The "tropical” has helped to increase visibility in the global art market for contemporary art produced in Latin America (particularly from the Caribbean, Central America, and Brazil). Its vibrant, colorful, and extravagant iconography can be easily read by a broad audience. On one hand, the tropical can empower a worldview that is different from the “western” mainstream that dominates the global art world. On the other, it can be accused of reproducing an exotic colonial gaze that has historically constructed the tropics as only a place of desire and leisure. Has the tropical become a contemporary aesthetic trend that continues to primitivize the “Other”? How has the Latin American art market boom contributed to promoting a particular form of legibility for practices made in tropical climates? Can the tropical be a useful artistic strategy today or is it condemned to banality?
Image: Leandro Cardoso Nerefuh, Churrasco Tupinambá, 16th Century (Variable dimensions). Part of the Arquivo Banana [Banana Archive].