May 5th through July 3rd, 2011
Coca-colonized features a widespread representation of perspectives including Anton Kannemeyer (South Africa), Peterson Kamwathi Waweru (Kenya), Baudouin Mouanda (Congo), Cameron Platter (South Africa), María José Arjona (Colombia), Simón Vega (El Salvador), Omar Obdulio (Puerto Rico), Reynier Leyva-Novo (Cuba) and Emilio Chapela Perez (Mexico). Through site-specific installation, video, painting, design, sculpture and performance, the exhibition responds to the ideology that the influence of a mass culture on another, what is termed ‘developing‘ region, implies an absolute relationship between the influencer and the impressionable. This exhibition questions this relationship (neither to prove or disprove) in an attempt to provide evidence of how mass cultural influence has been absorbed, reinterpreted and at times positively rejuvenated within these regions.
Often out of necessity these artists create work that is outside of formal spaces, bringing it closer to a public audience and invariably making their work more culturally and socially interactive.
“I believe that artists are agents of cultural preemption responding to and reflecting social and cultural truths” says curator Claire Breukel. “The showing of Coca-colonized in the museum in El Salvador is especially prolific as it places the exhibition in the context of a formal space as well as a region from where the exhibition concept originated.”
The Art Museum of El Salvador (MARTE) is a private, non- profit institution founded in May 2003. Since its establishment it has become a point of reference for culture and the visual arts in Central America. Along with a permanent exhibition of a sample of Salvadoran art, MARTE hosts rotating exhibits of universally renowned masters, as well as contemporary exhibitions aimed at promoting new artistic expression. MARTE Contemporary is a movement of young enthusiasts, artists, and collectors aimed at supporting the contemporary arts program at the Museum. This program includes interventions, lectures, collection, cultural exchanges and internships aimed at challenging existing barriers that contemporary art faces in the traditional Salvadoran culture.
In order to showcase the work of contemporary and emerging artists, the MARTE Contemporáneo program fosters dialogues between Salvadorian and international practitioners. It also offers the public the opportunity to appreciate new artistic trends and aesthetic proposals. This can include exhibitions in one of the halls of the building and in designated spaces, as well as other activities organized by the Museum and the MARTE Contemporáneo committee, which supports and develops the schedule and agenda of the program.
“The exhibition Coca-colonized by Claire Breukel is particularly interesting because it gathers a group of artists that are linked through their interpretation of a current topic, specifically the cultural impact of industrialized and hegemonic societies in developing countries,” says Rafael Alas Programming Director of MARTE. “This dialogue between selected artists in Africa and Latin America, who share their views and experiences of the relationship between these societies, highlights the influences and the cultural “permeability” of groups which share an apparent subordination to these influences, regardless of distance or geographic location.”
Breukel first visited MARTE Museum in 2008 on a curatorial trip sponsored by Miami collector Mario Cader-Frech. During her 35 studio visits, Breukel met San Salvadorian artist Simón Vega who was later invited to create a site-specific installation for the Vienna exhibition and who will create a new piece for the MARTE museum showing. Coca-colonized is accompanied by a color catalogue translated into Spanish.
This exhibition is made possible by Marte Contemporary, Mario Cader Frech, Galerie Ernst Hilger and Hilger BrotKunsthalle, in collaboration with Michael Stevenson Gallery, South Africa; EDS gallery, Mexico, Anita Beckers gallery, Germany, Whatiftheworld Gallery, South Africa and Afrique in Visu.
*The term coca-colonization is used to describe cases where a country's indigenous culture is eroded by a corporate mass-culture, usually from a powerful, industrialized country. This is more metaphorical usage as people need not move, to the colonized country; only cultural signals, symbols, forms of entertainment, and values need to move to the colonized country. (Wikipedia)