Sol Calero recreates a fictional Venezuelan currency exchange station for Art Basel 2016.
Presented by Laura Bartlett Gallery in the fair’s Statements section, Sol Calero‘s installation addresses issues of place-making, bringing together art and design with her signature motifs. As her previous works, Casa de Cambio draws on the complex political, urban and social histories behind the construction and appropriations of Latin identity. Visitors step into a theatrical environment, where nothing is left to chance: wall coverings, paintings, specially upholstered furniture, alongside exotic travel themed posters, cabinets of jewellery and ceramics, together with a myriad of other small objects give the impression to actually enter a real Venezuelan currency exchange booth. Within the installation, wall mounted monitor stream a curated collection of commissioned video works reminiscent of South American telenovelas by other Venezuelan and Latin American artists such as Maria Bilbao Herrer, Ricardo Báez, Ana Alenso, Lucia Pizzani, Érika Ordos and Conglomerate.
Yet beneath the deceptive cheap lighting aesthetic and Calero’s stylistic fruit filled tropicália and fiesta iconograpic tropes, belie the increasingly impoverished signs of international cultural policies and political discontent whose after effects remain, endowing Latin America with a pan-continental self-image of exoticism and frivolity. Calero’s use of a decorative language that borders on the hieroglyphic and ideogramic, employed throughout her work to question how Latin American culture has become defined by its visual propagation from other countries. Generally idealistic, dismissive and for other economic benefits, these motifs dissolve the boundary between high art and every day interiors, creatng a space in which hierarchies – whether aesthetic or social – are themselves maligned in favour of a more egalitarian communion.
Presented during a key moment when Venezuela’s social and political state is both highly volatile and on the brink of breakdown, Casa de Cambio at Art Basel allows Sol Calero to create a site of negotiation that attempts to highlight the fragility of currency circulation, the erratic situation Venezuela currently faces and the conflicts and contradictions of our own value systems set against a place of waiting, longing and nostalgia where the decorative, distracting and humorous become vital elements of day to day activities.