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Viki Ospina Photograph Collection

Identifier: Image Archive-Collection 81

Content Description

The Viki Ospina Photograph Collection consists of 489 images and 10 contact sheets that document the last thirty years of Colombia's twentieth century. This period was a turning point in the country's sociopolitical landscape. It was ushered in by the controversial presidential election of Misael Pastrana in 1970, which marked the end of the "Frente Nacional" (1958-1970), a period of alternating political power between the two main parties, Liberal and Conservative, which shut out opposing political voices and contributed to the escalating violence that marked Colombia's recent history. This period was preceded by what is known in Colombia's historiography as "La Violencia", marked by the assassination of presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in 1948, although the civil and political unrest throughout the country had been brewing, according to some scholars, since the 1930's. It allegedly came to an end in 1958, with the "Frente Nacional". Ospina's images capture the cultural landscape against which these struggles collide and shift into other forms of violence. Her images are a testament to a rich social and cultural milieu that challenges the idea of a monolithic nation traced from a central Andean core, which was foreign to the peripheral regions Ospina captured with her camera. In addition to the geographical tension visible in this collection, the photographer's commitment to documenting, year after year, not only major cultural events such as Carnival in Barranquilla, but also other lesser known but equally significant festivals and celebrations within the heterogeneous country that is Colombia, brings to the surface the possibility to question preconceived ideas of the urban/rural tension regarding Latin America, where "center" does not necessarily means "urban" and "periphery" does not necessarily means "rural". While capturing the political struggles of her period, Ospina shows flashes of how urban and rural lives may coincide in a country torn by these tensions.

This collection encompasses the phases that make up Viki Ospina's trajectory as one of Colombia's most versatile photographers. It offers glimpses not only of Ospina's time working with major news outlets such as Cromos, El Tiempo, El Espectador and Reuters News Agency, but also of her work with still photographs on documentary and fictional film projects, a phase during which she developed her signature style of working in narrative sequences. This is an important trait that can be traced through this collection, for it includes images from some of her most noteworthy achievements, such as a retrospective exhibition of her work at Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango (Bogotá, 1978); a photo essay of 143 images mounted in a cinematic sequence titled Miradas en el cruce de los tiempos (1985-1998), which documented the experiences of 28 representative actors of the Carnival in Barranquilla; an exhibition of 120 photographs titled "Arte fotográfico para un espacio de mucho público" (1994-1999), featured at El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá for 6 years, produced to evoke the creative energy, ethnic and geographic diversity of Colombia; and a photo essay titled El espíritu de la cultura cafetera, which documents daily life, traditional houses and landscapes of Colombia's coffee growing region.

The collection contains black and white and color negatives, contact sheets, slides, and photographs organized into 12 series: Carnival in Baranquilla; Celebrations in Mompox, Bolívar; Cumbia Festival; Vallenato Festival; Porro Festival; Celebrations on the Pacific Coast; Galleros; Occupations; Politics; Architecture; Regions; and Images from the Plaza de Mercado at La Concordia, Bogotá. Also included are photographs from the series that documents the "Plaza de Mercado de La Concordia," for which Ospina received the "Premio Nacional de Fotografía" of Colombia in 2019.


  • 1970-2002


Conditions Governing Access

Open to the public. No known restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Physical rights retained by the Latin American Library. Copyright held by the photographer, Viki Ospina.

Biographical / Historical

Viki Ospina was born in Barranquilla, Colombia (1948) and became one of the first female photojournalists in the country. Ospina documented the latter part of the twentieth century, including cultural events and major political activities that pushed Colombia into the twenty-first century. In 2019 she received the "Premio Nacional de Fotografía" in Colombia for her series "Plaza de Mercado de La Concordia," photographed during the 1970s. Viki Ospina lives and works in Bogotá, Colombia. See Viki's website for a fuller biography in her own words at:


496 Photographic Slides (1 O-ring clamshell binder box) : black and white and color negatives, contact sheets, slides, and photographic prints

Language of Materials

Spanish; Castilian


The materials are arranged as follows:

Series I. "Carnival in Barranquilla", 1985-1990, pp. 1-3

Series II. "Celebrations in Mompox, Bolívar", 1985-1997, pp. 4-5

Series III. "Cumbia Festival", 1980-1986, pp. 6

Series IV. "Vallenato Festival", 1985, p. 7

Series V. "Porro Festival", 1985, p. 8

Series VI. "Celebrations on the Pacific Coast", 1985, p. 9

Series VII. "Galleros", 1985-1992, p. 10

Series VIII. "Occupations", 1970-2002, pp. 11-27

Series IX. "Politics", 1970-1990, pp. 28-30

Series X. "Architecture", 1980-1997, pp. 31-39

Series XI. "Regions", 1975-1990, pp. 40-44

Series XII. "Images from the Plaza de Mercado at La Concordia, Bogotá", 1970's, pp. 45-46

Official Website of Viki Ospina

Vicki Ospina Photograph Collection
Photograph Collection 81, Image Archive, The Latin American Library at Tulane University
Aroldo Nery
July 25, 2019
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the The Latin American Library at Tulane Repository

7001 Freret Street
Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, 4th floor
Tulane University
New Orleans Louisiana 70118 US
(504) 865-5681