Artists: José Castrellón, Óscar Figueroa, Group Material, Regina José Galindo, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Andreas Seikmann, Michael Stevenson, Humberto Vélez.
A Chronicle of Interventions
May 2 – July 13, 2014
Tate Modern’s Project Space presents the exhibition A Chronicle of Interventions, a curatorial-collaboration between Tate Modern in London and TEOR/éTica in San José, Costa Rica. The exhibition explores the multiple histories of intervention that have occurred throughout Central America during the 20th century through the work of eight practicing artists who each address various foreign, economic, political and military interventions which have shaped the region.
Harking back to 1980s New York, during the Reagan-Thatcher era, the exhibition begins with an archival display of the seminal installation by Group Material, entitled Timeline: A Chronicle of US Intervention in Central and Latin America, the work was originally installed in New York’s PS 1 Gallery in 1984, when Central America was in the spotlight of political and economic debate in the West. Fast forward thirty years and the exhibition returns to this history of intervention and its consequences, through the work of contemporary artists who chronicle related historical episodes, accounts and phenomena.
Two of the films found on display refer back to U.S. colonialism in Panama and more specifically to the building of the Panama Canal. Humberto Vélez focuses on the metaphor of the subjected human body and the representation of power and strength over a nation, while Michael Stevenson explores the probability of reality and fiction under the context of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties in 1977—which promised the handover of the Canal Zone to the Central American country.
The works of Óscar Figueroa and Andreas Siekmann separately address the existence of a mono-cultural economy based almost exclusively on the extraction of bananas and coffee and the impact that international corporations such as the United Fruit Company have had on the natural and social landscape of much of this region. The performance work of Regina José Galindo confronts the torrid history of Guatemala and its hidden genocide. Her explorations of unequal power relations often expose the violent consequences that regularly result from political and economic interventions.
This exhibition also explores the effects that external intervention can have on cultural aesthetics and social behaviour. This includes examples of both the infiltration and appropriation of contemporary ‘Western culture’ in remote indigenous communities, as seen in the work of José Castrellón and the imposition or adaptation of international architectural styles, which are boldly displayed and eventually destroyed during the performance work of Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa.
A Chronicle of Interventions is curated by Shoair Mavlian (Tate Modern) and Inti Guerrero (TEOR/éTica)