Santiago Reyes Villaveces, Sculpture, Abraaj RCA Innovation Scholar 2015 – 2017
Santiago has a BA in Fine Art from the University of Los Andes, Colombia. He is a cultural entrepreneur keen to create artworks that provoke critical thought to empower individuals and communities as agents of positive change.
He has previously exhibited his work in Brazil, Colombia and Italy and gained national recognition as a young emerging artist. Thus far, Santiago’s experiences have deepened his belief that art and innovative thinking can have a meaningful impact on society by extending to different sectors, spaces and media.
Santiago wants to contribute to Colombia’s transformation post civil-war. He believes the cultural sector will be key to developing the country. He is keen to continue his artistic and teaching roles post-RCA and would like to develop methods and international networks to enhance learning opportunities in Colombia’s schools and universities.
In Conversation with Santiago
Q: Tell us about your background.
A: My name is Santiago Reyes Villaveces; I’m from Bogotá Colombia. I studied art in Colombia and Brazil. After finishing my BA in 2009, I started working as an artist and as a teacher in Colombia. Prior to the Royal College of Art, I exhibited my projects in Colombia, Latin America and Europe.
I decided to study art when I was 17. Since that point, my personal and professional interests have been centred in developing a consistent and robust artistic career. A decisive moment in the process of starting my artistic practice was when I had my first public exhibition ‘Art in Theory’ in 2006. The ‘Art in Theory’ exhibition was significant because I experience the importance of understanding the creative process about a public and with the context where the show takes part. That is why in my practice the relations that the work establishes with the contexts and where it takes part are fundamental.
Q: What interests you when working on new projects?
A: My research is centered on a latent architectural sensibility that is evident in precarious structures; mostly visible in—but not limited to—everyday urban life in Latin American cities. The architectural mediations and structures of informal economies he addresses relate urban detritus, overlooked by-products of construction, and improvised temporary structures, underscoring a latent sophistication in anonymous ways of doing. The works that comprise the project are sculptures, drawings, and photographs that address different relations of temporal indetermination.
Q: Take us behind the scenes on your final project.
A: The project “Brujitas” is a research on a latent architectural sensibility that is evident in precarious structures; mostly visible in—but not limited to—everyday urban life in Latin American cities. For my degree show, I will present a ‘family’ of push cars made out of urban detritus and recycled ball bearings. ‘Brujitas’ (witches) is the popular name given to this type of cars in Colombia. The Brujitas are working tools in informal economies systems use to generate value in the mobility and transport of goods. These structures embody a form in which a sophisticated ‘simple’ structure articulates a way of assimilating and resisting the informal economies that arise in the voids of the ‘official’ economic system. The project activates these vehicles in the urban context of London (UK), Dubai (UEA) and Ambalema (Colombia) and their documentations will be shown in a series of photographs and a monitor with the video of the performative actions developed by the artist with the ‘Brujitas’.
Q: What is your most memorable experience in your two years as scholar and student at the RCA?
A: After the two MA years, my classmates and I have built a network of collaboration and dialogue; that is the most valuable element for me, they are a group of people who are now my friends, colleagues and point of reference. My fellow students have been my main engine for the development of my practice. In a nutshell, the two RCA MA years have profoundly enriched me in a positive way; from both a professional and personal point of view.
Q: What’s next?
A: As an artist, it is fundamental to have a vigorous exhibition program of activity. In October 2017 I will present my work in Frieze London art fair. For 2017 and 2018, I have scheduled shows across Europe and Latin America where I will present works developed during my RCA MA. Parallel to the exhibitions, in Colombia, I’m structuring a residency program with the art group Kandor 13, which seeks to generate an artistic project that has effect in the strengthening of the social tissue of the communities where the project will take part. I’m confident that the skills developed during my time at the RCA will provide the necessary means to develop my professional aspirations in the future.