ArteAmericas Showcases Failed U.S. Policy in Central America
Visitors to this year's ArteAmericas can expect edgy works dealing with brutality, says Emilio Callejo, the art fair's vice president. "One of our exhibits focuses on the violence that follows civic activism in countries like Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador," he says.
"We will have an installation featuring bed sheets used by El Salvador's Mara Salvatrucha street gang, Sandinista posters, an artist who has tattooed autopsy lines on his body in case he gets murdered, and other powerful works." Organized by Miami curator and critic Janet Batet and Clara Astiasarán, the show represents 13 contemporary artists documenting the violence they encounter daily. Batet, who first thought of idea while visiting Central America three years ago.
"What struck me at the time was the quality of a postwar generation of artists whose works reflect the history of the region," Batet says. "Many of them are unknown outside of their homelands other than Regina Galindo and Ronald Moran who have international followings. But the others also work with the themes of poverty, violence and rampant corruption prevalent in the area since the '80s. I wanted to show how the U.S. has been responsible for some of the conditions currently existing there," Batet adds.
"Central America: Civism and Violence" features works by Mauricio Esquivel, Gabriel Galeano, Regina Galindo, Jonathan Harker, Walterio Iraheta, Lucia Madriz, Mauricio Miranda, Ronald Moran, Raul Quintanilla, Ernesto Zalmeron, and Danny Zavaleta, among others. The exhibit mostly includes video, photography, and installations.
Batet hopes to show how Central America has been plagued by aborted revolutions, liberalism and political opportunism that have devastated the region, plunging it into a cycle of wars, widespread poverty, chronic unemployment, and human trafficking between South America and the United States. She also hopes to focus attention on the exceptional quality of bleeding-edge work being produced there.
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Among works on display are an installation created from rice and beans by Costa Rica's Lucia Madriz riffing on unfair trade agreements between the U.S. and Central America.
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Also on view is an installation of discarded shoes by El Salvador's Walterio Iraheta collected from victims of wars and street crime. Yet another is an installation by Honduran Gabriel Galeano who filled 80 bags from the ashes of a prison in his homeland allegedly torched by authorities to teach jailed street thugs a lesson.
"During the '90s, U.S. immigration reform laws send many Los Angeles street gang members back to their homelands where they added to growing levels of violence in the area. You already had the ex Contras there who stayed after the war and didn't know how to do anything other than fighting.
"In many of these countries there are more private security forces than police on the streets which tells you about the level of corruption and lack of trust by the public in their civic institutions," Batet says.
She says that the show was made possible with the support of Museum of Contemporary Art and Design of San Jose, Costa Rica and the Central American Museum of Video art, MUCEVI.
The exhibit is on view at Arteamericas, Friday through Monday, at the Miami Beach Convention Center (1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach), The fair will also showcase painting, photography, sculpture, drawings, mixed media installations, and videos by over 300 artists from across the U.S. and Latin America.Tickets cost $12. Visit arteamericas.com.
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