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The life of illusive transcultural mutant Dick Verdult reads like a Hunter S. Thompson, and his unbelievable story is told by Luuk Bouwmann in his film Dick Verdult: It Is True But Not Here. The Dutch artist Verdult has always been most comfortable within cultural margins.
In his adolescence, he and his family moved frequently from Guatemala to South Africa to accommodate his father’s job with telecom giant Phillips. He eventually went to university in France to study film, where his contemporaries — political revolutionaries — revealed a new world view to him. Though film is his first love, Verdult found his niche in installation art and was known for his creation of absurd landscapes.
But at 51, Verdult developed a new obsession: producing cumbia music. For those unfamiliar, cumbia is folk music made for dance floors. Birthed by slaves on the Caribbean Coast, it remains one of the most popular genres across the Latin American diaspora. When Verdult relocated to Argentina, he started making off-the-wall experimental cumbia productions he called “cumbias lunáticas,” which loosely translates to “crazy cumbias.” He took them a step further by developing complex fictional storylines regarding the genre’s origin. People loved the tracks so he went on the road, touring Argentina, Peru and Colombia under the name “Dick el Demasiado.” Demasiado translates to “too much,” and the documentary captures his approach to bizarre costumes and wild cumbias.
Though this film isn’t yet available on-demand, it’s currently traveling the festival circuit and will likely move to some streaming service. In the meantime, the trailer below is worth watching, and so is the track from his album Sin Pues Nada. Called “Sábado Cultural,” it’s an excellent representation of Verdult’s glitchy take on Cumbia.