Free Trade Ensambladura

In Spanish, “Ensambladura” means to assemble something from jointed materials, as in carpentry. In artist Máximo Corvalán’s case it means creating installations depicting the definitive Latin American neo-colonial landscape; tableaus composed of neon welcome signs that invite foreign investment, intertwined with the ultimate commodity - the hemisphere’s human resources. Corvalán’s Free Trade Ensambladura is the open invitation to pillage Latin America we would actually see at border check points and international airports if it were not for the fact that we’ve allowed ourselves to be blinded by the polite lies of imperial arrogance. From now on, whenever you hear the words globalization or free trade as they are applied to Latin America - think of Corvalán’s flickering neon sculptures. His carvings of desiccated human bodies entangled in the fluorescent lighting fixtures like dead birds caught in a net, represent the human spirit sacrificed to the Yankee god of money.

A cheap holiday in other people's misery

Máximo Corvalán’s “Free Trade Ensambladura.”


But one must also see Free Trade Ensambladura in the context of President Bush’s just concluded trip to Argentina, where he failed to pressure Latin American nations into accepting the formation of a hemisphere-wide Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Instead, Bush was met by massive protest and repudiation by the people of Argentina, and the country’s president, Néstor Kirchner, denounced the International Monetary Fund and US economic policies as being responsible for the 2001 economic collapse Argentines have yet to recover from. As a Chilean artist, Corvalán’s work also speaks about the tortured history of his own country, where a US backed military coup crushed democracy in the early 1970’s. Corvalán libertates the viewer by offering the unvarnished truth concerning the neo-colonial relationship the US has with Latin America; what’s more his mordant work announces the old colonial game to be over. Democracy is coming to Latin America - all that needs to be done is for people to join the right parts together… Ensambladura.

Free Trade Ensambladura is on exhibit from November 12 to December 16, 2005 (Gallery closed November 22-26.) Cal State Fullerton Main Art Gallery Visual Arts Center, California State University, Fullerton. 800 North State College Blvd. (just north of Nutwood Avenue,) Fullerton, CA. Opening Reception: Saturday, November 12, 6-8pm. Phone: (714) 278-7750. Web www.arts.fullerton.edu/arts/events. Admission is free.

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