Wednesday 15 August 2012


The house where Teoretica is located in San Jose, Costa Rica

street graffiti found in San Jose, Javier Sanchez,  the graffiti artist was invited to reproduce his same graffiti in the facade of Teoretica. the years on the graffiti record three different dates of banana workers strike in Costa Rica, the country where 'everything is perfect and there's no social unrest'.

Museo Banana sign by Federico Herrero at the entrance of the Banana Museum, an exhibition room of the Nuevo Museo Tropical at Teoretica in Costa Rica

exhibition views

Minerva Cuevas mural in the background 'Guatemala. Del Montte. Criminal. Struggles for Land', 2004

Javier Bosques, 'Peleando la Pámpana', where he boxes against a banana flower, 9 min. HD video on a loop, 2009

José Alejandro Restrepo, Musa Paradisíaca, 2001 (reproduction of a XIX century etching found in the “Voyage a la Nouvelle Grenada” by Charles Saffray)

José Alejandro Restrepo, reproduction of archive of newspapers and magazines related to the Banana Companies and their influence in local and regional politics, since 1990

Fernando Bryce, Banana Business (reproduction, part of the Americas drawings series), 2004

Fernando Bryce, Guatemala, reproduction of 4 drawings regarding the implication of the CIA and the United Fruit Company in the coup against Guatemala's elected president Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, 2002

selection of videos regarding a history of Banana Politics:
About Bananas, 1935
Chiquita Banana original commercial, 1940s
Journey to Banana Land Part 1, 1950
CIA & the United Fruit Company & Jacobo Arbenz, 1952
Archival footage from Costa Rica's Chanel 7 regarding recent banana politics, 1990s

photocopies of UFC archive material documenting the male labour relations between trains and bananas in the United Fruit Company

Banana Bibliography, on loan from the personal library of historians Antonio Jara and Carlos Fallas:
-Ethel García Buchard, Poder político, interés bananero e identidad nacional en Centro América, 1997
-Phillippe Bourgois, Bananos, etnia y lucha social en Centro América, 1994
-Lara Putman, The Company They Kept: Migrants and the Politics of Gender in Caribbean Costa Rica, 1870-1960, 2002
-Carmen Murillo Chaverri. Identidades de hierro y humo: la construcción del ferrocarril al Atlántico 1870-1890, 1995
-Ronny José Viales Hurtado, Después del enclave: Un estudio de la Región Atlántica Costarricense, 1998
-Various, Del olvido a la memoria: Nuestra herencia afrocaribeña

Minerva Cuevas, Del Monte Criminal, insertion on ideological and commercial circuits, banana stickers, 2004

Andy Warhol, Mario Banana, 1964
puertorican transvestite superstar Mario Montez eats a banana

Milton Machado, plans for Hotel Tropical at Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, 1978

a contemporary (and incomplete) history of the relationship between the banana and contemporary art

Francisco Toledo, Francisco and Sara with a banana leaf, (reproduction of photo by Trine Ellitsgaard), 1993

Meyer Vaisman, Untitled Turkey XXII, stuffed turkey covered with feathers and plastic bananas, 1993

Giorgio de Chirico, The Uncertainty of the Poet, 1913

Gabriel Orozco, Sleeping Leaves, 1991

Naufus Ramírez Figueroa, For you the bananas mature to the weight of your sweet love, documentation of performance, 2008

Tonico Lemos Auad, boy friend, girl friend, best friend, only friend, realfriend, drawings with pins on banana skin, 2003

Héctor Zamora, Delirio Atópico, Bogota, two floors of two similar looking buildings located on the same street but on very different neighborhoods are filled with bananas, 2009

Paulo Nazareth, Banana Market (my image of an exotic man for sale), 2011

Unfortunately not installed in the exhibition. Artist did not agree to have her work shown!
Adriana Lara, Installation (banana skin), 2008
A new banana skin is placed anywhere in the exhibition space every day by one of the security guards, exhibition space caretaker, gallerist, curator or collector after he’s eaten the banana.

Unfortunately not installed in the exhibition. Jesus Villasante, the collector who owns Wilfredo Prieto's work did not agree on loaning the work!
Wilfredo Prieto, Grease, Soap and Banana, 2005

Oscar Figueroa, The Most Beautiful Bill, 2011
Costa Rican 5 Colones bill with the painting 'La Alegoria del Cafe' (1897) by italian painter Aleardo Villa which is located in the ceiling of the lobby of Costa Rica's Teatro Nacional. The painting depicts an idealised vision of Costa Rica, with white female mediterranean coffee pickers instead of indigenous ones. Figueroa removes the brown skin banana carrier from the bill.

Oscar Figueroa, Sistema Musacea, 2011
documentation of installation at the MADC in which he relates the banana industry with the new computer assembly industry existing in Costa Rica

Raul Quintanilla, Banana Republics, 2002
proposal for an installation, part of the exhibition Do it, curated by Virginia Perez Ratton and Hans Ulrich Obrist in Costa Rica in 2002

Victoria Cabezas, Banana Tesis, 1973
thesis submitted by Costa Rican artist Victoria Cabezas as part of her MA at Florida State University, the main text of the thesis says Banana, Banana, Banana, etc, only the footnotes are real quotes on the history and situation of the banana industry

Room 2 of the Museo Tropical containing a Tropical Cinema and the History of the Novo Museo Tropical

Cinema Tropical showing Ivan Cardoso's H.O.

