La Forma Equivalente: new vision on image and power in Central America

October 2008 -

"Art is part of everyone's life, and not just when you see it in the theatre or in an art gallery. We want to emphasize that everyday relationship between art and culture. There are enough initiatives in Central America to confirm this connection. The problem is that few people know what others are doing. We are attempting to mitigate this lack of communication with the travelling exhibition La Forma Equivalent. It is a reflection on the discriminating effect of dominant image cultures," explains Patricia Belli of EspIRA, an organisation for cultural education from Nicaragua that is coordinating the exhibition.


Twenty young talented artists from Central America express their vision of the relationship between image and power in La Forma Equivalent. Using media images, signalling symbols and art works from the region they show how 'image marginalisation' takes place in their countries.

"Of course, what these artists share is the political instability of the past decades, which resulted in a spiral of violence, the acceptance of poverty as a social phenomenon and migration problems. What the art works also share is an interest in more contemporary themes such as gender, cultural exoticism, and the influence of the media. Thus, we expect a great deal from this exhibition that depicts human conflict as a universal theme, rather than as the regional problem of dictators and wars."

The clearest example of this is the video by the Nicaraguan artist Gabriel Serra, which shows a modern day Managua - a capital after the earthquake and after the war. We hear the testimony of a woman who lives in a poverty-stricken district, who has no proof of identity, so that in her own words, she "is no one, cannot take part in any government processes, cannot travel in Central America, is a person without an identity." At the end of the monologue, which is conducted against a black background, an image of a building that was devastated by the earthquake appears: the residence of the woman who was just interviewed. "The fact that this image is withheld during the interview serves as a metaphor for how this woman and her living environment are politically and geographically ignored and inspires new visions about marginalised populations", Belli explains.

EspIRA is supported by Arts Collaboratory, a project of Hivos, the DOEN Foundation and the Mondriaan Foundation. La Forma Equivalente is supported by the Prince Claus Fund.