Critics’ Picks

Jason Reed, Drag Tires (For Cutting Sign), 2013, ink-jet print, 16 x 20".

Jason Reed, Drag Tires (For Cutting Sign), 2013, ink-jet print, 16 x 20".

San Antonio

Borderland Collective

Blue Star Contemporary
116 Blue Star
December 4, 2014–February 15, 2015

Any exhibition that takes its starting point from the long and complex history between the United States and Central America is destined to be a difficult one. Borderland Collective, led by artists Jason Reed and Mark Menjivar and art historian Erina Duganne, have accepted this task in their current exhibition “Northern Triangle,” which is both an archive and an exhibition that works as a platform to problematize.

The exhibition commences with a small timeline on a table that provides dates and descriptions of major events marking US foreign policy in Central America. Pulled collaboratively by the collective, the timeline is a map to contextualize the exhibition, and it acts as a podium for the ensuing conversation and the myriad threads that the collective highlights. While reading through the events in history, the eye is drawn to objects and documents that reference these same events and cite language that that takes from and responds to the verbiage of colonization and power within US foreign policy.

For example, Banana Tree, 2014, by Ricky Yanas is a series of ink-jet prints that mimic the blatant sexual implications in advertising campaigns by the United Fruit Company (later Chiquita Brands International) in Central America. The artist references the language of colonization and power, incidentally the same language used in advertising campaigns by the United Fruit Company, and exposes the ads’ sexual and propagandistic tones. Historically, Central America has been at the mercy of US legislation and policy, and little has changed over time. “Northern Triangle” shifts the focus on history to questions and conversations that can become a platform for change.