San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

CAFTA Art Leans Anti

In the confluence of art, politics, economics and Costa Rica’s most heated national debate, the Technology Institute of Costa Rica (ITEC) is showing hundreds of posters and art related to the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA) in three galleries in San José and Cartago, east of the capital.

The not-quite-neutral exhibits, entitled “TLC Implicaciones e Imágenes” (“CAFTA Implications and Images”), try to show CAFTA-related art generated by popular sentiment, said curator Marco Chía.

“Popular imagery, though obviously varied in proposal and attitude toward CAFTA, has ‘communal character’ as a common factor,” states the exhibit’s catalogue. “Official discourse… exalts the citizen’s ‘individualistic character’ whose utopia is individual economic success,” the catalogue continues.

The Technology Institute, a public university based in Cartago, was recently slighted by President Oscar Arias, who lamented that the institute’s rector, Eugenio Trejos, is opposed to CAFTA.

TLC Implicaciones e Imágenes” features works by about 40 artists from several countries, as well as pro-CAFTA pamphlets produced by the Foreign Trade Ministry.

According to Chía, the exhibit invited everyone to share his or her best for- or against-CAFTA propaganda, but those opposed to the trade agreement flooded the galleries.

A small sample shows a Costa Rican map become a star on the U.S. flag; a painting of an indigenous Latin American poised with a giant arrow to the heart of the Jolly Green Giant; and a young man staring blankly as he holds reams of paper, a two-foot copy of the seldom-read agreement.

Chía split the 200-some works of art between Cartago’s Casa de la Cultura (exhibit ended yesterday), the Technology Institute’s José Figueres Ferrer Library (through Nov. 2) and the Casa Cultural Amón, on the north side of San José (through Nov. 13).

The latter, two and a half blocks north of the Aurola Holiday Inn, will host a public forum Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.


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