El Buen Vecino

SALTS, Basel
4 April - 25 May, 2015

"El Buen Vecino" was a site specific project for SALTS in Basel whose title refers to the “Good Neighbour Policy,” a political strategy largely promoted by US President Roosevelt in the early 1930s designed to improve diplomatic relations between the US and Latin American countries. It was also intended to maintain cordial relationships among the Latin American community and US citizens living in the North American territory (...) Though mostly concerned with the economic and political outcome, such policy managed to infiltrate every layer of both South and North American cultures.

In this opportunity the outdoor space turned into a colorful Caribbean house and Karsten Födinger’s permanent installation became a provisional swimming pool. The inner space went through a transformation as well, where the usual domestic elements were combined with artworks made specifically for this body of work. Fruit paintings were hung on a pattern wallpaper of organic waves and abstract motives, a sculpture comprising multiple layers of colourful fabrics evoked a typical mambo dancer, while a series of painted ceramic plates stood between as a tribute to the 20th century modernist tradition of pottery ornamenting and the more popular tradition that consists of collecting souvenir plates and exhibiting them in the living room. This project was also influenced by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera and color patterns inspired by Joaquin Torres-Garcia. Making the playful hut a stage of a strong political display, where the euro centric reading of (art) History can be written again.

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Photos by Gunnar Meier