buying and collecting photographic artwork. We understand the difficulties of putting aside a large amount of money for art, but we also know the importance of having works that connect and inspire. So we have a credit program that allows a person to buy artwork by paying comfortable and personalized monthly installments until they complete the total value.

 

BB: What advice do you have for new collectors and/or collectors who are acquiring photography for the first time?

MÜ: To acquire works that they connect with and to review the artist´s career and see more of their works. We have a free monthly class dedicated to this subject; you can sign up for them and get more information on our website.

 

BB: How significant is it for you to be showing someone like Francois Dolmetsch?

MÜ: Very significant, because this is a man that has more than 50 years of photographic experience and a very clear conceptual vision. He represents a generation of photographers that have contributed to making Colombian photography what it is today. Also because he is an interesting person, beyond his images and we value that greatly.

 

BB: Other than a technical education, what is important for new photographers to know from the out-set?

MÜ: Concept, the processing of their own ideas through different filters.

 

BB: What is your opinion of the Bogota Arts-scape? And what do you hope will happen over the next year?

MÜ: We love Bogotá´s Arts-scape; the only thing we think is missing is a stronger community within the galleries, art dealers and artists. It´s important that they are more connected so that we can all grow to be a Mecca of Latin American art.

 

BB: Are Colombian artists challenged in particular ways that North American and European artists aren’t?

MÜ: We think all artists are challenged regardless of their geographical location.

 

BB: What do you have planned for 2012?

MÜ: We have a fantastic selection of artists both national and international.

 

BB: What are some of the things you love most about Bogota?

MÜ: We love the energy of a city that is fighting to better itself, the amazing food, the vast cultural offer for different tastes, and our neighborhood, La Macarena.