ALZORA & CALZADILLA AT THE GUGGENHEIM IN BILBAO
The Tropical Pharmacy inaugurated in room 103 of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Exploring artistic production based on topics such as ecology, cultural and ethnic diversity and the geopolitical conflicts of the global society artists Jennifer Allora (Philadelphia, 1974) and Guillermo Calzadilla (Havana, 1971) present an exhibition especially designed for the gallery of the Spanish museum.
Allora & Calzadilla, the signature under which this duet is presented, is based on a multidisciplinary collaborative production that has constituted them as one of the most interesting duets of contemporary American and world art. Through photography, sculpture, engraving and installations, these artists have spent the last two decades recording and reinterpreting the notions of space, power and geopolitical relations in relation to economic and social contexts.
In the case of The Tropical Pharmacy, three artworks carried out in Puerto Rico –where the artists live- converge to represent the political and economic asymmetries resulting from the neocolonialism of capital on the Caribbean island. In this line, the audiovisual piece The Bell, the Digger, and the Tropical Pharmacy reproduces the demolition of an American pharmaceutical company operating in Puerto Rico. In this way, the work of Allora & Calzadilla highlights the excessive exploitation of the various resources of the island for the pharmaceutic production and contrasts with the high access to health and medical resources of the country.
The artwork consists of a huge excavator with a bell instead of a shovel: the demolition does not become an alert, a sound that communicates the closure.
In dialogue with The Bell, the Digger, and the Tropical Pharmacy, another audiovisual piece - Sweat Glands, Sweat Lands - is exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum. Musicalized by the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter René Pérez Joglar (Calle 13) a man pedals inside a car with a spit while Pérez Joglar's voice introduces a chaotic description of prehistory and late capitalism interspersed with an animal perspective within a tropical ecosystem in crisis.
Finally, a 16 mm film - Deadline - shows a leaf suspended between two palm trees. Holding an invisible filament of comets, the frond defies gravity and becomes a metaphor for the devastated landscape that surrounds it.
Curated by Manuel Cirauqui, The Tropical Pharmacy opened on March 15th and will remain in the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao until June 23, 2019.