Maria José Arjona: Your Are Splendid! 31th January – 28 th March 2016


An exhibition, performance and workshop Project
Curator: Julia Draganović in collaboration with Christel Schulte
31th January – 28 th March 2016
Press briefing: Thursday, 28 January, 11 am
Opening: Sunday, 31 January, 11 am
Maria José Arjona: Your Are Splendid!

Two swings float through the former nave of the Kunsthalle. A nest of cotton, shadowplay of a corkscrew hazel, bird calls and a performance artist in plumage who is drawing with tobacco: the exhibition “You are Splendid!” is the outcome of a research project lasting more than two years that the Columbian artist Maria José Arjona has dedicated to the world of birds in her Latin American home and that will keep changing until the end of the exhibition in March.

Arjona’s observations of migratory birds began in New York, the most northerly point of the hemisphere in which the artist from the equatorial region has ever lived.

Osnabrück is devoting the first ever solo museum exhibition in Europe to the performance artist!

The exhibition project was developed by the Kunsthalle Director Dr Julia Draganović and Christel Schulte (head of Education) in cooperation with the Columbian curator José Roca. Roca directed the Latin American department of the Tate Modern in London from 2012-15 and is now artistic director of FLORA ars+natura in Bogota.

Maria Josè Arjona: Second Messenger, Part of Sighting

The photo (see above) shows the artist in an act of self-stylisation as bird creature, with plumage and headgear reminiscent of the falcon’s hood. Smoking tobacco is for her an act of spiritual cleansing. With the shadowplay on the wall she calls attention (very much in the Platonic sense) to the essence of cognition and communication.

The performance project opening on 31 January at  Kunsthalle Osnabrück bears strong autobiographical elements. The impulse for the project “You Are Splendid” came to Maria José Arjona through an encounter with a birdwatcher in Central Park in New York. She started up an intensive exchange with the scientist; he enlightened her to the fact that she was not the only creature roaming almost invisibly through the streets of New York who was actually from the tropical rain forest: the migratory birds of her home country share a common migratory route along the north-south axis of the two Americas with thousands of Latin American migrants. The birdwatcher fascinated her because of the calm and patience with which he pursued his activity.

The Storyteller
For someone who like Arjona grew up with the magic realism of Latin American literature, the poetic parallels between birds and migrants are obvious: Maria José Arjona transposes her personal stories and those of all the people who roam through foreign countries, climate zones and cultures, into images and drawings, objects, sounds and melodies, videos, performances and installations.

Visitors to the exhibition in Osnabrück can expect an exhibition, performance and workshop programme which, in materialising the concept of the “School of Empathy” developed in collaboration with Christel Schulte (head of communication in the Kunsthalle Osnabrück), unfolds ever-multiplying levels of meaning. The exhibition opens up new perspectives onto things that are seemingly familiar, habituates the ear to so much that is overheard, and draws attention as much to the small and the great miracles as to the terror and anxiety ensuing from the migration movements of our time.

Maria José Arjona names her performance process “Sighting” (Spanish “avistamiento” – her view of the project can be seen on Tumblr: []


The exhibition, performance and workshop project

The exhibition “You Are Splendid” is integrated into a performance process that lasts until the end of the exhibition on Easter Monday. Maria José Arjona ceaselessly reconstructs and reinstalls, configures new interrelations, in which she presents a different performance each weekend in February. Visitors and other artists are invited to co-create, co-conceive and co-experience. She can be encountered in the Kunsthalle at various times from 31 January until 9 March 2016.


Sunday, 31 January, 11 am – 6 pm
Flight Plan. First meeting, a display and a tableau vivant.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday 5-7 February, 4 pm each day
The Second Messenger. A tobacco ritual for spiritual cleansing and knowledge enhancement.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday 12-14 February, 2 pm – 6 pm each day

Life. A meditative sound performance.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday 19-21. February, 2 pm – 6 pm each day
A Little Bird Told Me. An invitation to be all ears.

Reservation required, telephone 0541-323 2190 or

Friday, Saturday, Sunday 26-28 February, 12 pm – 6 pm each day
Migration. A moment of leisure and talk for everyone who wants to venture on a stopover in the Kunsthalle.

Free admission!

Friday, 4 March and Sunday, 6 March
Flight. A poetic group performance about the magic and effort inherent in taking-to-the-air.


