Amazonas Shopping Center is a retrospective, all immersive installation of Sol Calero’s recent projects, including versions of Casa de Cambio, Nuevo Estilo, La Escuela del Sur, Ciber Café, Agencia Viajes Paraíso, Desde el Jardín and Salsa. The exhibition is named after a shopping mall the artist came across in South London, which hosted a hair and nail salon, a cafeteria, a driving school, a language school, a restaurant and a tiny job center. The variety of businesses, all cohabiting a small space, were almost overlapping, one establishment spontaneously serving several purposes and offering different services. This style of commercial spaces, often found in Latin American countries, or run by immigrants in their new homes, creates a community dynamic that transcends commodity exchange. These businesses, much like people’s lives, are built in a way that allows for flexibility, adaptation and improvisation.
Self- construction has its parallel in entrepreneurial force that migratory endeavors bring with them, in the effort to find opportunities to construct a new life in wealthier lands. Unpredictable circumstances, precarious economics, and the need to fabricate solutions are reflected in its vernacular architecture. In this way, the restaurant becomes an impromptu salsa school; someone’s relative is in town and the salon becomes a clothing shop for a few hours; the currency exchange is selling jewelry made by the owner’s sister-in-law. People don’t merely trade goods and services, but also stories, tips, and plans, and the space morphs accordingly.
These forms of socialization and self-construction strategies – of opportunity, of identity, of settlement – and the aesthetics that come with it, is what Sol Calero has been exploring, and recreating, in her installations over the past few years. Calero’s installations are not only sceneries, but are also activated, like the places they make reference to, through activities that provide a critical space to question the exoticization of Latin American cultures as Other, while celebrating, at the same time, an iconographic tradition that has been misrepresented and excluded from art history’s canonic narratives. Calero makes use of her own take on the aesthetics of domestic Latin American culture and homogenized tropicalism to reclaim it as a source of knowledge and identity rather than a clichéd perception of this heritage.
Ciber Café curated by Sira Pizà featuring works by:
Pia Camil, Rosane Chamecki and Andrea Lerner, Cristóbal Gracia, Núria Güell, Louis Henderson, Oscar Leone, Rogelio López Cuenca, Gabriel Mascaro, Joiri Minaya, Luís Molina-Pantin, Javier Ocampo, Fátima Rodrigo, and Olivia Vivanco.
Cinema screening: Desde el Jardín, written and directed in collaboration with artist Dafna Maimon. Produced by Conglomerate