Daros Latinamerica Collection
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen / Basel, Switzerland

This exhibition was a journey of discovery through the diverse oeuvres of artists from various Latin American countries. The spectrum of media on show ranged from paintings, sculptures and installations to video works.

Argentine painter Guillermo Kuitca creates poetic images of architectural and geographical spaces using cartographic materials as substrates. From city and country maps to floor plans of historic buildings, his chosen documents are over-painted and blurred with colors and contrasts to lend them appearance of woven textiles or networks of veins. This ambiguity of recognition and imagination is further heightened by a series of paintings on mattresses, through which the artist identifies the bed, or indeed the mattress itself, as a further territory to possess and occupy.

The sculptures of Columbia’s Doris Salcedo likewise address interactions between places, things, and people. Chairs, cabinets, and tables are stacked, interlocked, or even filled with concrete, to form new sculptural configurations. Despite – or perhaps because of – their lack of function, these hybrid furniture-objects trigger strong associations with destroyed homes and the sense of uprootedness.

The floor of Meireles's installation is covered with thousands and thousands of coins. Out of their midst rises a column of Eucharistic hosts, reaching up to a ceiling of bones. This imposing work by the Brazilian conceptual artist addresses the tragic history of the Christian mission to the Indios. Rather than inviting viewers into the sacred-looking space, it draws them in and encourages them to identify its interwoven symbolism, decoding its context step by step. The work takes on a currency beyond its original intentions, as the straightforward symbolism of bones and coins strongly evokes political conflicts in present-day Latin America as well as the continuing genocide in the name of greed.

The films by Melanie Smith and Santiago Sierra deal with the proliferation of cities and the concomitant physical, functional, and social relations. In Spiral City (2002), Smith contemplates the infinite spread of Mexico City, which became her new home in 1989, from a bird's-eye perspective. In contrast, Spain’s Sierra literally penetrates straight to the center of hectic urban life, briefly blocking an expressway with a truck to highlight the helplessness and dependency of life in the city.

Ana Mendieta’s video performances address the presence and transience of the body. Her own experience of exile and homelessness has crucially shaped her art, in which she explores her own corporeality while linking it to mythology and ritual. Likewise, Columbia’s Oscar Muñoz deals with strategies of (self-)representation, emphasizing aspects of identity formation and self-love through his depictions of the body and face using evanescent materials such as breath vapor, water, wax, light, and dust.

Curator: Ioana Jimborean