An inconspicuous house in Bogota is one of the most important homes for art in Latin America: In the «Laboratorio de artistas», Mapa Teatro has been producing interdiscplinary projects, films, theatre shows, installations and interventions since the mid-80s. The works of Mapa Teatro figure in different contexts – in 2005 and 2010, for example, on the stages of the Theater Spektakel, or in 2018, in the basement of the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid. The Spanish national museum is housed in a building which used to be a hospital during colonial times. At the time, the basement was a ward for patients who returned to their country with «tropical frenzy». Mapa Teatro created an installation of a mine in order to unearth the colonial history of the building as well as the history of gold. That precious metal coined Spain’s development and connects the former colonial power with Colombia, where gold is still mined under illegal and ecologically harmful ways. Mapa Teatro calls its technique «etno-ficción», which oscillates between documenting reality and poetic fiction.

The siblings Rolf and Heidi Abderhalden founded the «Laboratorio de artistas» in 1984. Since then, they have rigorously approached Colombia’s colonial heritage and violent present, based on different sources: literary texts, documentary material and their own fieldwork in the Amazon. The company often spends several years on work cycles, developing a topic which passes through numerous stages. Together with a group of companions, Mapa Teatro has developed a unique language, which continues to find touching images for the harsh reality of Colombia’s political life while impressing us with its diversity.

In order to convey this unique range of artistic expression, we have invited two different projects to this year’s festival. «La Despedida» is a visually stunning stage production, which concludes the cycle «Anatomía de la violencia» with a poetic and bizarre celebration in a guerrilla jungle camp. The second project works with material from the cycle «Los Incontados», which focuses on the proximity of celebration and violence in Colombia. Mapa Teatro has developed a new work for Lake Zurich, involving a boat, equally real and fictitious, which travels from Colombia’s Pacific coast all the way to the pier at Saffainsel.

Laboratorio de Artistas | Foto: Mauricio Esguerra