A deeper look at the MAMM

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Samuel Escobar

MAMM building displays brutalist architecture style.

Samuel Escobar, Lifestyle Editor

As you arrive, a giant concrete structure with a distinctive brutalist design stands out among the same old brick buildings in El Poblado. Step inside, and prepare to be transported to a world of color, texture, and imagination.

The Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín (the MAMM) is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in modern art. Located near Ciudad del Río and la Regional, the museum features a collection of works presented in paintings, videos, recordings, photographs, and even objects altered or created by artists to convey different messages.

When I arrived, I first noticed the breathtaking brutalist architecture of the building. A short queue formed outside the entrance and I paid a $10.000.00 COP fee with a student discount, simply showing my student ID. From there, I entered the world of art and imagination.

View from the top floor’s balcony.

My friend and I decided to start from the top floor and go down from there. On the 4th floor is an extended balcony with a panoramic view of the whole city.

“One with nature” piece, displayed in the top floor.

Once inside, I was transported into the world of art and imagination. When we entered, we were greeted by a collection of artworks including paintings, historical artifacts, photographs, and pieces that took up an entire corner of the room. Immediately after stepping into the room, what we first saw were two giant nude paintings, which I did not really like, they seemed basic and meaningless. What I most liked about that room was a collection of black and white photographs depicting indigenous people. The pieces featured mostly indigenous children from the Amazon, surrounded by nature, meant to represent man and nature as one.

Even though I liked this piece, I did not really enjoy this room, I felt like most of the artworks were empty and senseless, since few of them actually proved skill and effort from the artist. 

Alvaro Herazo’s “Sealing off the Sea.”

Moving on to the second room, we were introduced to a collection of historical artifacts and objects, and newspapers from the time of Pablo Escobar, even though not all of them centered around Escobar. A piece that stood out to me was a photograph of an artist dumping cement bags into the ocean, with two cement bags piled up on the floor under the photographs. The piece was titled “Sealing off the Sea,” and sent a powerful message on “the futility of trying to change the unchangeable.”

On to the second floor, lay three giant paintings of tigers, each with a different color hue, painted by Marta Elena Vélez, one of the founders of the MAMM. Her works respond to different stages in her artistic career. During the 1980s, she was known for the representation of animals, which helped her to refer to the country’s reality, the growing wave of drug trafficking, and its aesthetics.

 

“Tigers,” by Marta Elena Velez.
“Bugs Bunny’s Delirium,” seen from ground perspective.

However, my favorite piece from that room was one titled “Bugs Bunny’s Delirium,” which was a bunny on the floor that, from the right perspective, seemed to be looking towards a carrot in the wall. In my opinion, the piece showed the importance of perspective and its effect towards any problem or situation. To see how the bunny was looking at the carrot, one had to lay on the floor and see from behind the back of the bunny, as if one were the bunny. Of course, we (my friend and I) were the only ones doing it, and all the people in the room looked at us with confusion and embarrassment.

As I left the museum, I noticed a small café called Ganso & Castor, where I sat down to enjoy the landscape. Sadly, the outside of the museum did not look like the image I had in my head from when I was little. The green park had deteriorated, and what used to be a beautiful view of the city, was now covered by obnoxious buildings around the museum. 

Luckily though, I was able to sit down and chat with my friend Manuela Salazar, with whom I enjoyed a delicious fresh-squeezed lemonade while we discussed about life in tranquility.

Even though for many, including myself, modern art may seem pointless or empty, the MAMM has several pieces worth admiring, offering a range of artworks with different ways of approaching them and powerful messages.