Pablo León de la Barra


Nova Cartografia Tropical








Color posters printed on paper, available for takeaway

Credits: Courtesy of Pablo León de la Barra

In 2011 Pablo León de la Barra curated, together with Julieta González, the exhibition Bananas Is My Business: The South American Way at the Museu Carmen Miranda in Brazil. The exhibition featured archival material about the actress and singer who played the advertising character Chiquita Banana for the United Fruit Company, alongside works from Latin American conceptual artists (Roberto Jacoby and Ernesto Neto, for example) that contended with the economic and political intervention of the United States in Latin America. A year later, in 2012, De la Barra curated the exhibition Novo museo tropical on the Latin American banana legacy for TEOR/ética in Costa Rica. The exhibition, described by the curator as “a museum without walls”, featured artists such as José Alejandro Restrepo, Fernando Bryce and Minerva Cuevas. For the occasion, De la Barra designed a poster-manifesto, in his own handwriting, which was also titled Novo museo tropical, in which he proposed a historiographical chart reminiscent of the diagram created by Alfred Barr to illustrate the development of modernism from the European avant-garde and similar pieces such as those made by Miguel Covarrubias and Ad Reinhardt. De la Barra graphically represents the commonalities and ramifications of Latin American visual culture through the structure of an abundant bunch of bananas. According to the manifesto, the Novo museo tropical is a museum without walls that invites us to think about the museum from the inside out and to imagine a museum that goes beyond the artistic conventions of the 20th century. Starting with a central concept that says “dictatorships” the bunch expands outwards to include events and situations such as “Teología de la Liberación”, “Tropicalia”, “XXIV Bienal de Sao Paulo”, and “Banana Companies”. Those who visit the exhibition could take away a copy of the poster and contribute to completing the genealogy proposed by De la Barra by suggesting artists, movements and/or events to be added to the diagram.