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Each night in September, flowing water and glittering gold will move in kaleidoscopic configurations across the iconic billboards of Times Square. Patrón Mono: Ríos Libres, Pueblos Vivos is the latest addition to Colombian artist Carolina Caycedo’s ‘Water Portraits’ series, a collection of work designed with the intention to reform our relationship to water and which follows the fate of waterways across North and South America.
Patrón Mono: Ríos Libres, Pueblos Vivos portrays the lower Cauca River canyon located in Antioquia, Colombia – a region currently impacted by the Hidroituango hydroelectric dam contingency, and where armed and environmental conflict overlap. The muleteers, fishermen, and artisanal miners of the region refer to the Cauca River as ‘Patrón Mono’ (Blonde Boss), because of its yellow color and the gold found in its waters and sands. As Caycedo explains, for the local community of residents and workers, the Patrón Mono is the best employer in the world as “it doesn’t set schedules, it never refuses to pay, and it always provides them with fish and gold.”
In Caycedo’s ‘Water Portraits,’ bodies of water are reimagined into living beings through mirrored abstractions and remixed images of rivers and waterfalls. The portraits are designed to grant autonomy to these waterways that have been colonized by humanity. They work to create a distinct identity for water by repositioning waterways as social agents within contemporary environmental conflicts. Caycedo’s ‘Water Portraits’ invites us to decolonize the natural landscape and reevaluate our relationship towards it.
Midnight Moment is the world’s largest, longest-running digital art exhibition, synchronized on over 90 electronic billboards throughout Times Square nightly from 11:57pm to midnight.