Juan Pablo Baene | The Dance of the Coyongos


July 12 – August 19, 2022

Those who live it are those who enjoy it (Quien lo vive, es quien lo goza).

–Barranquilla’s Carnival slogan

Artist Statement

The Dance of the Coyongos is based on a folkloric dance that has the same name and originates from the Monpox region in Colombia. Dating back to 1812 after Colombian independence, the dance is now part of the carnival in Barranquilla, the second largest carnival after Rio. Involving several characters, the dance brings forward clear environmental and political meaning.

In the dance, there are the Coyongos: giant dancing bird puppets that represent the wader birds from the region and symbolically represent the indigenous and Black communities as well as the Criollos.* There is also the hunter, representing Spanish colonialism, who wears a hat and carries a gun. And then there is the fish who represents the land, resilience, and survival.        

The Coyongos that I bring to Planthouse are a festive way to explore color, celebration and the unique and collective history and stories of the birds.   

El Hombre Caiman. There are a lot of stories that claim to be the origin of this mythological creature. In my opinion, El Hombre Caiman represents one of the most notorious and fun symbols of the carnival and of Colombian POP culture. It has roots in indigenous bestiary and fertility which overtime mixed with popular imaginary and religious festivities.  In addition, it can be linked to a comedian who uses music and pop folklore in stand-up comedy shows.

*Criollo: a person of pure Spanish descent born in Spanish America but without the same rights of a European born. 

Carnival is Baene's first exhibition with Planthouse.

Planthouse, 55 West 28th, Street, New York, NY 10001



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