Project Space: A Chronicle of Interventions
Tate Modern, Project Space, Level 1
2 May – 13 July 2014
Open daily from 10.00–18.00 and until 22.00 on Friday and Saturday
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The complicated history of foreign intervention in Central America is considered in A Chronicle of Interventions at Tate Modern from 2 May. The show includes the work of seven international contemporary artists and an archival display of Group Material’s seminal installation Timeline: A Chronicle of US Intervention in Central and Latin America.
The exhibition will explore how recent historical events have influenced artists including the opening of the Panama Canal and US occupation of the Canal Zone; the monoculture economy of Central America and the devastation left by the United Fruit Company; and US involvement in the coup d’état of Guatemala’s socialist government.
Archival material from Timeline: A Chronicle of US Intervention in Central and Latin America will begin the exhibition. First presented in PS1 New York in 1984, the installation charted over 160 years of foreign intervention in the region. Three decades after the work was first shown, this exhibition will reveal how histories of intervention continue to be a concern for a younger generation of artists, showcasing work by Humberto Vélez, Michael Stevenson, Óscar Figueroa, Andreas Siekmann, Regina José Galindo, Naufús Ramirez-Figueroa and José Castrellón.
Humberto Vélez’s film The Last Builder, 2008 refers to nineteenth century UScolonialism in Panama and to the building of the Panama Canal. The country is also the focus of Michael Stevenson’s abstract film Introducción a la Teoría de la Probailidad 2008, which charts the last shah of Iran’s exile in Panama through the eyes of his bodyguard.
Two artists will address the history of the United Fruit Company, an American corporation which gained huge influence over the so-called ‘banana republics’ in the first half of the 20th century. A new two-part commission by Andreas Siekmann will map out the monoculture economy of the region, while Oscar Figueroa’s Deméritos 2013 makes visible the way the Company controlled workers’ movement. In this video work, Figueroa makes a 3,275 metre line along the Turrialba railway, using a blue plastic material which is traditionally used to cover bunches of bananas.
Works by Regina José Galindo and Naufus Ramírez Figueroa centre on the history of Guatemala. In Tierra 2013 Galindo makes reference to the victims of the dictator Rios Monttís, while Figueroa’s A Brief History of Architecture in Guatemala 2010 uses performance to represent Guatemalan architectural history. His performance work shows dancers in costumes representing different architectural styles, which eventually disintegrate as they dance to a traditional marimba melody.
The exhibition will also include work by the photographer José Castrellón, who portrays the cultural changes taking place in Panama today. His project Kuna Metal 2013 explores the appropriation of heavy metal music by the indigenous Kuna people.
Project Space: A Chronicle of Interventions is curated by Shoair Mavlian at Tate Modern and Inti Guerrero, TEOR/éTica, San Jose, where the exhibition will travel later this year. The curatorial exchange is supported by Tate International Council with the collaboration of Gasworks.