9 December 2020 – 24 February 2021
Façade du Grand palais
The Grand Palais has invited the Colombian artist Diana Velásquez to present her work “L’attente” (The Wait), composed of 10 canvases 5 m high by 2 m wide, directly on the columns of the façade of the Grand Palais on avenue Winston Churchill.
Taking advantage of the space between each column, the piece features a queue of people waiting, each keeping their distance from the person in front. “This work aims to make us consider the extent to which the pandemic has highlighted the precarity that we are all facing, but that affects the weakest first.
Martin Luther King said: ‘We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now’. This project seeks to remind us of some of the passengers in our boat, the elderly, and the wait they are facing in the midst of great uncertainty and, in many cases, great loneliness.” Diana Velásquez
After Sammy Baloji’s installation with two monumental sculptures as part of Africa 2020, and Nayel Zeaiter’s fresco telling the story of the Grand Palais on the fence around the construction site, Diana Velásquez’s piece allows the Republican monument to voice the most urgent and contemporary questions, thereby heralding the artistic ambition of the new Grand Palais, with creations that will be shown both inside and out.
“The Grand Palais cannot allow itself to be locked in the past. It is important to transmit history, but it is also essential to turn resolutely towards future generations and the issues they bring, issues that are now global. Sammy Baloji’s work on colonial heritage and Diana Velásquez’s on waiting speak to us of social crises around the world. After Bogotá, followed by Gijón in Spain, Diana’s work is being shown on the scale of a monument that becomes a story in itself, as its creators intended when adorning it with frescoes and sculptures.” Chris Dercon
Diana Velásquez was born in Bogotá in 1978. She now lives and works in Madrid, after studying the visual arts in Colombia and New York. Her work, using different media, questions the reality of efforts made to achieve the common good, particularly the deeply fractured social consensus and the rise of a demagoguery that seeks to tone down tensions rather than ease them. They narrate the misadventures that we call progress.
“Waiting and queuing are phenomena that have been growing incrementally as citizens’ well-being has been called into question. The long waiting lines show the difficulties society has in dealing with social, economic and health issues: these are like stopped clocks into which not only the concrete efforts of those waiting, but also their aspirations, anxieties and desires, have been thrown.
Sadly, waiting is not defined as the time it takes for a solution to arrive, but rather an indeterminate frontier that separates us from the successful outcome we are hoping for.
Modern society has grown used to waiting and queuing, sometimes for several days at a time, in order to access not only services or an administrative process, but simply to eat or buy something to eat, to flee war, seek asylum, or other necessities that condition and individual’s survival. Waiting puts our resistance to the test, it is a mechanism that falls into place inevitably the moment it becomes impossible to be proactive in the situation.
The current pandemic has represented a breakdown in our condition and our well-being. The entire population, without the distinction of race or age, has been taken out of action, as there was no way to avoid it.
We have had to wait for information, news, progress, measures, policies and now a vaccine. We have had to wait, in lockdown, meaning without the ability to do anything or to interact beyond our bubble.
We have and continue to have a conscious expectation that the new order does not make us disappear.”
Diana Velásquez’s work was selected in 2013 by the Circuitos de Artes Plásticas de Madrid (2013) – one of the most important prizes for artists aged under 35 in Spain –, by the Bolivia Biennial in 2016 and for the collective exhibition Paz en las mesas? (2019) at the Bogotá Museum of Modern Art. She has also taken part in the Hybrid Art Fair in Madrid (2017) and Poppositions Art Fair (2016) in Brussels. “L’Attente” was developed in Gijón as part of the AlNorte grant.