The term “pornomiseria” was originally coined by Colombian filmmakers Carlos Mayolo and Luis Ospina in the 1970s to describe the proliferation of voyeuristic, amateur social documentaries being made in Colombia and other Latin American countries that exploited and packaged poverty and social problems to meet the increased demand for third-world cinema by European film festivals and television. In recent years, the term has enjoyed a resurgence within the context of contemporary art discourse in Colombia to critique art practices deemed exploitative and opportunistic in relation to the country’s complex social and economic problems. Michèle Faguet’s article will both examine the contemporary relevance of Mayolo and Ospino’s concept and describe the term’s historical origins through a close reading of primary sources and interviews with pertinent individuals.
Michèle Faguet is a freelance writer and curator living in Berlin. Previously she directed non-profit exhibition spaces in Mexico City (La Panadería); Bogotá (Espacio La Rebeca); and Vancouver (Or Gallery); and was assistant professor of art history and theory at the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá. Recent publications include “Soy mi madre: Conversation between Phil Collins and Michèle Faguet,” El Tiempo Celeste (Spring 2009); “Je est un autre: la estetización de la miseria,” Ensayos sobre Arte Contemporáneo en Colombia (Universidad de los Andes, 2008); and “El sueño de la razón que produce monstruos: On the Work of Javier Téllez” Afterall (Summer 2008). Faguet received an MA in art history from Columbia University in 1996.