Nelson Guzmán

Mapping coal Proyecto Nápoles

Biography Contact

In the late 1970s the rising Colombian cocaine king Pablo Escobar accomplished one of his earliest wishes when he acquired some lands over the Magdalena Medio region, between large cattle farmer fields and thick jungles, at the vast pass of the Magdalena River and next to the road that goes from Medellín to Bogotá. Right there, he situated and built the centre of his empire: the Hacienda Nápoles.

As soon as Escobar reached the height of power embodied in notoriety and prestige because of the drug-trafficking boom, the Hacienda Nápoles grew, hastily consolidated, and became known as a heavenly kingdom: outlandish and opulent. A surreal estate where there was rest, family celebration, fun, party, meeting, planning, negotiation, traffic, excess, and of course, war and death. During that time Escobar provided his domain with everything needed from comfort to luxury: including several houses, one of them being Pablo’s main house with a swimming pool and a jacuzzi, a party hall and dining room; a nightclub; a landing strip with hangar to house light aircrafts; heliports in strategic places; a garage where luxurious and vintage cars as well as motorbikes and hovercrafts were parked; a gas station; a football field; a bullring; some artificial lakes; a Jurassic theme park; stables and an exotic zoo filled with gaited horses, ponies, rhinoceros, camels, giraffes, hippopotamus, elephants, gnus, gazelles, deers, zebras, turtles, pink flamingos, ostriches and birds from all over the world. Hence, a golden age of abundance and opulence arrived, where the Hacienda Nápoles became the epicentre of an interested society, a unique phenomenon of richness admired and envied.

After Escobar’s death and the resulting fall of his empire, the now deserted Hacienda Nápoles fell immerse in a steady decline caused by the tropical rainforest force, as well as by the demolition and drilling of structures caused by Escobar’s enemies and some treasure hunters. Likewise, by the oblivion of a Country which refuses to keep a memory of its recent events.

Thus, Proyecto Nápoles makes a tour through the ruins of the huge kingdom planned and constructed by Pablo Escobar, nostalgia of a place once abundant in splendour and materialisms, saturated with myths and stories, flooded in extravagances. A project that reflects through photography and painting on a fall and lost paradise placed in the core of a violent environment.

NG - 2007