In what is usually an unlikely passage from Fifth Avenue to Peckham, Under the Same Sun is a new collaboration between South London Gallery and the Guggenheim dedicated to recent Latin American work. Debuting at the New York museum in 2014 to a great critical reception, the show includes contemporary work from fifteen South American countries. Its thematic scope covers similarly vast ground; from Carlos Amorales version of Alexander Calder’s mobiles with cymbals that visitors are invited to play to Wilson Díaz’ neon signs calling for the “liberation” of the coca plant, the exploitation of which has blighted Colombia’s recent history, the show moves from whimsy to dissent in one flickering swoop.
With an eclectic range of mediums and artists, with a focus on those born after 1968, Under the Same Sun offers a diversity of views and responses to shared colonial and economic histories and conditions of social injustice, charting the flow between politics of art. Young Argenitian artist Amalia Pica’s installation called ‘A ∩ B ∩ C’ refers to the 1970s government ban on set theory in schools for the potentially collaborative and thus subversive action it might incite while Cuban dissident artist Tania Bruguera’s film shows visitors speaking freely on stage (something ordinarily denied in Cuba) before being taken away by two actors in military uniform.
A memorable highlight was artist Adriano Costa’s Straight from the House of Trophies- Ouro Velho (2013), an installation gold-painted household towels laid out across the floor of a small room (Ouro Velho translates in English as “old gold”), which becomes an acid metaphor for the monetary incentive for colonization and the rise of materialism concomitant of Brazil’s accelerated economic growth.
The exhibition also offers a first glance at the ground floor of the gallery’s new building, the neighbouring former Peckham Road Fire Station, which is still undergoing restoration. One room is filled with the noisy whir of slide projectors, part of Luis Camnitzer work, screening blank images onto the walls as a comment on the production of history. It is, he reminds us, always the work of those who remain having conquered the rest. On a lighter note, Donna Conlon and Jonathan Harker’s Drinking Song (2011) shows the US national anthem played on Panamian beer bottles.
Until September 4, South London Gallery, 65-67 Peckham Road London SE5 8UH. Admission free. (020 7703 6120, southlondongallery.org)