Bottle after bottle, the smiling face of Colombian writer and Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Gabriel García Márquez, takes shape. This installation by the artist Eduardo Butrón was made in Cartagena using recycled glass bottles from garbage and rivers, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of obtaining the prestigious award.
For its preparation, Butrón used nearly 10,000 bottles of water, spirits or soft drinks, allowing the figure of García Márquez to be appreciated from above with his thick glasses and open smile. Some of the bottles were collected by residents of Henequén, a popular neighborhood in Cartagena that emerged from what used to be a landfill. Others were donated by different restaurants and bars in Cartagena, the city where Gabo lived for much of his life.
The installation has been exhibited since last Friday at the headquarters of the Government of Bolívar, located on the outskirts of the city of Cartagena.
Although the tribute to Gabo is important, for Eduardo Butrón the process seems to be more relevant than the final result. The 58-year-old artist places more value on the places where the bottles were recovered, which include polluted mangroves, rivers and beaches. The entire process took a month to collect the bottles, and three days to complete the installation.
In that order of ideas, the work seeks to send a clearly environmentalist message and care for the environment. “Together we can start working to keep our environments healthy, our rivers and seas clean,” Butrón told AFP.
The figure of the writer who immortalized the Colombian Caribbean region in universal literature was the ideal vehicle to give his message the desired impact. The author of works such as ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’, ‘The Colonel has no one to write to him’, ‘The Leaf Storm’ or ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’, among many others, passed away in 2014 leaving a legacy of novels and stories that they give life to that ‘magical realism’ with which the work of the telegraph operator’s son from Aracataca has always been identified. That is why the artist does not hesitate to point out that there is “nothing more Colombian, nothing more Caribbean, nothing more folkloric and nothing that represents us more than García Márquez”.
It should be noted that Butrón has worked for 35 years collecting waste to turn it into artistic montages that meet the premise of generating a message about caring for the environment and the environment.
Many of the bottles come from the banks of the Magdalena River. Butrón recalls that in Gabo’s works such as ‘Love in times of cholera’ or the autobiographical ‘Vivir to tell it’, the Magdalena is the protagonist. There the writer, says Butrón, “narrates those journeys along the river, those immense beaches where he could see herons, wild ducks, alligators. A glorious past of flora and fauna”.
Today the panorama is very different. According to academic research, more than 70% of the river is at risk of erosion due to accumulated pollution. In this regard, Butrón points out:
“Not only do we have contamination with solid waste. Also with black water (residual), illegal fishing and mining that throws too much mercury into the waters and poisons animals “
The outcome of the Magdalena, in the words of the artist, would have its own page in the narrative world of García Márquez in which tragedy disrupts magical places.
“It is so absurd, so Macondian, unlikely things happen (…) as well as that garbage that we are witnessing at this time.”
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Gabriel García Márquez received a unique tribute with glass bottles in Cartagena