HAY QUE VENIR AL SUR | LUÍS LÁZARO MATOS
Hay Que Venir Al Sur is a video created by artist Luís Lázaro Matos. Projected on an old orange CRT television, this artwork is an animated video: 3 minutes and 47 seconds of colorful hand-drawn sailboats, drifting to the rhythm of music against a blue sea-like background.
The soundtrack song also gives to the artwork its title: Hay Que Venir Al Sur (Spanish version) by Raffaella Carrà, an anthem to escape towards the South, towards that ideology of peace and celebration that remains only a pleasant stereotype. Almost like a home karaoke, subtitles appear on the screen initially following the song’s lyrics. However, suddenly and with a jarring change of tone, the chorus is transformed to let us read “Turn The Scream into a holiday villa! The important thing is that you design it as you wish”. It is an invitation, directed at certain architects, to design a holiday villa that does not meet conventional requirements. Instead, they must use the message contained in Munch’s artwork, The Scream, as a metaphor to criticize the equally horrendous rampant urban development along the Spanish coast.
Architectural design involves envisioning the spaces of habitation, not only in terms of individual houses but also cities and neighborhoods. This issue has generated numerous significant reflections spanning urban planning and political ideology, leading to utopian attempts at social living.
Smile! You are in Spain is the title of the exhibition organized by Matos, but it is also the title of an old tourism promotion campaign from 2004, aimed at attracting mainly foreign tourists. It capitalized on the country’s stereotypes, particularly those typical of a Southern European country: favorable climate, sunshine, gastronomy, and nearby accessible entertainment. It presented Spain as a “great retreat” where one could lead a relaxed, festive, and affordable lifestyle.
A sort of distorted and imagery pervasive 6×3 that concealed one of the deepest economic and social crises that Spain had experienced in recent years.
The 90s-style graphics, the use of outdated and obsolete device, the non-contemporary and nostalgic musical choices transport us to a suspended dimension between the splendor of the past and the decay of the present. This is communicated, promoted, and “sold” not only to potential tourists but also as a holiday offer catalog.
By sarcastically reinterpreting this famous marketing campaign, Lázaro Matos reveals and represents how the historical, cultural, and traditional features that contribute to shaping the identity of a country are often trivialized and stereotyped, only for the purpose of creating clichés useful for commodification. Behind the “discovering the beauty of the country” appearence, these efforts aim solely at economic exploitation.
Luís Lázaro Matos
Hay Que Venir Al Sur, 2017
Digital animation, 3’47’’, Edition of 3 + 1 AP
Installation view at Smile! You Are in Spain Studio I, 2017, Madragoa, Lisbon
© Courtesy of the artist and Madragoa, Lisbon. Photographic credits: Bruno Lopes