“Es Nadia, es La Fulminante ¿Y qué?”
(This is Nadia, this is La Fulminante, so what?)
La Silla Vacía By Olga Lucía Lozano. July 28, 2013
The link for this interview was deleted.
She is an activist, or as she calls herself a “high-colored anarchist” who believes there are thousands of creative ways to communicate and no need to rely on the old proven formulas. She is an artist, even if for 8 years she has been having trouble accepting that part of her nature and dealing with the ways in which the artistic stratum defines the rules of the game. The aesthetic language she uses is aggressive and provocative which turns out to be refreshing amidst a universe that is every time a little more standardized towards accepted subtleness and correctness.
Her name is Nadia Granados. She is the woman who —from time to time—subverts public spaces in order to talk about politics, corrupted power, democracy and many other subjects. She might do this by performing as an erotic ballerina, a female, sexy version of Santa Claus, or the overused stereotype of the sexy, hot Latina that many have wanted and currently want to reach. She is the woman who arrives with a suitcase — which holds every technical tool she needs — and starts her Cabaret performances in indoor venues which become a mix between spectacle and political reflection. But she is also La Fulminante. She is the character. She is the artist who found a privileged place in the internet, and thanks to that place – using a hybrid language that moves between politics and eroticism, and that employs some of the rules of porn video chats – she’s been able to delve deep into subjects such as the health system, forced displacement, and the Colombian power system.
This is the first thing to take into consideration: Nadia Granados is La Fulminante, but not everything she has created as an artist has to do with La Fulminante – the character that has placed her image on thousands of screens in Colombia and abroad. Sometimes in the streets, sometimes in indoor venues, Nadia Granados always confronts her public and offers performances in which she blends elements of Cabaret. On the other hand, La Fulminante lives for the website and finds her “raison d’être” in that fragile but emotional bond created from one computer to the other.
Before and After
Even if she had studied Arts in the National University (Universidad Nacional) for many years, Nadia moved away from artistic production and worked closely with different “social movements”, as she calls them. As part of the left-wing she worked in posters, flyers and other pieces that helped her support the causes in which she believed.
But that world soon proved too small for her. It’s not like Nadia has abandoned her ideological convictions – which are not currently associated with any specific party or movement — but rather her artistic gene needs to be expressed in more creative and contemporary languages.
It’s precisely because of her past that Nadia refers to her work not only in artistic or poetic terms. She defines herself as someone who communicates and who found in performance and video art better tools to analyze, criticize and narrate what happens in countries like ours –always taking into consideration a power perspective. Her work deals not only with purely political facts and decisions but also with issues such as the ways in which we conceive relationships between women and power and women and media; it even deals with issues such as learned schemes on love and eroticism.
There’s not much left in Nadia’s current work from those initial videos in which she – in many cases being part of a collective work — did a parody of songs such as “Gasoline” (Gasolina) by Daddy Yankee. The act of returning to her own language and reencountering her most intimate instincts has helped Nadia to consolidate an artistic language that combines irony, humor and provocation.
On Provocation and “soft” porn
It was during that process of reencounter with the arts and with herself that Nadia made a decision: To work alone. It was that decision that allowed her to shape her work as Nadia Granados and also to construct La Fulminante: The character that has made of Nadia a referent of contemporary performance and video art.
Resembling, in some aspects, the way in which transmedia storytelling is conceived — a message made out of content pieces that are communicated through diverse platforms, but that altogether form an articulated narrative — Granados put La Fulminante in the walls of Bogota, in the website www.lafulminante.com and, in some cases, she also appropriated other people’s discourses which had been broadcast by other media in order to fill up her character with different contents.
Furthermore, Granados takes elements that use the language of other media and puts them in the context of power and politics. This is why when entering www.lafulminante.com many people believe they’ve reached a porn website and they close it: La Fulminante’s aesthetic and body language, the props she uses to convey sexual symbols, and the fact that the character speaks in different languages and not in Spanish, all this reminds one of the online porn universe.
