Anyone navigating the Latin American contemporary art scene will undoubtedly encounter the phenomenon of the economy of friendship, and its most visible manifestation: "Cheverismo" [from the Spanish word chévere, meaning cool or awesome]. In their defense, the cheveristas have been able to articulate a network of contacts and projects that have somehow compensated for the flaws of a dysfunctional institutional/official system, thereby promoting young artists —especially from Central America and the Caribbean—who used to be invisible to the international system. But at the same time, as with all groups of friends, it requires some kind of commitment to socialization, of mutual support circles, exclusions and intrigues that could be accused of being unprofessional. In the absence of institutions, is cheverismo a useful strategy or a hindrance?
Image by Adriana Lara.