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About ARCAPACHA

ARCAPACHA is a small, traditional working farm in Colombia that now has a residency center to host artists and writers, or to serve as a field station for researchers in the natural, agricultural and social science disciplines. Our facilities provide an inspiring yet relaxed venue for your creative work, with practical support from people who directly understand the requirements of professional artists.

Our farm is primarily an organic cacao plantation, and we also cultivate passionfruit, mango, papaya, and some citrus, as well as vegetables. These are all watered by two natural streams in the midst of a beautiful variety of flower and bird species. An ancient stone pathway that runs through the farm is part of the "Caminos de Herradura" stone trails which are still used and maintained. At an altitude of 900 meters above sea level, the climate offers gentle comfortable weather all year round.

ARCAPACHA is owned by the Bernal-Caicedo family, which has a long tradition in art, agriculture and hospitality. With the help of local workers, the family converted the farm from coffee to cacao while protecting the old trees and the traditional landscape typical of coffee plantations. They diversified the farm to include its current crops, and also added small-scale fish farming.

Day-to-day management and services are led by German Bernal-Caicedo and Netta Varga, both artists. The project benefits from the direct collaboration of German's sisters Rosa in Italy and Angela in Canada, along with Angela's husband Joseph Potvin, and their son Julian Potvin-Bernal, the webmaster. The contact in Finland is Toni Ledentsa, a curator and producer who contributes to the project.

We are located adjacent to Yopal, a small village in the forested mountains of the Tolima region, 130 kilometers south of Bogota, the Colombian capital. Yopal is a village of fewer than twenty houses and about 70 people. The local population lives from small scale agriculture, mainly crops such as cacao and fruit trees, and some livestock. The people of the area are open and friendly, but they have low incomes and have little access to development initiatives. There is a small elementary school where children of different ages learn in the same room. Many years ago this area had a larger population and active regional market, but this declined in the eighties when young people sought work in the cities and the eastern plains.

We invite guests to explore the region and its people.


About the Hosts:


German began his art career in the early 1980s with photographic studies at Taller5, Bogotá, Colombia. When in his 20s he moved to Germany where he enrolled to study painting, photography and video in the Faculty of Design, Media and Information, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences between 1985 and 1987. During that period he developed a successful micro-business designing and producing patinated metal jewelry. He continued in fine arts at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, The Netherland’s, where he developed his painting and multimedia portfolio. Since then he has made a living as a professional multi-media visual artist. He has done many exhibits, solo and with other artist in European countries as well as in his native Colombia. He has received artistic awards, including for a mural commissioned by Colour Cruise Lines, Oslo, Norway (2007); Sandrawings videos at the 1000 OCCHI Film Festival, Trieste, Italy (2005); the Kunstenaars & Co. Video Award, City of Amsterdam (2004), as well as a two year working grant from Fonds Van Beeldende Kunst, Amsterdam (2002). German's solo exhibitions include "Tappaa Aikaa" at the Jangva Gallery, Helsinki, Finland (2008); "Portraits" at the Miela Teather Gallery, Trieste, Italy (2005); "Fabulas" at the Torbandena Gallery, Trieste, Italy (2004); and, "Poste Restante" at the 3B Gallery, Trondheim, Norway (1998)

Netta is a professional dancer, choreographer and a yoga teacher. In 1998 she received a diploma in the 4-year modern theater dance education program from the Theater School of Amsterdam, with a focus on modern dance techniques, drama and choreography. During an exchange program to the School of New Dance Development, she studied release technique and contact-improvisation. She has performed and instructed in several European countries. Since 2006 she completed the 500-hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training Program at the Svaha Yoga Studio in Amsterdam, where she also taught Hatha Yoga classes. In 2007-2008 she was invited to manage the dance department of the Dance High School of Vaskivuori, Finland, and to teach contemporary dance. During that time she also taught several groups of teens at a private dance school in Vantaa, Finland. In 2009 she performed under Finnish choreographer Liisa Risu. In 2010 Netta will be teaching dance and theater workshops for young adults in La Casa Del Teatro in Bogota, Colombia, and will appear at both the Full Moon Dance Festival, and the Zodiak Center for New Dance in Helsinki.