María Gaete

Juan Castillo:
Todos ibamos a ser.
Instalación, 1999

Humberto Nilo:
Memoria, 1999

Hugo Marín:
Los Monges de Atahualpa, 1999

Elías Adasme:
Pan-American, 1997

Carlos Montes de Oca:
Instalación, 1999

Bruna Truffa & Rodrigo Cabezas:
La torre de Babel, 1999

Matilde Huidobro:
Ausencia, 1999

Ismael Frigerio:
La Trama, 1999

Transferring works of art from their places of origin to other locations allows the public to read them in a different context to the one intended by their creators . But when these places are not only in another continent but further more linked to Chile due to recent political events, one cannot avoid that the interaction between the public and the work exhibited is read in a highly political context. This is contrary to the intentions of Ernesto Munoz curator of the «Overseas» show at MAC in Birmingham, England.

Munozís criteria to select the artists from «Overseas» was to distance the work from the ëmilitantí and rupturing art that existed in Chile during the 70s and 80s and bring international artists that have not yet shown in the UK. These are artists that were not only innovators, but also were worked in a Latin American and Chilean national context. They are offering at the same time new proposals with criteria, approaches and concepts that are at the «bordeline» of the conventional. Two of the artists live abroad; Juan Castillo in Sweden and Elias Adasme in Puerto Rico, but their work contains and reflects a preoccupation for the absent land. The rest of the artists have lived abroad for a long time, for political reasons, but are now settled in Chile.

«Overseas» offers the spectator a variety of work with multi-faceted themes and meanings offering a historical, ironical, memorable, technological and symbolic language. Reflective, suggestive and metaphorical work that gives us a complete vision of contemporary art in Chile.

«Pan-Americano» is the work of Elías Adasme who lives in Puerto Rico. Three pictures represent the same indigenous face under modern symbols of bread, money and the cross they give us an open reading full of different parallels with references to ethnicity, history, politics and mainly ëpowerí. The three breads are in front of the work and placed on the floor, held by a heap of soil, and are a direct reference to «Pan-Americano» («American bread») and its different meanings.

Juan Castillo is one of the artists who prepares his work especially for the space. «Todos íbamos a ser» («We were all going to be»), from a poem of Gabriela Mistral, gives us a cryptic and enigmatic vision about identity problems. The secret, the mystic and even the hidden, is suggested by the anonymous people with whom he works, and invites us to reflect. Mixing family photos which have been discarded by their owners and photos used by the media, creates a sanctuary with these images or «animitas», arranged in a symmetrical way, and challenges the pre-established social code through deconstruction and fragmentation.

Ismael Frigerio lived in New York for 20 years. His work unites two cultures through a video installation of a personal theme. He makes a parallel between his past and his future- his parents the past and his son the future- his mother and his son the present and the artist a catalyst of both. A family with nostalgic vision joined to the drama of the relation between them, reveals an inquiry about life and death. He works with the poem «La Trama» of Jorge Luis Borges. Matilde Huidobro with her work «ausencia» offers us a symbol of a fervent imagination in a Kahlo tradition. The series of paintings whose background is done with tea, contains in the centre of each one, parts of the body (heart, foot, hands) painted in acrylic. The use of neutral colours transform the icons that venerate the disappeared .

Hugo Marin with his sculpture «Los Monges de Ayahuasca», figures worked in clay mixed with other materials, is the only work in the exhibition that one can be defined as obviously Latin American, according to the pre-conceived idea of European countries. Ayahuasca is a plant with hallucinogenic power drunk by the monks in a ceremony with religious connotations. This work creates and introduces a reference to «taboo» mixed with history, religion and culture. A synchronism between «double look / double standard», day to day religion / day to day life (horoscopes, spells).

Carlos Montes de Oca: His installation contains photocopies of old first aid manuals that when he names them gives them a suggestive dimension open to many readings. The use of words represent his other passion which is poetry. The tent acts as a catalyst to the group, and creates a prose with insurgent manifestations, with themes of saturation and touches of claustrophobia. The installation of Humberto Nilo represents his interest with the residual art of a non traditional format. His work «Memoria» contains images that are processed and manipulated by computer technology (Photoshop), and are exhibited with real elements placed on top of the print. Like Montes de Oca, he creates a game of interpretations by adding different names, titles and objects to these images. This work is an exhalation that has direct relation to his history and deep roots.

Bruna Truffa and Rodrigo Cabezas show the work «La Torre de Babel» making a parallel between power and culture. Using the tower as a universal symbol of this relation, all the institutions representative of power appear with the church on top of the tower. This suggests the importance of these institutions in Chilean history and the preservation of a tradition that has characterised the country until today -Chile is the only country in the world that does not have a divorce law. In keeping with present norms, Truffa and Cabezas were the creators of the idea but the work was executed by other artists. This breaks with traditional art where the artist is the thinker, creator and maker of the work.

Leo Vidalís participation is called «Transito», where the faces of two children in front of two photos joined together, is a documentation of marginal contemporary life, unearthing kept feelings of questioned social situations and not resolved. The word «happy» written on the childís T-shirt , makes us think ironically of this new acquisitive power of second-hand clothes brought from North America, as a symbol of economic and cultural saturation.

* María Gaete Gwynne es artista y profesora de arte

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