Sol Calero @ David Dale Gallery

It's all about the soap opera in David Dale, with an immersive and colourful set forming the backdrop for a new work by South American artist Sol Calero

Review by James Harper | 06 Jun 2016

Stereotypically thought of as required viewing for the lonely and/or old, the telenovela genre is kitsch in high contrast. Sol Calero absorbs its styling and tropes into her latest exhibition at Glasgow's David Dale Gallery.

Calero has constructed her own domestic film set environment to make her own take on the Spanish-language soap opera, Desde el Jardín. Scenes from in front of the camera are blurred with those from behind; props lie in wait, anticipating the drama to come. Although designed to be viewed from fixed points, this is a fully immersive experience reminiscent of experimental theatre productions like the London company Punchdrunk.

The two focal points to the installation are both video works. An episode of Desde el Jardín is shown on a monitor within one of the rooms of the set. Another monitor shows behind-­the­-scenes footage where members of the production company Conglomerate, of which Calero is a member, move around with equipment that remains present within the set.

It is unclear if the bunk beds littered with tissues are for the film crew or cast members. This is an ambiguity that resonates throughout the installation: what is staged, what is real? All in rich, luscious colour.

Setting off some genuine laugh-out-loud moments, Calero’s set-up and video work bring to mind the late comedy writer and actor Victoria Wood’s comedy soap opera Acorn Antiques (1987). Although the tone and subject matter differs, the use of humour as a vehicle to explore other topics is intelligently employed.

Desde el Jardín is a more risqué and busy exhibition than, for example, La Escuela Del Sur, a recent solo show by Calero in London. On the surface this work is more titillating and tantalising than previous outings, but this only bolsters Calero’s sharp insight into issues of wealth and poverty in her native South America. The aspirations of those less fortunate, their facades and their dreams of grandeur are worked into an immersive, engaging and entertaining whole.

Run ended.