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Studio Lenca - The Invisibles

A bare-chested man poses with a football tied on his head with the sort of scarf that might have been sported by the daughters in Lorca’s play, The House of Bernarda Alba, on one of their sunnier days. This is ‘Immigrante’ (2022), in which El Salvador born Jose Campos, in his guise of Studio Lenca, strikes a pose. In ‘El Historiante Blanco’ (2019), Campos stares defiantly at the camera from the next wall, a sword-wielding warrior clad in armour made, not of metal and mesh, but flowers and lace, in a fancy dress subversion of machismo. 

 

These are two of Los Historiantes(2019), in which Campos dons the dressing-up-box apparel of characters depicted by his country’s folkloric storytelling dancers, who hand down tales of colonialism and subjugation of their Indigenous people. As an émigré fleeing his war-torn country, first to America, now to the UK, where he is officially classed as ‘Other’, Campos reimagines these various identities in flamboyantly theatrical fashion. 

 

The two figures who peer from the paintings next door, ‘Hugo’ (2022) and ‘Melon Head’ (2022) are similarly colourful in appearance, both wearing shirts made of flowery silver leaf. The mouth-wateringly banquet of bananas, oranges, pineapples and mangos that adorn ‘Esta fregado’ (2021) is a deceptively sumptuous looking tablecloth turned wall hanging, created, not with paint, but using cleaning fluid. This is Campos’ tribute to his mother, who worked as a cleaner as he grew up. Through these five images, a whole new set of stories and hidden histories are made visible at last. 

 

Sierra Metro, Edinburgh until 28 August.

www.sierrametro.org


The List, August 2022


ends

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