Maria José Arjona: First guest Facebook poster of the Kunsthalle Osnabrück

The genesis of the project can currently be followed on the Facebook page of the Kunsthalle Osnabrück until the opening.  Maria José Arjona is the first Facebook guest poster [#‎guestposter] of Kunsthalle Osnabrück. It’s well worth visiting the Facebook page of the Kunsthalle Osnabrück from time to time.


Maria José Arjona was born in Bogota/Columbia in 1973 and lives and works in the USA and Bogota. She is a performance artist. She concentrates on long-term practices that use artistic means to explore process-oriented concepts, the memory and physical capabilities.
Her performances and projects have been shown in museums and galleries in South America, Europe, Asia and the USA, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York (as performer in re-enactments for the exhibition “The Artist is Present” by and with Maria Abramović), in the Madre Museum Naples, during the Marrakesh Biennale and Irregular Hexagon in Singapore and Israel (curated by Jose Roca), as part of “do it” (Hans Ulrich Obrist) and in the National Salon in Medellin (COL). Her first solo exhibition “But I am The Tiger” in Columbia was organised by Mor-Charpentier in Bogota and curated by Eugenio Viola. In 2014 Arjona was invited by Jose Roca to develop “Avistamiento” as part of the  FLORA ars+natura Residency Programme, which is now being merged into a long-term project and further developed in the Kunsthalle Osnabrück.

The works of Maria José Arjona have been included in many public and private collections in the USA; China, Europe and South America and were reviewed in Art Agenda, Art Nexus, Arte Al Dia, the New York Times, the Guardian UK, Whitewall Magazine, the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, and more.


Further exhibition venues: The Bass Museum (FL), El Museo Del Banco De La Republica (COLOMBIA), Location One (NY), Third Guangzhou Triennial (CHINA), The Ballroom Marfa (TX), Miami Art Museum, Exit Art, Fred Snitzer Gallery (FL), Museo De Arte Moderno (COLOMBIA), Museo Del Chopo (MEXICO),  El Museo Del Barrio (NY), Haus der Kulturen der Welt, (Berlin), Watermill Center (NY), IN-TRANSIT (GERMANY), Museum Of Contemporary Art Of Medellin (COLOMBIA) Hillger Contemporary (VIENNA), Volta (NY), ART FIRST/ARTE FIERA, (Bologna), Galeria ALCUADRADO (COLOMBIA) and Valenzuela & Klenner Gallery (COLOMBIA).


Maria José Arjona: Guesting for the second time in the Kunsthalle Osnabrück
Dr. Julia Draganović  has been working together with Maria José Arjona since 2010. The following interview with the New York radio station “Clocktower” emerged from the project “Tell Me a Story Because I Can't Sleep” as part of a show with “No longer Empty” in New York.


Maria José Arjona is already a well known figure to the Osnabrück public: during the exhibition “Was für ein Fest?” (What Kind of a Celebration?) in spring 2015 she showed the works “Karaoke” and “Habito”. In “Karaoke” she sang Edith Piaf’s chanson “Non, je ne regrette rien”. Piaf dedicated the song at the time to the French Foreign Legionnaires in the Algerian War. Maria José Arjona invited visitors to the Kunsthalle to join in this hymn to life to the point of exhaustion.

The Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung accompanied the project; here is an interview with the director:


Nor is the Osnabrück public likely to forget the performance “Habito” (Spanish for “dress” and “I dwell”). For this performance Maria José Arjona wore a dress made of candies. The visitors were invited in a liturgical-type ritual to pick off “their” part of the enticing wrapping. Sweet fragrances gradually filled the sanctuary of the former Dominican church, and the performer’s dress unfolded its design.

The report in the NOZ:

The annual programme of the Kunsthalle is organised in cooperation with the Friends of the Kunsthalle Osnabrück e.V. and supported by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture.

“You Are Splendid” is organised as part of a research network for artistic practices in partnership, to which the Kunsthalle Osnabrück has belonged since 2014. Besides the Kunsthalle Osnabrück, the following partners are listed in the CAPP Collaborative Art Partnership Programme: Agora (Berlin), Create Ireland (Dublin) Hablar en Arte (Madrid), Heart of Glass (Liverpool), LADA Life Art Development Agency (London), Ludwig Museum (Budapest), M-Cult (Helsinki, Tate Liverpool) . From 2014 to 2018 CAPP is being sponsored by the EU programme Creative Europe.

“You Are Splendid!” is supported by a grant from the ifa-Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations.
The Kunsthalle Osnabrück has detailed information material available for the background education and communication programme “In Your Shoes”. Contact partner is Christel Schulte.