Biography

Humberto Vélez

Panama, 1965

Works and lives between Manchester (UK) and Panama. He has also lived and worked in Havana, Barcelona, London and Rio de Janeiro. 
 
Velez’s performances, films, and installations actively explore the possibilities of working in collaboration with different people (artists and artisans, local communities, First Nation people, asylum and refugees, women groups, animal keepers, animal care workers or trainers, athletes, musicians, etc., and groups specifically assembled for the project) in different countries and cultures.
 
His artworks are conceived by what he calls “the ability to create aesthetics” for and with these groups, according to their lifestyles and circumstances, thereby managing different concepts and expressions of popular culture, power, and especially, ethics. The human relations on whom Vélez constructs his creative processes are as important as the outcome, be that a performance, a film, an installation, or a photographic memoir. For that Vélez calls his practice “Aesthetics of Collaboration.
 
In his work, as described by curator Gerardo Mosquera, “the community should be an active agent”; at the same time, his art also “interweaves personal memories, dreams, visions, and the determination to pretend to invent new worlds.” For this, the artist works with diverse media, ranging from the popular to the high-tech, from the traditional to the contemporary.
 
At the moment he is working in Super 8 film pieces that he presents independently and in performances, collaborating with musicians, dancers and non-artists. Also he continues with his collaborative performances, and working with first-nation peoples in art projects relating to cultural issues, ceremonies, and the contemporary arts.

Biography

Humberto Vélez has a Law and Political Sciences degree from the University of Panama. He was also awarded a scholarship by The Foundation of Latin American Cinema to study Filmmaking and TV in the International School of Cinema of San Antonio de Los Baños, Cuba, founded by Gabriel García Márquez.

He has had solo performance shows at the TATE Modern in London,  Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), among others, and participated in international art events, such as the Venice (2013 and 2015), Havana (2004, 2012 and 2015), Shanghai, Montevideo (2012 and 2014), Ireland and Liverpool Biennials, among others, and in many group shows. He created the farewell art event for Cornerhouse, Manchester, in 2015.

Vélez has been an artist-in-residence in Vienna (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Toronto (York Art Gallery University) and London (Triangle Arts Trust-Gasworks), Paris (Cité des Arts), Sheffield (ArtSpace), among many other cities.

He works as an artist, art professor, independent filmmaker, and art producer. In 2011 he founded VISITING MINDS (with Panamanian curator and art critic Adrienne Samos), an international forum based in Panama, devoted to art and education.

This idea of prefabricated art that has no respect for people is what I’m fighting against and where I disagree with institutions that already have an idea of what they want me to make. This is against art itself. It’s a very contemporary problem that we have to face: it’s about ethics and art

In 2013, the Art Gallery of York University published a bilingual book about his artwork, entitled Humberto Vélez: Aesthetics of Collaboration, with texts by Luis Camnitzer, Hans-Michael Herzog, Emelie Chhangur, Orlando Britto and Adrienne Samos.

 

Humberto Vélez (October 2016)