ISLA is Sol Calero’s first institutional solo exhibition in Belgium. For Kunsthal Extra City, the artist developed a new, site-specific installation. The sculptural pavilion, an autonomous structure, refers to the eclectic architectural environment of the premises, a former industrial laundry. Evidence of the physical labor previously carried out on the site remains present in the space. ISLA is a structure that can potentially be activated and “used”, with benches and chairs to sit on and a climbable platform.

The installation combines previous aspects of Calero’s site-specific spatial approach, her architectural interventions and her affinity with painting. But here, for the first time, the artist has realized a pavilion inside of an exhibition space. Formally the structure creates a rough notion of the abandoned and is reminiscent of partially collapsed houses or unfinished constructions. The exhibition space is unheated, in contrast with Calero’s warm and colorful palette; this juxtaposition lends subtext to the work’s presentation of stereotypical Western ideas about the American continent. This way, the work functions as a template for the clichés of South American imagery that in turn reflects the exoticized Western narrative. The aspect of heat is used as a material, which takes its own space in another spatial dimension. In this way, heat (or its absence) gains the captivating and seductive quality of sculpture.

ISLA abstracts the connections between architecture, community and socio-cultural structures and in doing so calls their utopian and dystopian notions into question. How does architecture symbolize the state of a community? ISLA calls into question the symptoms and parallelism of social dissolution and architectural decay.

Realized with the support of Goethe Institut.