One of Nicolás Consuegra’s most emblematic pieces is Instituto de visión, an ongoing project that began in 2008. This series of photographs is a meditation on the unintentional persistence of commercial signs, which exist as modern hieroglyphics in the cityscape. The façades of these photographed buildings still bear the ghostly traces of their names or logos, or the signage of businesses that have moved elsewhere or have shut down. The signs themselves are no longer there—they have been removed or stolen, most of them melted down and sold as raw material. Time has erased these familiar landmarks, leaving shadows that are somehow more permanent than the originals.
Consuegra is well known for his interest in graphic design and architecture. In a recent project entitled Recursos (Resources) (2014) Consuegra revisited Instituto de visión with an intervention on the photographs, adding bronze letters that reimagine those once installed on the façades.
His ongoing interest in the ghost signs he finds in Bogotá and in other cities in Colombia also relates the artist’s own process. As he notes, “the term ‘recycle’ can either mean to reuse materials or to revise ideas and concepts one has worked on in the past.” The original signifiers (the signs) have been recycled, identified as a means of sustenance and converted back into a resource. Language also has changed form, the signs revealed as raw material that can mutate from a semantic into an economic asset.