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Monday, 7 October 2013

Arturo Soto's Uneasy Panama





Arturo Soto's In the Heat is a series of landscapes that visually set out Soto's emotional responses to the country, a place that he lived in for 2 years.

The distance is evident in the pictures, with a touch of hostility almost (which is what I like), so I asked Soto a few questions about his work. 

What were you doing in Panama?

I moved there with my partner at the time, in order to support her ongoing work. She is Panamanian. I lived there for almost two years. 

What did you want the landscapes to say about the country?

I want the pictures to convey a sense of emotional discomfort, particularly a strong feeling of alienation towards the place. 

How does the natural landscape and the built landscape relate to the psychology of the country?

The relationship between the built environment and the natural landscape in Panama is a complicated one, and beyond the grasp of this project, as the development of the city has been constant and dramatic over the last two decades, as a consequence of the deoccupation by the United States. The occupation affected tremendously the national identity of the Panamanians, and its scars can still be felt psychologically on their population, as well as in the uneven development of the city and its urban infrastructure.  

How did you feel about the country?

Hopefully the pictures communicate the uneasiness and frustration I felt at the time. It was definitely not the right place for me, as there is very little culture. I got the impression that most people where only interested in money and a very specific lifestyle. I could see how the city and the business opportunities it offered were perfectly fine for other people, but were very divergent from my own interests and ambitions. 

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