At a time when so much feels out of our control, Catalina Arroyave Restrepo’s feature debut Los días de la Ballena (Days of the Whale) feels like a rebellion against hopelessness. Cristina (Laura Tobón Ochoa) and Simon (David Escallón Orrego) — two young graffiti artists in Medellín, Colombia — are madly in love with each other and their work. Part of an art collective run by Lucas (Carlos Fonnegra), the two become swept up in anti-gang protests. An ever-escalating turf war inspires Cristina and Simon’s to dream up their greatest collaborative work yet — a tribute to Cristina’s mother, a journalist who fled Colombia after being targeted by gang members.
Throughout, Arroyave Restrepo captures the youthful zeal of her two main characters’ love and creativity, while also acknowledging that many who perpetuate the cycle of violence they live with are in fact former classmates — kids who grew up playing together and now stand ready to tear each other down. Flashes of magical realism punctuate the film, as a real-life whale (an animal associated with Cristina’s mother) disrupts the urban environment.
For the artists, the collective’s home base is not just a haven for creativity, but a place to develop their respective voices, ones even Lucas can’t reign in. He fears their newfound independence and anger against the system will lead to retribution. Ultimately, he’s right — power rarely cedes easily. But even when violence looms, art offers the pair an ability to fight back, making Los días de la ballena (Days of the Whale) an empowering testament to the need for self-expression.
Los días de la ballena (Days of the Whale) (2020), dir. Catalina Arroyave Restrepo is now streaming in virtual cinemas.
Join Hyperallergic for an online conversation with Kiowa Tribal Museum Director Tahnee Ahtone on January 25 at 7pm (EST).
This week, Patrisse Cullors speaks, reviewing John Richardson’s final Picasso book, the Met Museum snags a rare oil on copper by Nicolas Poussin, and much more.
Graduate students in the University of Denver’s Emergent Digital Practices program work on research with faculty who are engaged directly with their communities, both online and off.
Alexi Worth’s paintings demand a double take that allows viewers to look closer and begin dissembling the painting in order to understand what is being looked at.
Anastasia Pelias’s sculpture builds on this mythological legacy, suggesting we all have the ability to commune with a higher power and influence our futures.
Curated by Jill Kearney, this exhibition in Frenchtown, NJ amplifies stories both local and universal with work by Willie Cole, Sandra Ramos, sTo Len, and more.
Jack Spicer’s poetry can be deeply funny and playful but it has a consistent undercurrent of sadness.
Belinda Rathbone’s biography traces the sculptor’s embrace of kinetic mechanisms to his work in the Singer Sewing Machine factory.
The first lecture is on the relationship between early portrait photography and diverse notions of US identity during the Gilded Age. Register to attend on January 25.
It’s the first time in the country’s history that objects of this significance are offered for public sale.
Schwartz was at the forefront of computer-generated art before desktops or the kind of software that makes it commonplace today.
Curator La Tanya S. Autry shares a set of crucial questions she considers when curating images of anti-Black violence.