Sol Calero was commissioned in 2019 to present an installation at the Tate Liverpool, titled El Autobús. Calero’s work takes the form of brightly colored, large-scale immersive installations that explore themes of representation, identity, displacement and marginalization, all informed by her own perspective as a migrant.
The artist’s work draws upon visual clichés related to the popular image of Latin America. Her paintings and murals are populated by colorful patterns, while her installations have a makeshift quality.
El Autobús was inspired by traveling in Latin America, where richly decorated buses are popular means of transport. For locals, the bus is a necessary part of the daily commute, while tourists use them in pursuit of exotic adventure. Calero explores this tension in an audio-visual installation featuring a guided tour that takes visitors on a journey through an imagined land. Highlighting the clash between expectations and reality, Calero exposes the privileged position of those who can benefit from the global tourism industry. As she questions cultural misconceptions, she offers an alternative to the western perspective on the world.
El Autobús is an installation inspired by traveling in Latin America, where richly decorated buses are popular means of transport. For locals the bus is a necessary part of the daily commute, while tourists use them in pursuit of exotic adventure. Calero explores this tension in an audio-visual installation, featuring a guided tour that takes visitors on a journey through an imagined land. In the experience of tourism, the clash between expectations and reality exposes the exoticism projected onto the non-western world and its clichés. At the same time, it shows an increasing divide between those who have access to exploring of the world for leisurely purposes, and those who are stranded staying in the same place, or forced to move for survival. In the tourism industry, places become brands, flattening their nuances: a festive, innocuous, and joyful imagery is presented as authentic. Using the documentation and material archived during her last trip through South America, Sol Calero recreates the scenery of traveling in a bus tour to an abstract destination of idyllic yet unreal places. She creates a bus inside of the gallery space, where the audience can sit and enjoy the view of the surrounding murals, and experience the imaginary traveler’s journey. A series of videos are playing on small screens, fixed to the back of the seats, showing footage of the roads and landscapes passing by at high speed. Meanwhile, an audio piece gives a tour with extended explanations about the places the traveler is about to see, creating expectations that are never achieved, as the traveler never arrives anywhere. We never know where these locations are, as we are immersed in an environment halfway between reality and our own romanticizing. With this, Calero questions the processes of identity-making by diving into their fictional nature.
Sol Calero, El Autobús, Tate Liverpool, England, 2019
Voice by Juan-Pedro Fabra Guemberena