Cinema Tropical film programme, the Cinema Tropical title inspired and an homage to Cinema Tropical, started by Carlos Gutierrez in New York,, although here showing artists films. The film programme changes every month, showing on the first month:

Mauricio Lupini, Repeat After Reading, 2006, Video, 10 min.

Alexander Apostol, Yamaika Letter, 2011, Video, 8 min.

David Lamelas, The Dictator, 1978, 15 mins, Colour Sound Video, Co-directed by Hildegarde Duane
David Lamelas adopts the persona of Colonel Riccardo Garcia Perez, 'dictator, poet, revolutionary' and overthrown president of the fictional Latin American country of St Ana. Here he answers probing questions from Barbara Lopez (Hildegarde Duane) for the television news programme Newsmakers. These concern his treatment of 'subversives' on St Ana, his plans to return to his country and the mysterious circumstances surrounding the 'tragic accidents' leading to the deaths of his three wives.

Tamar Guimaraes, Canoas, 2010, 16mm transferred to digital, 13'30''
you can watch it  here

Unfortunately not in the film programme! Woody Allen's Bananas, 1971

Tropical Table with the history of the Diagrama Tropical and drawing proposals for the Novo Museo Tropical

genealogy of the Diagrama Tropical and Diagrama Tropical take away posters, more on it here

drawing proposals by PLB for the Novo Museo Tropical, read the Novo Museo manifesto here

Karlo Andrei Ibarra, 'Remanentes', 2011, bananas tattooed with phrases related to the effects of the implementation of the Free Commerce Treaties (TLC) between Caribbean and Central American countries with the USA, tattooed by Danil Vega

Radamés Figueroa, Piña-fruit Fountain, instruction piece, fruit juice, guaro, water pump, 2009

visitors at Teoretica drinking from Radames' fountain, hammock by Dominique Ratton at Teoretica's pink patio

and patrons of the Novo Museo Tropical: Federico Herrrero, Dominique Ratton and Inti Guerrero outside Teoretica (Sagrario Perez Soto missing)

TEOR/éTica proudly presents Novo Museo Tropical, a curatorial project by Pablo León de La Barra.

This museum without walls centers on an historiographical chart shaped like a banana bunch, created by León de La Barra. The drawn bananas bear the names of a range of significant artists, artworks and avant-garde movements that are part of the artistic and visual field of Latin America and beyond.

For its exhibition in TEOR/éTica, Novo Museo Tropical will feature in one of the gallery rooms the Museo Banana: a number of artworks, architectural perspectives and archival material that addresses in many ways the economic and political exploitation, fantasy and exoticism associated with banana
plantations in different contexts. In the adjacent gallery a micro-climate showcases videos, films, texts and works in various formats by other artists and filmmakers who make up the Novo Museo Tropical. Novo Museo Tropical is an attempt to create an expanded field for tropical manifestations, which de-localizes it from any geography. In other words, as the Manifesto of the Novo Museo Tropical says:
“Being Tropical is not about location, it's about attitude”.

Museo Banana includes works, archives, reproductions and films by: Javier Bosques, Fernando Bryce,  Victoria Cabezas, Minerva Cuevas, Radames 'Juni' Figueroa, Federico Herrero, Karlo Andrei Ibarra,
Tonico Lemos Auad, Milton Machado, Mario Montez/Andy Warhol, Paulo Nazareth, José Alejandro Restrepo, Meyer Vaisman, Hector Zamora, amongst others, and unfortunately without the participation of Wilfredo Prieto and Adriana Lara
Cinema Tropical shows a changing programme of films by Alexander Apostol, Ivan Cardoso/Helio Oiticica, Tamar Guimaraes, David Lamelas, Mauricio Lupini, Robert Smithson, Apichatpong Weerasethakul amongst others.

Pablo Leon de La Barra is a London based curator and cultural agitator born in Mexico City. He has curated exhibitions and written articles extensively in Latin America and Europe. His most recent curatorial projects include Incidents of Mirror Travel in Yucatan and Elsewhere, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2011) and Microclimas, Kunsthalle Zurich (2012). He has painstakingly re-imagined the exhibition format through his projects which can be traced in his blog:

The exhibition is dedicated by Pablo Leon de la Barra to Maria Ines Rodriguez as a wedding gift on the celebration of her marriage.

Special thanks to Inti Guerrero for the invitation to host Novo Museo Tropical within Teoretica

1 comment:

  1. in Brazilian has a artist Antonio Henrique Amaral , who in 1960 and 1970 painted a series of Banana works “Immediately afterwards he began painting ambiguous and ironic still-lifes collectively titled Brasíliana , which use bananas as symbols of underdevelopment and exploitation, for example BR-1 SP (1970; São Paulo, Pin. Estado) and Bananas (1971) you should have a look and maybe put one piece of work in his museum.