However, even if from time to time her videos are banned or censored (even a youtube video for using the word “ibuprofen” when criticizing the Colombian health system), Nadia is very emphatic when she says that what she does is not porn; in her performances she might stage sometimes the prelude, but never the explicit sexual choreographies.
Beyond the textual discourse, La Fulminante is a woman who resists. She is the one who appropriates stereotypes about women and uses them in order to look in the eye of some of the most outrageous and painful issues of Colombian present history. She is also the one who manages to assemble so many discourses in one piece that one could spend hours watching each video and reading the various messages derived from each soundtrack, each subtitling process, each gesture, each element of the set design, and each prop.
When we understand this particular feature of La Fulminante we grasp why this is an individual work that could have never worked as part of a collective. Because the process undertaken by Granados is one that uses improvisation and action as points of departure, she then analyzes the sounds and gestures of La Fulminante in order to generate the subtitles in which there is a narration on the subject or the discourses of others. In the end, Nadia creates, films herself, assembles, edits and publishes; in each phase of the process there is an element that proves fundamental for the final work.
By overseeing the whole process she has been able to generate a broad production in a relatively short period of time. When some people comment on the possibility that so much material produced by La Fulminante might exhaust the character, the artist’s reply is simple but clear: “If after 20 years el Chavo del Ocho wasn’t exhausted, why would that happen to La Fulminante?”
The incendiary explosion
The birth of La Fulminante has old roots. In fact, Nadia believes that many of the subjects and aesthetics she explores with this character have always attracted her and that by the age of twenty she had already discovered that La Fulminante – in the same shape that it was later known – lived in her. However, the key factor when shaping the DNA of La Fulminante as it is now known, was the popularization of the Internet. Conceiving La Fulminante as a character who lives in the digital world has allowed Granados to avoid the virus of “approvalitis,” as she likes to call the need to wait for approval of others in order to exhibit an art work – it was this “virus” that had kept Granados away from the art world. Following the Internet dynamics, Nadia Granados’ work is conceived as a creative project that doesn’t need the approval of a curator or a gallery in order to be exhibited. Just as it happens with purely digital artists, the work goes straight to the audience and it’s the users who decide whether they want to see it or not.
This new way of putting the work into circulation not only implies a critical position in regards to the traditional ways of circulating the artwork, but also opens up the possibility of reaching a much broader audience. As Nadia points out, there’s not a single gallery in Colombia that receives 40 or 50 thousand visits for one show, but in the Internet this number of visits – even double that – could be easily reached by certain video art pieces. Of course you also have videos that only reach 200 hundred visits, but in any case that’s the same number of visitors that one could find at any opening in a gallery.
Living in and for the Internet has allowed La Fulminante’s message to reach thousands of people that would never attend a museum or a traditional gallery. In the same way, the work done by Nadia Granados on the streets draws the attention of hundred of pedestrians that are not even interested in the subjects she deals with. Ultimately, her work is not conceived as sacred and untouchable, only to be seen and appreciated in silence by a group of intellectuals, but rather as something that should reach everybody, even those who believe – as the artist points out — that there is a right way to do performance art, that the valuable performances are only those minimal pieces in which the artist remains static for half hour, staring into space and surrounded by white surfaces.
It’s clear that these elements are not abundant in Granados’ proposal and that they are not at all present in La Fulminante as a character. It is also clear that neither can we find elements of what is traditionally associated with the feminine and the political, but in the end it is precisely this that makes of Granados’ artistic proposal a gust of vigor amidst so much silence and correctness formulas. In the end, who can demonstrate that obscenity is not a feature of the feminine and politics are not a porn exercise?
For those who are interested:
In the upcoming weeks Nadia Granados will offer a performance in Bogota. The date is still to be determined since the permits for the use of the selected public space have not yet been awarded. We will inform you of the date as soon as we have it.
If you want to check Nadia Granados’ complete work go to: