Corredor: The Big Picture at Sur Gallery, Toronto
Visit the virtual version of the exhibition
As the curator Claudia Arana writes:
Gelis’ work addresses the use of physical and digital elements in relation to displacement, landscape and politics beyond borders or culturally specific subjects.
In Corredor, Gelis investigates the strategic use of the Paja Canalera or Elephant Grass (Saccharum Sponteneum) which is a tall grass imported from South Asia to LatinAmerica in the early 1950s and can grow up to 3cm per day spreading its long roots several kilometres wide. This thorny, prickly and invasive imported plant was used by the US army to separate the Panama Canal Zone from the rest of the Panamanian population blocking the entrance to controlled areas. This bio-political barrier serves as one of the many tactics imposed and exerted by the former School of the Americas (SOA) in Panama, a US military academy also known as the School for Dictators who trained most of the notorious human rights abusers such as Chilean dictator General Pinochet, General Stroessner in Paraguay and many paramilitary forces in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Colombia.
Throughout the installation, Corredor presents different physical and digital components to explore different layers of significance embedded in LatinAmerican landscapes, while exposing political and economic counter-insurgency tactics tracing both natural and artificial grounds used to subjugate bodies and control populations. Her work invites the viewer to reflect on borders, bodies and locations and the virtual, physical, imagined or contested forces that control them.