This fascination with the particular, often hidden resonance of Bogotá—and Colombia, more generally—figures in others’ work of varying disciplines: The haunting photographs by Juan Fernando Herrán, 48, of abandoned architecture in the destitute outskirts of Medellín were shown in the last Venice Biennale; 34-year-old Mateo López’s sprezzatura drawings, meanwhile, are elaborate maps, including one of his cross-country trip by scooter, which he self-consciously titled Motorcycle Diaries. (“It was like Che’s, but without the attitude,” López said.) Because of its mountainous geography, Colombia has never been easy to traverse; plenty of Bogotanos have never seen much of the countryside.
The next night, I made my way to La Central’s grand opening featuring Mexican artist Yoshua Okón’s videos and photographs and local Mateo Rivano’s fantastic Henry Darger–esque landscapes and psychedelically hued wall tapestries. The gallery was packed with many young artists, and we all trooped north around 11 p.m. for an impromptu party at a riotous spot called El Coq, a crowded scenester bar built around a living tree. The DJ played a loud retro mix of disco, and save for the aguardiente that we liberally drank, the whole experience felt less South America than South Williamsburg. We toasted the success of the new gallery. “Now, Bogotá has everything,” one of the artists shouted back over the cries of salud! “Even hipsters.”