Oscar Frasser: Afrodescendientes Colombianos

My first visit to San Basilio de Palenque, in Colombia, was indescribably magical. Ironically, I learned about this place during a conference in New York. I felt a little embarrassed that I had never known about this important part of Colombian history. This inspired my search for this place: a place with its own language (known to linguists as Palenquero), music, culture and traditions.

The village is inhabited by descendants of the Maroons, runaway black Africans. They fought for more than a century against the cruelty of slave owners in Cartagena de Indias, considered to be the main port of entry during the time of African slave trade in America. San Basilio de Palenque traces its origins to the second half of the seventeenth century, when the descendants of black Africans, the authorities of Cartagena as well as those representing the Spanish monarchy entered into a treaty that would appease the tensions. After numerous meetings and the spilling of much ink and blood, the Palenqueros of San Basilio were finally able to settle on circumscribed territory and built a unique world, parallel to that of the Spaniards.

The photographs in this exhibit are but an excuse to expose other cultures to another aspect of the rich heritage found in Latin America. We shall witness through this photographic journey day to day life in San Basilio. In its characters one may find identities both fragmented and whole, fixed or ever changing, simultaneously immediate and remote, familiar as well as bathed in mystery: unique, but somehow universal. Colombian born Oscar Frasser has been photographing in excess of ten years. His works have appeared in many group shows in New York, Colombia and Cuba. He has received numerous honors and awards for his efforts. El Taller is pleased to present him in his first solo exhibition in New York.