How aesthetic is protest really allowed to be? Rowdy slogans, deeply affecting photographs and videos – whether loud or quiet, contemporary art production is over-saturated with political statements. However, alongside zombie formalism, the motif of the tropical is once again being hyped. Whoever rights off fruit and plant motifs as merely decorative, kitsch or superficial may be mistaken. The tropical motif was rarely more political. The group exhibition „Tropical Punch“ in the Galerie Nathalie Halgand — curated by keen on magazine — shows works by Sol Calero, Conglomerate TV, Diango Hernández, Marc Horowitz, Signe Pierce & Ali Coates, Titania Seidl and Marianne Vlaschits.

“ Send your mouth on vacation ”- so goes the slogan of an American beverage company. The opaque, green plastic canister that accompanies it has more in common with washing powder packaging than with the feeling of sun and white sand between the toes. The ‚Tropical Punch‘ is a classic in any half-decent cocktail bar, and perhaps less so in the good ones. Now once again on our doorstep, looking like they’ve been dragged through the Reyes Instagram Filter, fruity motifs seem rather appetising on canvas; and, yes, decorative. If the tropical was still being put up as wallpaper in the Biedermeier period, contemporary motifs have often little to do with nostalgia. The tropical motif becomes a political means; a punch in the face. The works confront us with ancient and newly-constructed cultural stereotypes; with inequality, the oppression of minorities and compartmentalisation. The word ‚exotic‘ itself is a delusion shaped by a Eurocentric view; an almost primitive choice of word. The construction of the exotic is based on a misconception; on a problem of perception caused by hubris. Or how Samuel Leuenberger puts it: „Exoticism is a white person’s construct.” And that’s just one of many stereotypes.

Sabrina Möller

Galerie Nathalie Halgand
Stiegengasse 2/3
1060 Vienna